Cohesin ensures bipolar attachment of microtubules to sister centromeres and resists their precocious separation.
Tanaka T., Fuchs J., Loidl J., Nasmyth K.
The multisubunit protein complex cohesin is required to establish cohesion between sister chromatids during S phase and to maintain it during G2 and M phases. Cohesin is essential for mitosis, and even partial defects cause very high rates of chromosome loss. In budding yeast, cohesin associates with specific sites which are distributed along the entire length of a chromosome but are more dense in the vicinity of the centromere. Real-time imaging of individual centromeres tagged with green fluorescent protein suggests that cohesin bound to centromeres is important for bipolar attachment to microtubules. This cohesin is, however, incapable of resisting the consequent force, which leads to sister centromere splitting and chromosome stretching. Meanwhile, cohesin bound to sequences flanking the centromeres prevents sister chromatids from completely unzipping and is required to pull back together sister centromeres that have already split. Cohesin therefore has a central role in generating a dynamic tension between microtubules and sister chromatid cohesion at centromeres, which lasts until chromosome segregation is finally promoted by separin-dependent cleavage of the cohesin subunit Scc1p.