Structural and Functional Studies of the human cohesin subunits Rad21 and SA2
Tao, Yizhi Jane
Doctor of Philosophy
The cohesin complex is responsible for the fidelity of chromosomal segregation during mitosis. It consists of four core subunits namely Rad21/Mcd1/Sccl, Smc1, Smc3 and one of the yeast Scc3 orthologs SA1 or SA2. Sister chromatid cohesion is formed by the cohesin complex during DNA replication and maintained until the onset of anaphase. Among the many proposed models of how cohesin holds sister chromatids together, the 'core' cohesin subunits Smc1, Smc3 and Rad21/Mcd1/Scc1 are almost universally displayed as forming a contiguous ring. However, other than its supportive role in the cohesin ring, little is known about the fourth core protein SA1/SA2 - despite its physical association to the cohesin ring. To gain deeper insight into how physically and physiologically SA2 interacts with the cohesin complex, we performed structural characterization of SA2 and Rad21 and mapped the interaction region of the two proteins in vitro and ex vivo . We found SA2 interacts with Rad21 at multiple domains while Rad21 only interacts with SA2 through a 10 amino acid α-helical motif from 383-392aa. Deletion of these 10 amino acids or mutation of three conserved amino acids (L385, F389, and T390) in this α-helical motif prevents Rad21 from physically interacting with SA2/SA1 and causes premature sister chromatid separation in mitotic cells that often leads to aneuploidy. Our studies provide a model for how SA2 structurally strengthens the cohesin ring through its interaction with Rad21. Results from our structural characterization of these two proteins also provided directions for further investigation of the structural basis of protein-protein interaction in the cohesin complex.