Chromosome cohesion, condensation, and separation

Annu Rev Biochem. 2000;69:115-44. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.69.1.115.


The faithful segregation of genetic information requires highly orchestrated changes of chromosome structure during the mitotic cell cycle. The linkage between duplicated sister DNAs is established during S phase and maintained throughout G2 phase (cohesion). In early mitosis, dramatic structural changes occur to produce metaphase chromosomes, each consisting of a pair of compacted sister chromatids (condensation). At anaphase onset, a signal is produced to disrupt the linkage between sister chromatids (separation), allowing them to be pulled apart to opposite poles of the cell. This review discusses our current understanding of the three stages of large-scale structural changes of chromosomes in eukaryotic cells. Recent genetic and biochemical studies have identified key components involved in these processes and started to uncover hitherto unexpected functional links between mitotic chromosome dynamics and other important chromosome functions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Chromosomes / physiology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Histones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Meiosis / physiology
  • Mitosis / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / cytology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology
  • Schizosaccharomyces / cytology
  • Schizosaccharomyces / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces / physiology


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Histones
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • cohesins
  • condensin complexes
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases