To investigate the function of a DNA topoisomerase III enzyme in Caenorhabditis elegans, the full-length cDNA of C. elegans DNA topoisomerase IIIα was cloned. The deduced amino acid sequence exhibited identities of 48 and 39% with those of human DNA topoisomerase IIIα and Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA topoisomerase III, respectively. The overexpressed polypeptide showed an optimal activity for removing negative DNA supercoils at a relatively high temperature of 52-57°C, which is similar to the optimum temperatures of other eukaryotic DNA topoisomerase III enzymes. When topoisomerase IIIα expression was interfered with by a cognate double-stranded RNA injection, pleiotropic phenotypes with abnormalities in germ cell proliferation, oogenesis and embryogenesis appeared. These phenotypes were well correlated with mRNA expression localized in the meiotic cells of gonad and early embryonic cells.
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