The tumor suppressor protein p53 and the human DNA topoisomerase I (htopoI) interact with each other, which leads to a stimulation of the catalytic activity of htopoI. Moreover, p53 stimulates the topoisomerase I-induced recombination repair (TIRR) reaction. However, little was known about how p53 stimulates this topoisomerase I activity. Here we demonstrate that monomeric p53 is sufficient for the stimulation of the topoisomerase I-catalyzed relaxation activity, but the tetrameric form of p53 is required for the stimulation of TIRR. We also show that p53 stimulates topoisomerase I activity by increasing the dissociation of htopoI from DNA. Since htopoI forms a closed ring structure around the DNA, our results suggest that p53 induces a conformational change within htopoI that results in an opening of the clamp, and thereby releases htopoI from DNA
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