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Communication between distinct subunit interfaces of the cohesin complex promotes its topological entrapment of DNA


Cohesin mediates higher order chromosome structure. Its biological activities require topological entrapment of DNA within a lumen(s) formed by cohesin subunits. The reversible dissociation of cohesin's Smc3p and Mcd1p subunits is postulated to form a regulated gate that allows DNA entry and exit into the lumen. We assessed gate-independent functions of this interface in yeast using a fusion protein that joins Smc3p to Mcd1p. We show that in vivo all the regulators of cohesin promote DNA binding of cohesin by mechanisms independent of opening this gate. Furthermore, we show that this interface has a gate-independent activity essential for cohesin to bind chromosomes. We propose that this interface regulates DNA entrapment by controlling the opening and closing of one or more distal interfaces formed by cohesin subunits, likely by inducing a conformation change in cohesin. Furthermore, cohesin regulators modulate the interface to control both DNA entrapment and cohesin functions after DNA binding.

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