Topoisomerases are enzymes that mediate topological changes in DNA that are essential for nucleic acid biosynthesis and for cell survival. The kinetoplastid protozoa, which include pathogenic trypanosomes and Leishmania, have yielded an interesting variety of purified topoisomerase activities as well as several topoisomerase genes. In these parasites, topoisomerases are involved in the metabolism of both nuclear and mitochondrial (kinetoplast) DNA. In this review, Christian Burri, Annette Bodley and Theresa Shapiro summarize what is known about topoisomerases in kinetoplastids, and consider the intriguing possibility that these enzymes may act as valuable antiparasite drug targets.
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