A study of the distribution of Topoisomerase II alpha (Topo II) in cells of six tissue culture cell lines, human (HeLa), mouse (L929), rat, Indian muntjac, rat kangaroo (PTK-2), and wallaby revealed the following features: (1) There is a cell cycle association of a specific population of Topo II with the centromere. (2) The centromere is distinguished from the remainder of the chromosome by the intensity of its Topo II reactivity. (3) The first appearance of a detectable population of Topo II at the centromere varies between species but is correlated with the onset of centromeric heterochromatin condensation. (4) Detectable centromeric Topo II declines at the completion of cell division. (5) The distribution pattern of Topo II within the centromere is species- and stage-specific and is conserved only within the kinetochore domain. In addition, we report that the Topo II inhibitor ICRF-193 can prevent the normal accumulation of Topo II at the centromere. This results in the disruption of chromatin condensation sub-adjacent to the kinetochore as well as the perturbation of kinetochore structure. Taken together, our studies indicate that the distribution of Topo II at the centromere is unlike that reported for the remainder of the chromosome and is essential for proper formation of centromere/kinetochore structure.

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