Plasmodium condensin core subunits SMC2/SMC4 mediate atypical mitosis and are essential for parasite proliferation and transmission.

Condensin is a multi-subunit protein complex regulating chromosome condensation and segregation during cell division. In Plasmodium spp., the causative agent of malaria, cell division is atypical and the role of condensin is unclear. Here we examine the role of SMC2 and SMC4, the core subunits of condensin, during endomitosis in schizogony and endoreduplication in male gametogenesis. During early schizogony, SMC2/SMC4 localize to a distinct focus, identified as the centromeres by NDC80 fluorescence and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) analyses, but do not form condensin I or II complexes. In mature schizonts and during male gametogenesis, there is a diffuse SMC2/SMC4 distribution on chromosomes and in the nucleus, and both condensin I and condensin II complexes form at these stages. Knockdown of smc2 and smc4 gene expression reveals essential roles in parasite proliferation and transmission. The condensin core subunits (SMC2/SMC4) form different complexes and may have distinct functions at various stages of the parasite life cycle.