Cohesin, a chromatin engagement ring

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2013 Feb;25(1):63-71. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Dec 6.


Cohesin is a four subunit complex, conserved from yeast to man, with the ability to hold together two DNA segments within its ring-shaped structure. When the two segments belong to sister chromatids, cohesin is mediating cohesion, which is essential for chromosome segregation in mitosis and meiosis and for homologous DNA repair. When the two DNA segments are in the same chromatid, a loop is formed. These chromatin loops are emerging as a mechanism for controlling the communication between enhancers and promoters and thereby regulate gene expression. They also facilitate DNA replication and recombination. Given all its essential functions, it is not surprising that mutations in cohesin and its interacting factors have been associated to cancer and developmental syndromes known as cohesinopathies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chromatids / metabolism
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism*
  • Chromosome Segregation
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • DNA Replication
  • Disease
  • Homologous Recombination
  • Humans
  • Interphase
  • Meiosis
  • Mitosis
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism


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