Cutting DNA: mechanics of the topoisomerase

J M T Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Taking the accurate theoretical solutions of Coleman and Swigon for a DNA plasmid in a plectonemic state under imposed link and responsive writhe, we examine in detail the working of the two types of cutting enzyme (topoisomerase Type 1 and topoisomerase Type 2). The mechanical processes involved can generate a plethora of outcomes, all assigning different levels of relaxation to the molecule. Alternative outcomes arise when there are co-existing (meta-) stable equilibrium states. Resolution of the outcome would then require a dynamic analysis of the relaxation process, though the Maxwell criterion can offer some guidance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalThe European Physical Journal. Special Topics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


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