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Phase separation induced by cohesin SMC protein complexes

By Je-Kyung Ryu, Celine Bouchoux, Hon Wing Liu, Eugene Kim, Masashi Minamino, Ralph de Groot, Allard J. Katan, Andrea Bonato, Davide Marenduzzo, Davide Michieletto, Frank Uhlmann, Cees Dekker

Posted 14 Jun 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.13.149716

Cohesin is a key protein complex that organizes the spatial structure of chromosomes during interphase. Here, we show that yeast cohesin shows pronounced clustering on DNA in an ATP-independent manner, exhibiting all the hallmarks of phase separation. In vitro visualization of cohesin on DNA shows DNA-cohesin clusters that exhibit liquid-like behavior. This includes mutual fusion and reversible dissociation upon depleting the cohesin concentration, increasing the ionic strength, or adding 1,6-hexanediol, conditions that disrupt weak interactions. We discuss how bridging-induced phase separation can explain the DNA-cohesin clustering through DNA-cohesin-DNA bridges. We confirm that, in vivo, a fraction of cohesin associates with chromatin in yeast cells in a manner consistent with phase separation. Our findings establish that SMC proteins can exhibit phase separation, which has potential to clarify previously unexplained aspects of in vivo SMC behavior and constitute an additional principle by which SMC complexes impact genome organization. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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