- Chronic hyperglycemia leads to the development of diabetes-induced organ complications, through changes in gene expression and protein function. We previously showed that in cell lines, topoisomerase I (topo I) is modified by O-GlcNAcylation, which affects its DNA relaxation activity. Since topo I participates in gene expression processes, we assumed that high glucose levels will affect its regulation and activity. Here we examined the effect of hyperglycemia on the regulation, GlcNAcylation and activity of topo I, in various internal rat organs that were subjected to diabetes-induced complications. Type 1 diabetes was induced in female rats by Streptozotocin injection. Topo I activity in nuclear protein extracts derived from diabetic and nondiabetic rat organs and topo I mRNA level were examined. Topo I and O-linked beta-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) transferase proteins and their O-GlcNAcylation were determined by western blot and immunoprecipitation assays. We show that topo I activity and enzyme protein level decreased in various tissues derived from the diabetic animals, whereas the enzyme mRNA level was not altered. Topo I protein was modified in vivo by O-GlcNAc, and O-GlcNAc transferase was coprecipitated with topo I protein, suggesting a possible interaction between both enzymes. This study demonstrates, for the first time, that topo I activity is regulated by high glucose levels, as a result of the diabetic state and is modified in vivo by O-GlcNAcylation, suggesting that topo I, an essential enzyme for gene expression, is involved in cellular processes which may lead to the pathogenesis of diabetic complications.