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Nat Commun. 2016 Jan 4;7:10200. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10200.

Multistep assembly of DNA condensation clusters by SMC.

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Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


SMC (structural maintenance of chromosomes) family members play essential roles in chromosome condensation, sister chromatid cohesion and DNA repair. It remains unclear how SMCs structure chromosomes and how their mechanochemical cycle regulates their interactions with DNA. Here we used single-molecule fluorescence microscopy to visualize how Bacillus subtilis SMC (BsSMC) interacts with flow-stretched DNAs. We report that BsSMC can slide on DNA, switching between static binding and diffusion. At higher concentrations, BsSMCs form clusters that condense DNA in a weakly ATP-dependent manner. ATP increases the apparent cooperativity of DNA condensation, demonstrating that BsSMC can interact cooperatively through their ATPase head domains. Consistent with these results, ATPase mutants compact DNA more slowly than wild-type BsSMC in the presence of ATP. Our results suggest that transiently static BsSMC molecules can nucleate the formation of clusters that act to locally condense the chromosome while forming long-range DNA bridges.

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