Cohesin: a guardian of genome integrity

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Aug;1823(8):1324-42. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.05.027. Epub 2012 Jun 5.


Ability to reproduce is one of the hallmark features of all life forms by which new organisms are produced from their progenitors. During this process each cell duplicates its genome and passes a copy of its genome to the daughter cells along with the cellular matrix. Unlike bacteria, in eukaryotes there is a definite time gap between when the genome is duplicated and when it is physically separated. Therefore, for precise halving of the duplicated genome into two, it is required that each pair of duplicated chromosomes, termed sister chromatids, should be paired together in a binary fashion from the moment they are generated. This pairing function between the duplicated genome is primarily provided by a multimeric protein complex, called cohesin. Thus, genome integrity largely depends on cohesin as it ensures faithful chromosome segregation by holding the sister chromatids glued together from S phase to anaphase. In this review, we have discussed the life cycle of cohesin during both mitotic and meiotic cell divisions including the structure and architecture of cohesin complex, relevance of cohesin associated proteins, mechanism of cohesin loading onto the chromatin, cohesion establishment and the mechanism of cohesin disassembly during anaphase to separate the sister chromatids. We have also focused on the role of posttranslational modifications in cohesin biology. For better understanding of the complexity of the cohesin regulatory network to the readers, we have presented an interactome profiling of cohesin core subunits in budding yeast during mitosis and meiosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Division
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / physiology*
  • Chromosome Segregation
  • Genome, Fungal
  • Genomic Instability
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Interaction Maps
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Protein Subunits / physiology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / cytology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / physiology*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Protein Subunits
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • cohesins