SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Summary

Antibacterial quinolones inhibit type II DNA topoisomerases by stabilizing covalent topoisomerase-DNA cleavage complexes, which are apparently transformed into double-stranded breaks by cellular processes such as replication. We used plasmid pBR322 and two-dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis to examine the collision of replication forks with quinolone-induced gyrase-DNA cleavage complexes in Escherichia coli. Restriction endonuclease-digested DNA exhibited a bubble arc with discrete spots, indicating that replication forks had been stalled. The most prominent spot depended upon the strong gyrase binding site of pBR322, providing direct evidence that quinolone-induced cleavage complexes block bacterial replication forks in vivo. We differentiated between stalled forks that do or do not contain bound cleavage complex by extracting DNA under different conditions. Resealing conditions allow gyrase to efficiently reseal the transient breaks within cleavage complexes, while cleavage conditions cause the latent breaks to be revealed. These experiments showed that some stalled forks did not contain a cleavage complex, implying that gyrase had dissociated in vivo and yet the fork had not restarted at the time of DNA isolation. Additionally, some branched plasmid DNA isolated under resealing conditions nonetheless contained broken DNA ends. We discuss a model for the creation of double-stranded breaks by an indirect mechanism after quinolone treatment.