Emerging themes in cohesin cancer biology

Bladder Cancer

Waldman T. Nat Rev Cancer 2020 - Review.


Mutations of the cohesin complex in human cancer were first discovered ~10 years ago. Since then, researchers worldwide have demonstrated that cohesin is among the most commonly mutated protein complexes in cancer. Inactivating mutations in genes encoding cohesin subunits are common in bladder cancers, paediatric sarcomas, leukaemias, brain tumours and other cancer types. Also in those 10 years, the prevailing view of the functions of cohesin in cell biology has undergone a revolutionary

transformation. Initially, the predominant view of cohesin was as a ring that encircled and cohered replicated chromosomes until its cleavage triggered the metaphase-to-anaphase transition. As such, early studies focused on the role of tumour-derived cohesin mutations in the fidelity of chromosome segregation and aneuploidy. However, over the past 5 years the cohesin field has shifted dramatically, and research now focuses on the primary role of cohesin in generating, maintaining and regulating the intra-chromosomal DNA looping events that modulate 3D genome organization and gene expression. This Review focuses on recent discoveries in the cohesin field that provide insight into the role of cohesin inactivation in cancer pathogenesis, and opportunities for exploiting these findings for the clinical benefit of patients with cohesin-mutant cancers.