Chromosomes are organized into morphologically distinct higher-order structures during chromosome segregation, DNA repair, and transcription. These different structures are mediated by structural maintenance of chromosome (smc) complexes that consist of 4 protein subunits conserved from bacteria to man. Smc complexes are thought to tether together two distinct regions of chromatin, either within the same DNA strand or between two distinct strands. However the mechanism for how they bind chromatin or tether it, are still very poorly understood. One Smc complex, cohesin, holds together the two sister chromatids (the newly replicated chromosomes) from the time of their synthesis in S phase through metaphase of mitosis. This sister chromatid cohesion is critical to ensure that daughter cells inherit proper ploidy during cell division. Cohesin is also important for mitotic condensation, meiotic chromosome structure, post-replicative DNA repair and the regulation of gene expression. Defects in cohesin and cohesin auxiliary factors are the cause of several human disorders and potentially contribute to chromosome instability associated with tumorigenesis. In this proposal I outline an integrated approach using genetics, cell biology, and new in vitro biochemical assays to study the establishment of cohesion using budding yeast. We will use a novel system to generate strains with serial quantized reduction in total cellular cohesin. Analysis of these strains will provide insights into the level and localization of cohesin that is needed in vivo to mediate its known diverse roles in chromosome metabolism as well as uncover potentially novel biological functions. We will investigate the role of ATP, cohesin loader and a cohesin antagonist in cohesin binding to chromosomes by exploiting dominant negative phenotypes of cohesin's Smc3 ATPase and by suppression analysis of its defective loader. We will elucidate the mechanism of converting chromatin bound cohesin to its cohesive state. Experiments in vivo will demonstrate the contribution of cohesin subunits to cohesion generation distinct from chromatin binding. We will also test whether cohesiveness reflects stabilization of the cohesin ring around the sister chromatids or oligomerization between cohesin complexes bound to each sister chromatid. The mechanism of cohesin binding to chromosomes will also be analyzed by a physiological-relevant in vitro assay for cohesin binding to chromatin that we have developed recently. Using this assay we will assess the contribution of DNA sequence, DNA topology, ATP, cohesin itself, and cohesin auxiliary factors to the cohesin-DNA complex formation. We will develop a relevant in vitro assay for cohesion using as a foundation our in vitro assembled cohesin-DNA complexes and our battery of cohesin mutations. Finally, the ability to assemble in vitro cohesin/DNA complexes and cohesive cohesin/DNA complexes will allow us to determine their ultrastructure in the electron microscope.

Public Health Relevance

DNA, the hereditary material of chromosomes, is coated first by core histone proteins and then packaged into higher order structures by specialized protein complexes, called SMC complexes, much the way the magnet tape in a cassette is packaged by its plastic housing. Chromosome structures mediated by Smc complexes ensure that each newly form cell in an organism inherits the complete complement of chromosomes and that damage to the DNA of the chromosomes can be repaired efficiently. Mutations in human genes encoding Smc proteins have been linked to cancer, birth defects and disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Molecular Genetics C Study Section (MGC)
Program Officer
Carter, Anthony D
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California Berkeley
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Stigler, Johannes; Çamdere, Gamze Ö; Koshland, Douglas E et al. (2016) Single-Molecule Imaging Reveals a Collapsed Conformational State for DNA-Bound Cohesin. Cell Rep 15:988-998
Winston, Fred; Koshland, Douglas (2016) Back to the Future: Mutant Hunts Are Still the Way To Go. Genetics 203:1007-10
Orgil, Ola; Matityahu, Avi; Eng, Thomas et al. (2015) A conserved domain in the scc3 subunit of cohesin mediates the interaction with both mcd1 and the cohesin loader complex. PLoS Genet 11:e1005036
Çamdere, Gamze; Guacci, Vincent; Stricklin, Jeremiah et al. (2015) The ATPases of cohesin interface with regulators to modulate cohesin-mediated DNA tethering. Elife 4:
Guacci, Vincent; Stricklin, Jeremiah; Bloom, Michelle S et al. (2015) A novel mechanism for the establishment of sister chromatid cohesion by the ECO1 acetyltransferase. Mol Biol Cell 26:117-33
Eng, Thomas; Guacci, Vincent; Koshland, Douglas (2015) Interallelic complementation provides functional evidence for cohesin-cohesin interactions on DNA. Mol Biol Cell 26:4224-35
Eng, Thomas; Guacci, Vincent; Koshland, Doug (2014) ROCC, a conserved region in cohesin's Mcd1 subunit, is essential for the proper regulation of the maintenance of cohesion and establishment of condensation. Mol Biol Cell 25:2351-64
Guacci, Vincent; Koshland, Douglas (2012) Cohesin-independent segregation of sister chromatids in budding yeast. Mol Biol Cell 23:729-39
Onn, Itay; Koshland, Douglas (2011) In vitro assembly of physiological cohesin/DNA complexes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108:12198-205
Heidinger-Pauli, Jill M; Mert, Ozlem; Davenport, Carol et al. (2010) Systematic reduction of cohesin differentially affects chromosome segregation, condensation, and DNA repair. Curr Biol 20:957-63

Showing the most recent 10 out of 12 publications