DNA topoisomerase I (Topo1) manages the topological state of DNA. Cleavable complexes, the covalent Topo1-DNA intermediates, become DNA damaged when the catalytic cycles are inhibited by the anti-tumor drug camptothecin (CPT). Intriguingly, Topo1 is modified rapidly and extensively with SUMO-1, a ubiquitin-like protein, in response to CPT. This study shows that the sumoylation enhances the cleavable complex formation and apoptosis induced by CPT. Indeed, substitutions of Lys117 and Lys153, identified as Topo1 sumoylation sites, reduced the CPT-induced cleavable complexes without influencing its in vitro catalytic activity. Consistent with this observation, CPT-induced cleavable complexes of wild-type Topo1 increased in a sumoylation-dependent manner. We also found that Topo1 sumoylation occurred independently of CPT when Topo1 was inactivated by mutation of the catalytic Tyr723. These findings suggested that Topo1 inactivation by CPT treatment can trigger Topo1 sumoylation, leading to enhanced cleavable complex formation.
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