Structural and functional interactions of the prostate cancer suppressor protein NKX3.1 with topoisomerase I

Liang Nian Song, Cai Bowen, Edward P. Gelmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


NKX3.1 (NK3 homeobox 1) is a prostate tumour suppressor protein with a number of activities that are critical for its role in tumour suppression. NKX3.1 mediates the cellular response to DNA damage by interacting with ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) and by activation of topoisomerase I. In the present study we characterized the interaction between NKX3.1 and topoisomerase I. The NKX3.1 homeodomain binds to a region of topoisomerase I spanning the junction between the core and linker domains. Loss of the topoisomerase I N-terminal domain, a region for frequent protein interactions, did not affect binding to NKX3.1 as was shown by the activation of Topo70 (N-terminal truncated topoisomerase I) in vitro. In contrast, NKX3.1 interacts with the enzyme reconstituted from peptide fragments of the core and linker active site domains, but inhibits the DNA-resolving activity of the reconstituted enzyme in vitro. The effect of NKX3.1 on both Topo70 and the reconstituted enzyme was seen in the presence and absence of camptothecin. Neither NKX3.1 nor CPT (camptothecin) had an effect on the interaction of the other with topoisomerase I. Therefore the interactions of NKX3.1 and CPT with the linker domain of topoisomerase I are mutually exclusive. However, in cells the effect of NKX3.1 on topoisomerase binding to DNA sensitized the cells to cellular toxicity and the induction of apoptosis by low doses of CPT. Lastly, topoisomerase I is important for the effect of NKX3.1 on cell survival after DNA damage as topoisomerase knockdown blocked the effect of NKX3.1 on clonogenicity after DNA damage. Therefore NKX3.1 and topoisomerase I interact in vitro and in cells to affect the CPT sensitivity and DNA-repair functions of NKX3.1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-136
Number of pages12
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Camptothecin (CPT)
  • DNA repair
  • Homeodomain
  • NK3 homeobox 1 (NKX3.1)
  • Prostate cancer
  • Topoisomerase I

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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