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Genes Dev. 2005 Jun 1;19(11):1269-87.

Dynamic molecular linkers of the genome: the first decade of SMC proteins.

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Spanish National Cancer Center (CNIO), Madrid.


Structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) proteins are chromosomal ATPases, highly conserved from bacteria to humans, that play fundamental roles in many aspects of higher-order chromosome organization and dynamics. In eukaryotes, SMC1 and SMC3 act as the core of the cohesin complexes that mediate sister chromatid cohesion, whereas SMC2 and SMC4 function as the core of the condensin complexes that are essential for chromosome assembly and segregation. Another complex containing SMC5 and SMC6 is implicated in DNA repair and checkpoint responses. The SMC complexes form unique ring- or V-shaped structures with long coiled-coil arms, and function as ATP-modulated, dynamic molecular linkers of the genome. Recent studies shed new light on the mechanistic action of these SMC machines and also expanded the repertoire of their diverse cellular functions. Dissecting this class of chromosomal ATPases is likely to be central to our understanding of the structural basis of genome organization, stability, and evolution.

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