Eco1 is a novel acetyltransferase that can acetylate proteins involved in cohesion.
Cohesion between sister chromatids is established during S phase and maintained through G2 phase until it is resolved in anaphase (for review, see [1-3]). In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a complex consisting of Scc1, Smc1, Smc3, and Scc3 proteins, called "cohesin," mediates the connection between sister chromatids. The evolutionary conserved yeast protein Eco1 is required for establishment of sister chromatid cohesion during S phase but not for its further maintenance during G2 or M phases or for loading the cohesin complex onto DNA. We address the molecular functions of Eco1 with sensitive sequence analytic techniques, including hidden Markov model domain fragment searches. We found a two-domain architecture with an N-terminal C2H2 Zn finger-like domain and an approximately 150 residue C-terminal domain with an apparent acetyl coenzyme A binding motif (http://mendel.imp.univie.ac.at/SEQUENCES/ECO1/). Biochemical tests confirm that Eco1 has the acetyltransferase activity in vitro. In vitro Eco1 acetylates itself and components of the cohesin complex but not histones. Thus, the establishment of cohesion between sister chromatids appears to be regulated, directly or indirectly, by a specific acetyltransferase.