M Experimental Figure 47

supercoils can be removed by cleavage of one strand. (a) Electron micrograph of SV40 viral DNA. When the circular DNA of the SV40 virus is isolated and separated from its associated protein, the DNA duplex is underwound and assumes the supercoiled configuration. (b) If a supercoiled DNA is nicked (i.e., one strand cleaved), the strands can rewind, leading to loss of a supercoil. Topoisomerase I catalyzes this reaction and also reseals the broken ends. All the supercoils in isolated SV40 DNA can be removed by the sequential action of this enzyme, producing the relaxed-circle conformation. For clarity, the shapes of the molecules at the bottom have been simplified.

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