Complex elaboration: making sense of meiotic cohesin dynamics

FEBS J. 2015 Jul;282(13):2426-43. doi: 10.1111/febs.13301. Epub 2015 May 9.


In mitotically dividing cells, the cohesin complex tethers sister chromatids, the products of DNA replication, together from the time they are generated during S phase until anaphase. Cohesion between sister chromatids ensures accurate chromosome segregation, and promotes normal gene regulation and certain kinds of DNA repair. In somatic cells, the core cohesin complex is composed of four subunits: Smc1, Smc3, Rad21 and an SA subunit. During meiotic cell divisions meiosis-specific isoforms of several of the cohesin subunits are also expressed and incorporated into distinct meiotic cohesin complexes. The relative contributions of these meiosis-specific forms of cohesin to chromosome dynamics during meiotic progression have not been fully worked out. However, the localization of these proteins during chromosome pairing and synapsis, and their unique loss-of-function phenotypes, suggest non-overlapping roles in controlling meiotic chromosome behavior. Many of the proteins that regulate cohesin function during mitosis also appear to regulate cohesin during meiosis. Here we review how cohesin contributes to meiotic chromosome dynamics, and explore similarities and differences between cohesin regulation during the mitotic cell cycle and meiotic progression. A deeper understanding of the regulation and function of cohesin in meiosis will provide important new insights into how the cohesin complex is able to promote distinct kinds of chromosome interactions under diverse conditions.

Keywords: cell cycle; cohesin complex; cohesin regulation; meiosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / physiology*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / physiology*
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meiosis*
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology
  • Phosphoproteins / physiology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • PDS5A protein, human
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RAD21 protein, human
  • REC8 protein, human
  • STAG3 protein, human
  • WAPL protein, human
  • cohesins
  • structural maintenance of chromosome protein 1