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J Cell Biol. 2000 May 15;149(4):811-24.

The condensin complex governs chromosome condensation and mitotic transmission of rDNA.

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Unit of Chromosome Structure and Function, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, Bethesda, MD 20892-5430, USA.


We have characterized five genes encoding condensin components in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. All genes are essential for cell viability and encode proteins that form a complex in vivo. We characterized new mutant alleles of the genes encoding the core subunits of this complex, smc2-8 and smc4-1. Both SMC2 and SMC4 are essential for chromosome transmission in anaphase. Mutations in these genes cause defects in establishing condensation of unique (chromosome VIII arm) and repetitive (rDNA) regions of the genome but do not impair sister chromatid cohesion. In vivo localization of Smc4p fused to green fluorescent protein showed that, unexpectedly, in S. cerevisiae the condensin complex concentrates in the rDNA region at the G2/M phase of the cell cycle. rDNA segregation in mitosis is delayed and/or stalled in smc2 and smc4 mutants, compared with separation of pericentromeric and distal arm regions. Mitotic transmission of chromosome III carrying the rDNA translocation is impaired in smc2 and smc4 mutants. Thus, the condensin complex in S. cerevisiae has a specialized function in mitotic segregation of the rDNA locus. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis revealed that condensin is physically associated with rDNA in vivo. Thus, the rDNA array is the first identified set of DNA sequences specifically bound by condensin in vivo. The biological role of higher-order chromosome structure in S. cerevisiae is discussed.

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