The cohesin complex holds the sister chromatids together from S-phase until the metaphase-to-anaphase transition, and ensures both their proper cohesion and timely separation. In addition to its canonical function in chromosomal segregation, cohesin has been suggested by several lines of investigation in recent years to play additional roles in apoptosis, DNA-damage response, transcriptional regulation and haematopoiesis. To better understand the basis of the disparate cellular functions of cohesin in these various processes, we have characterized a comprehensive protein interactome of cohesin–RAD21 by using three independent approaches: Y2H (yeast two-hybrid) screening, immunoprecipitation-coupled-MS of cytoplasmic and nuclear extracts from MOLT-4 T-lymphocytes in the presence and absence of etoposide-induced apoptosis, and affinity pull-down assays of chromatographically purified nuclear extracts from pro-apoptotic MOLT-4 cells. Our analyses revealed 112 novel protein interactors of cohesin–RAD21 that function in different cellular processes, including mitosis, regulation of apoptosis, chromosome dynamics, replication, transcription regulation, RNA processing, DNA-damage response, protein modification and degradation, and cytoskeleton and cell motility. Identification of cohesin interactors provides a framework for explaining the various non-canonical functions of the cohesin complex.

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