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J Biol Chem. 2001 Feb 23;276(8):5417-20. Epub 2001 Jan 2.

Chromosome condensation by a human condensin complex in Xenopus egg extracts.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.


13S condensin is a five-subunit protein complex that plays a central role in mitotic chromosome condensation. The condensin complex was originally identified and purified from Xenopus egg extracts and shown to have an ATP-dependent positive supercoiling activity in vitro. We report here the characterization of a human condensin complex purified from HeLa cell nuclear extracts. The human 13S complex has exactly the same composition as its Xenopus counterpart, being composed of two structural maintenance of chromosomes (human chromosome-associated polypeptide (hCAP)-C and hCAP-E) subunits and three non-structural maintenance of chromosomes (hCAP-D2/CNAP1, hCAP-G, and hCAP-H/BRRN) subunits. Human condensin purified from asynchronous HeLa cell cultures fails to reconfigure DNA structure in vitro. When phosphorylated by purified cdc2-cyclin B, however, it gains the ability to introduce positive supercoils into DNA in the presence of ATP and topoisomerase I. Strikingly, human condensin can induce chromosome condensation when added back into a Xenopus egg extract that has been immunodepleted of endogenous condensin. Thus, the structure and function of the condensin complex are highly conserved between Xenopus and humans, underscoring its fundamental importance in mitotic chromosome dynamics in eukaryotic cells.

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