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J Cell Sci. 2004 Dec 15;117(Pt 26):6435-45. Epub 2004 Nov 30.

Distinct functions of condensin I and II in mitotic chromosome assembly.

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Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Dr Bohr-Gasse 7, 1030 Vienna, Austria.


Condensin is a protein complex associated with mitotic chromosomes that has been implicated in chromosome condensation. In vertebrates, two types of condensin complexes have recently been identified, called condensin I and II. Here, we show that in mammalian cells condensin II associates with chromatin in prophase, in contrast to condensin I which is cytoplasmic and can thus interact with chromosomes only after nuclear envelope breakdown. RNA interference experiments in conjunction with imaging of live and fixed cells revealed that condensin II is required for chromosome condensation in early prophase, whereas condensin I appears to be dispensable at this stage. By contrast, condensin I is required for the complete dissociation of cohesin from chromosome arms, for chromosome shortening and for normal timing of progression through prometaphase and metaphase, whereas normal condensin II levels are dispensable for these processes. After depletion of both condensin complexes, the onset of chromosome condensation is delayed until the end of prophase, but is then initiated rapidly before nuclear envelope breakdown. These results reveal that condensin II and I associate with chromosomes sequentially and have distinct functions in mitotic chromosome assembly.

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