The helical structure of DNA and the helical organization of chromatin fibres necessarily involve topological problems arising during vital processes like DNA replication, transcription, recombination and chromatin packing. In healthy cells all these problems are resolved by the action of nuclear enzymes DNA topoisomerases. These complex enzymes transiently cut one or two DNA strands and permit another strand or another double helix to pass through the transient break before it is religated. Since practically all DNA transactions depend (at least to some extent) on the action of DNA topoisomerases these enzymes play a central role in the proper functioning of DNA.
It is very important to know the mechanisms of action of these enzymes to better understand functioning both of healthy cells and of cancer cells. For example, DNA topoisomerase inhibitors constitute one important class of anti-cancer drugs. In addition to scientists working on DNA topoisomerases this EMBO Workshop will also group together scientists studying topological problems arising during DNA replication, transcription and recombination or chromosome segregation. Our objective is to contribute to the growth of knowledge in the field of DNA topology by bringing together leaders in the field with the new generation of young scientists from many European countries.