SMC complexes and topoisomerase II work together so that sister chromatids can work apart

Claudia Tapia-Alveal, Emily A. Outwin, Natalia Trempolec, Dorota Dziadkowiec, Johanne M. Murray, Matthew J. O'Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The pairing of sister chromatids in interphase facilitates error-free homologous recombination (HR). Sister chromatids are held together by cohesin, one of three Structural Maintenance of Chromosomes (SMC) complexes. In mitosis, chromosome condensation is controlled by another SMC complex, condensin, and the type II topoisomerase (Top2). In prophase, cohesin is stripped from chromosome arms, but remains at centromeres until anaphase, whereupon it is removed via proteolytic cleavage by separase. The third SMC complex, Smc5/6, is generally described as a regulator of HR-mediated DNA repair. However, cohesin and condensin are also required for DNA repair, and HR genes are not essential for cell viability, but the SMC complexes are. Smc5/6 null mutants die in mitosis, and in fission yeast, Smc5/6 hypomorphs show lethal mitoses following genotoxic stress, or when combined with a Top2 mutant, top2-191. We found these mitotic defects are due to retention of cohesin on chromosome arms. We also show that Top2 functions in the cohesin cycle, and accumulating data suggests this is not related to its decatenation activity. Thus the SMC complexes and Top2 functionally interact, and any DNA repair function ascribed to Smc5/6 is likely a reflection of a more fundamental role in the regulation of chromosome structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2065-2070
Number of pages6
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2010


  • Cohesin
  • Genome stability
  • Mitosis
  • Smc5/6
  • Topoisomerase II


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