At the heart of the chromosome: SMC proteins in action

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2006 May;7(5):311-22. doi: 10.1038/nrm1909.


Structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) proteins are ubiquitous in organisms from bacteria to humans, and function as core components of the condensin and cohesin complexes in eukaryotes. SMC proteins adopt a V-shaped structure with two long arms, each of which has an ATP-binding head domain at the distal end. It is important to understand how these uniquely designed protein machines interact with DNA strands and how such interactions are modulated by the ATP-binding and -hydrolysis cycle. An emerging idea is that SMC proteins use a diverse array of intramolecular and intermolecular protein-protein interactions to actively fold, tether and manipulate DNA strands.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Chromatids / metabolism
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / chemistry
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism*
  • Chromosomes / genetics
  • Chromosomes / metabolism*
  • Cohesins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Nucleic Acid Heteroduplexes / chemistry


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Nucleic Acid Heteroduplexes
  • condensin complexes
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases