The type IIB topoisomerases are a relatively newly discovered subfamily of the type II topoisomerases, however much less is known about type IIB in comparison to type IIA.
The main enzyme of the type IIB subfamily is topoisomerase VI (topo VI), a topology manipulating enzyme found mainly in archaeal species. However, it has also been found in plants and is vital for a process called endoreduplication.
Shannon’s project is centred around the biochemical and biophysical characterisation of topoisomerase VI from the archaeal species Methanosarcina mazei, in order to gain a deeper understanding into this enzymes activity.
While being very different to the well known type IIA topoisomerases, topo VI has not only subsisted in many archaeal species, but has been passed through to the eukaryotic lineages where it remains to this day, performing vital cellular functions.
Shannon’s PhD program is split between Professor Tony Maxwell and Dr Keir Neuman of the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC, where she is currently working, using single molecule techniques to further elucidate aspects of topoisomerases VI biology that have not yet been observed.