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Brief Funct Genomics. 2012 May;11(3):205-16. doi: 10.1093/bfgp/elr048. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Cohesin-mediated chromatin interactions--into the third dimension of gene regulation.

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  • 1University College London Cancer Institute, UK.


A comprehensive description of the complex three-dimensional organization of our genome and of the protein complexes mediating this organization is required in order to fully appreciate the regulation of gene activity contained within it. This review will focus on the emerging role of cohesin proteins in the regulation of gene expression and specifically their role in mediating chromatin interactions. Cohesin complexes are essential for cell division, and it is becoming increasingly clear that these adaptable structures perform a wide variety of chromosomal functions during all parts of the cell cycle. We will review recent literature which provides evidence that cohesin complexes function during interphase to facilitate interactions between long-distance DNA elements important for appropriate gene activity. It seems probable that the role for cohesins in mediating chromatin loops at particular loci is of general importance in defining global genome organization.

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