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Mitotic chromosome condensation, sister chromatid cohesion, and higher order folding of interphase chromatin are mediated by condensin and cohesin, eukaryotic members of the SMC (structural maintenance of chromosomes)-kleisin protein family. Other members facilitate chromosome segregation in bacteria [1]. A hallmark of these complexes is the binding of the two ends of a kleisin subunit to the apices of V-shaped Smc dimers, creating a tripartite ring capable of entrapping DNA (Figure 1A). In addition to creating rings, kleisins recruit regulatory subunits. One family of regulators, namely Kite dimers (Kleisin interacting winged-helix tandem elements), interact with Smc-kleisin rings from bacteria, archaea and the eukaryotic Smc5-6 complex, but not with either condensin or cohesin [2]. These instead possess proteins containing HEAT (Huntingtin/EF3/PP2A/Tor1) repeat domains whose origin and distribution have not yet been characterized. Using a combination of profile Hidden Markov Model (HMM)-based homology searches, network analysis and structural alignments, we identify a common origin for these regulators, for which we propose the name Hawks, i.e. HEAT proteins associated with kleisins.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Biol

Publication Date





R17 - R18


Adenosine Triphosphatases, Cell Cycle Proteins, Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone, Chromosome Segregation, DNA-Binding Proteins, Eukaryota, Evolution, Molecular, Markov Chains, Mitosis, Multiprotein Complexes