Linearized free maxicircle DNA in Crithidia fasciculata is a product of topoisomerase II-mediated cleavage

Laura Rocco Carpenter, Paul T. Englund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Linearized free maxicircle DNA, present in detergent lysates of Crithidia fasciculata mitochondria, was thought to be a replication intermediate formed during rolling circle replication of maxicircle DNA. Gel electrophoresis of the linearized free maxicircles indicated that they were slightly larger than the maxicircle genome, raising the possibility of the presence of terminal repetitions (Hajduk, S.L., Klein, V.A. and Englund, P.T. (1984) Cell 36, 483-492). We recently found, however, that maxicircles replicate by a θ-mechanism, and not as rolling circles (Carpenter, L.R. and Englund, P.T. (1995) Mol. Cell Biol. 15, 6794-6803). Given that θ-replication does not easily explain the presence of linearized free maxicircles, we investigated alternative explanations for their existence. We present evidence that this DNA species results from the double-strand cleavage of maxicircles due to detergent denaturation of intracellular topoisomerase II cleavable complexes. As expected for a topoisomerase II cleavage product, the linearized free maxicircle DNA is covalently bound to protein at both 5' ends. In addition, the slightly larger apparent size of linearized free maxicircle DNA or maxicircles linearized by a restriction enzyme can be explained by anomalous electrophoretic migration during conventional or pulsed-field agarose gel electrophoresis. This anomalous migration is presumably due to bends or other unusual structures in the DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Crithidia fasciculata
  • kinetoplast DNA
  • maxicircle DNA
  • topoisomerase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Molecular Biology


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