Nucleosome eviction in mitosis assists condensin loading and chromosome condensation

EMBO J. 2016 Jul 15;35(14):1565-81. doi: 10.15252/embj.201592849. Epub 2016 Jun 6.


Condensins associate with DNA and shape mitotic chromosomes. Condensins are enriched nearby highly expressed genes during mitosis, but how this binding is achieved and what features associated with transcription attract condensins remain unclear. Here, we report that condensin accumulates at or in the immediate vicinity of nucleosome-depleted regions during fission yeast mitosis. Two transcriptional coactivators, the Gcn5 histone acetyltransferase and the RSC chromatin-remodelling complex, bind to promoters adjoining condensin-binding sites and locally evict nucleosomes to facilitate condensin binding and allow efficient mitotic chromosome condensation. The function of Gcn5 is closely linked to condensin positioning, since neither the localization of topoisomerase II nor that of the cohesin loader Mis4 is altered in gcn5 mutant cells. We propose that nucleosomes act as a barrier for the initial binding of condensin and that nucleosome-depleted regions formed at highly expressed genes by transcriptional coactivators constitute access points into chromosomes where condensin binds free genomic DNA.

Keywords: Gcn5; RSC; condensin; nucleosome remodelling.

MeSH terms

  • Acetyltransferases / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism*
  • Base Composition
  • Chromosomes, Fungal / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitosis*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism*
  • Schizosaccharomyces / physiology*
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nucleosomes
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • condensin complexes
  • Acetyltransferases
  • Gcn5 protein, S pombe
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases