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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 12;8(7):e69458. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069458. Print 2013.

Characterization of the interaction between the cohesin subunits Rad21 and SA1/2.

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Texas Children' Cancer Center, Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.

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  • PLoS One. 2013;8(8). doi:10.1371/annotation/69ab23f6-7d99-4098-85ca-999da9093ec8.


The cohesin complex is responsible for the fidelity of chromosomal segregation during mitosis. It consists of four core subunits, namely Rad21/Mcd1/Scc1, Smc1, Smc3, and one of the yeast Scc3 orthologs SA1 or SA2. Sister chromatid cohesion is generated during DNA replication and maintained until the onset of anaphase. Among the many proposed models of the cohesin complex, the 'core' cohesin subunits Smc1, Smc3, and Rad21 are almost universally displayed as tripartite ring. However, other than its supportive role in the cohesin ring, little is known about the fourth core subunit SA1/SA2. To gain deeper insight into the function of SA1/SA2 in the cohesin complex, we have mapped the interactive regions of SA2 and Rad21 in vitro and ex vivo. Whereas SA2 interacts with Rad21 through a broad region (301-750 aa), Rad21 binds to SA proteins through two SA-binding motifs on Rad21, namely N-terminal (NT) and middle part (MP) SA-binding motif, located at 60-81 aa of the N-terminus and 383-392 aa of the MP of Rad21, respectively. The MP SA-binding motif is a 10 amino acid, α-helical motif. Deletion of these 10 amino acids or mutation of three conserved amino acids (L(385), F(389), and T(390)) in this α-helical motif significantly hinders Rad21 from physically interacting with SA1/2. Besides the MP SA-binding motif, the NT SA-binding motif is also important for SA1/2 interaction. Although mutations on both SA-binding motifs disrupt Rad21-SA1/2 interaction, they had no apparent effect on the Smc1-Smc3-Rad21 interaction. However, the Rad21-Rad21 dimerization was reduced by the mutations, indicating potential involvement of the two SA-binding motifs in the formation of the two-ring handcuff for chromosomal cohesion. Furthermore, mutant Rad21 proteins failed to significantly rescue precocious chromosome separation caused by depletion of endogenous Rad21 in mitotic cells, further indicating the physiological significance of the two SA-binding motifs of Rad21.

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