Over the past decade it has emerged that the cohesin protein complex, which functions in sister chromatid cohesion, chromosome segregation, and DNA repair, also regulates gene expression and development. Even minor changes in cohesin activity alter several aspects of development. Genome-wide analysis indicates that cohesin directly regulates transcription of genes involved in cell proliferation, pluripotency, and differentiation through multiple mechanisms. These mechanisms are poorly understood, but involve both partial gene repression in concert with Polycomb group proteins, and facilitating long-range looping, both between enhancers and promoters, and between CTCF protein binding sites.
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