Topoisomerase I deficiency causes RNA polymerase II accumulation and increases AID abundance in immunoglobulin variable genes

Robert W. Maul, Huseyin Saribasak, Zheng Cao, Patricia J. Gearhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Activation-induced deaminase (AID) is a DNA cytosine deaminase that diversifies immunoglobulin genes in B cells. Recent work has shown that RNA polymerase II (Pol II) accumulation correlates with AID recruitment. However, a direct link between Pol II and AID abundance has not been tested. We used the DT40 B-cell line to manipulate levels of Pol II by decreasing topoisomerase I (Top1), which relaxes DNA supercoiling in front of the transcription complex. Top1 was decreased by stable transfection of a short hairpin RNA against Top1, which produced an accumulation of Pol II in transcribed genes, compared to cells transfected with sh-control RNA. The increased Pol II density enhanced AID recruitment to variable genes in the λ light chain locus, and resulted in higher levels of somatic hypermutation and gene conversion. It has been proposed by another lab that AID itself might directly suppress Top1 to increase somatic hypermutation. However, we found that in both AID+/+ and AID-/- B cells from DT40 and mice, Top1 protein levels were identical, indicating that the presence or absence of AID did not decrease Top1 expression. Rather, our results suggest that the mechanism for increased diversity when Top1 is reduced is that Pol II accumulates and recruits AID to variable genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-52
Number of pages7
JournalDNA Repair
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015



  • Activation-induced deaminase
  • DT40
  • Gene conversion
  • RNA polymerase II
  • Somatic hypermutation
  • Topoisomerase I

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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