Biochemical topology: applications to DNA recombination and replication

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Science  23 May 1986:
Vol. 232, Issue 4753, pp. 951-960
DOI: 10.1126/science.3010458


Processes of DNA rearrangement such as recombination or replication frequently have as products different subsets of the limitless number of distinguishable catenanes or knots. The use of gel electrophoresis and electron microscopy for analysis of these topological isomers has made it possible to deduce physical and geometric features of DNA structure and reaction mechanisms that are otherwise experimentally inaccessible. Quantitative as well as qualitative characterization is possible for any pathway in which the fate of a circular DNA can be followed. The history, theory, and techniques are reviewed and illustrative examples from recent studies are presented.

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