Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 66, Issue 13, pp 2025–2035 | Cite as

Cohesins: chromatin architects in chromosome segregation, control of gene expression and much more



Cells have evolved to develop molecules and control mechanisms that guarantee correct chromosome segregation and ensure the proper distribution of genetic material to daughter cells. In this sense, the establishment, maintenance, and removal of sister chromatid cohesion is one of the most fascinating and dangerous processes in the life of a cell because errors in the control of these processes frequently lead to cell death or aneuploidy. The main protagonist in this mechanism is a four-protein complex denominated the cohesin complex. In the last 10 years, we have improved our understanding of the key players in the regulation of sister chromatid cohesion during cell division in mitosis and meiosis. The last 2 years have seen an increase in evidence showing that cohesins have important functions in non-dividing cells, revealing new, unexplored roles for these proteins in the control of gene expression, development, and other essential cell functions in mammals.


Centrosomes Chromosome segregation Cohesin Cohesinopathies Gene expression control Insulators Neuron development Sister chromatid cohesion 



I apologize to all colleagues whose contributions have not been referenced due to space restrictions. We thank C. Mark for editorial assistance. This work was supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (grants BFU2006-04406/BMC) and the Comunidad de Madrid (P-BIO-0189-2006).


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© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Biología Celular y del DesarrolloCentro de Investigaciones Biológicas (CSIC)MadridSpain

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