The maintenance of chromosome structure: positioning and functioning of SMC complexes

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Sep;15(9):601-14. doi: 10.1038/nrm3857.


Structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) complexes, which in eukaryotic cells include cohesin, condensin and the Smc5/6 complex, are central regulators of chromosome dynamics and control sister chromatid cohesion, chromosome condensation, DNA replication, DNA repair and transcription. Even though the molecular mechanisms that lead to this large range of functions are still unclear, it has been established that the complexes execute their functions through their association with chromosomal DNA. A large set of data also indicates that SMC complexes work as intermolecular and intramolecular linkers of DNA. When combining these insights with results from ongoing analyses of their chromosomal binding, and how this interaction influences the structure and dynamics of chromosomes, a picture of how SMC complexes carry out their many functions starts to emerge.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chromatids / genetics
  • Chromatids / metabolism
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Chromosomes, Human / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human / metabolism*
  • DNA Repair / physiology
  • DNA Replication / physiology
  • Humans
  • Multiprotein Complexes / genetics
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • SMC5 protein, human
  • SMC6 protein, human