Non-redundant roles in sister chromatid cohesion of the DNA helicase DDX11 and the SMC3 acetyl transferases ESCO1 and ESCO2

PLoS One. 2020 Jan 14;15(1):e0220348. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220348. eCollection 2020.


In a process linked to DNA replication, duplicated chromosomes are entrapped in large, circular cohesin complexes and functional sister chromatid cohesion (SCC) is established by acetylation of the SMC3 cohesin subunit. Roberts Syndrome (RBS) and Warsaw Breakage Syndrome (WABS) are rare human developmental syndromes that are characterized by defective SCC. RBS is caused by mutations in the SMC3 acetyltransferase ESCO2, whereas mutations in the DNA helicase DDX11 lead to WABS. We found that WABS-derived cells predominantly rely on ESCO2, not ESCO1, for residual SCC, growth and survival. Reciprocally, RBS-derived cells depend on DDX11 to maintain low levels of SCC. Synthetic lethality between DDX11 and ESCO2 correlated with a prolonged delay in mitosis, and was rescued by knockdown of the cohesin remover WAPL. Rescue experiments using human or mouse cDNAs revealed that DDX11, ESCO1 and ESCO2 act on different but related aspects of SCC establishment. Furthermore, a DNA binding DDX11 mutant failed to correct SCC in WABS cells and DDX11 deficiency reduced replication fork speed. We propose that DDX11, ESCO1 and ESCO2 control different fractions of cohesin that are spatially and mechanistically separated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetyltransferases / genetics*
  • Acetyltransferases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chromatids / metabolism*
  • Chromatids / ultrastructure
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism
  • Chromosome Breakage
  • Chromosome Segregation
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / enzymology
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / genetics
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / pathology
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / genetics*
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / metabolism
  • DNA Helicases / genetics*
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism
  • Ectromelia / enzymology
  • Ectromelia / genetics
  • Ectromelia / pathology
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology*
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Fibroblasts / enzymology*
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Hypertelorism / enzymology
  • Hypertelorism / genetics
  • Hypertelorism / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mitosis
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • WAPL protein, human
  • cohesins
  • Acetyltransferases
  • ESCO1 protein, human
  • ESCO2 protein, human
  • DNA Helicases
  • DDX11 protein, human
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases

Supplementary concepts

  • Roberts Syndrome

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific research (TOP-GO grant 854.10.013), the Cancer Center Amsterdam (grant CCA2015-5-25) and by the Dutch Cancer Society (Young Investigator grant 10701/2016-2, to JdL). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.