The condensin complex is a mechanochemical motor that translocates along DNA

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Science  03 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6363, pp. 672-676
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan6516

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Condensin is a highly processive DNA motor

Condensin is thought to regulate genome architecture by creating DNA loops. Terakawa et al. used single-molecule imaging to show that yeast condensin is a highly processive mechanochemical motor capable of translocating along DNA (see the Perspective by Nasmyth). Their findings elucidate how the rapid ATP hydrolysis–dependent motor activity of condensin provides the driving forces necessary to support three-dimensional chromosome organization and compaction through a loop extrusion mechanism.

Science, this issue p. 672; see also p. 589


Condensin plays crucial roles in chromosome organization and compaction, but the mechanistic basis for its functions remains obscure. We used single-molecule imaging to demonstrate that Saccharomyces cerevisiae condensin is a molecular motor capable of adenosine triphosphate hydrolysis–dependent translocation along double-stranded DNA. Condensin’s translocation activity is rapid and highly processive, with individual complexes traveling an average distance of ≥10 kilobases at a velocity of ~60 base pairs per second. Our results suggest that condensin may take steps comparable in length to its ~50-nanometer coiled-coil subunits, indicative of a translocation mechanism that is distinct from any reported for a DNA motor protein. The finding that condensin is a mechanochemical motor has important implications for understanding the mechanisms of chromosome organization and condensation.

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