Structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) proteins: conserved molecular properties for multiple biological functions

Eur J Biochem. 1999 Jul;263(1):6-13. doi: 10.1046/j.1432-1327.1999.00509.x.


The evolutionarily-conserved eukaryotic SMC (structural maintenance of chromosomes) proteins are ubiquitous chromosomal components in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The eukaryotic SMC proteins form two kind of heterodimers: the SMC1/SMC3 and the SMC2/SMC4 types. These heterodimers constitute an essential part of higher order complexes, which are involved in chromatin and DNA dynamics. The two most prominent and best-characterized complexes are cohesin and condensin, necessary for sister chromatid cohesion and chromosome condensation. Here we discuss these functions together with additional roles in gene dosage compensation and DNA recombination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / chemistry*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / physiology*
  • Chromatids / physiology
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / chemistry*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / physiology*
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Dimerization
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Protein Conformation
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • SMC protein, Bacteria
  • DNA