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Trends Cell Biol. 2014 Dec;24(12):727-33. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2014.06.007. Epub 2014 Aug 1.

Condensins and the evolution of torsion-mediated genome organization.

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Chromosome Dynamics Laboratory, RIKEN, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan. Electronic address:


At first glance, bacteria and eukaryotes appear to use different strategies to pack and organize their genomes. At the basal level, bacterial genome compaction relies on unconstrained, negative supercoils, whereas eukaryotic genomes are packaged into nucleosomes via constrained, negative supercoils. Here, I integrate the action of condensins, chromosome-packaging complexes conserved from bacteria to humans, into this picture, and discuss how torsional stress on DNA might have dual impacts on genome organization and function. A common theme is that organisms have evolved flexible and reversible strategies to pack their genomes while keeping them readily accessible to many activities such as gene expression.


DNA supercoiling; chromosomes; condensins; evolution; genomes; nucleosomes

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