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Cohesin is a ring-shaped protein complex that organises the genome, enabling its condensation, expression, repair and transmission. Cohesin is best known for its role in chromosome segregation, where it provides the cohesion that is established between the two newly duplicated sister chromatids during S phase. This cohesion enables the proper attachment of sister chromatids to microtubules of the spindle by resisting their opposing pulling forces. Once all chromosomes are correctly attached, cohesin is abruptly destroyed, triggering the equal segregation of sister chromatids to opposite poles in anaphase. Here we summarise the molecular functions and regulation of cohesin that underlie its central role in chromosome segregation during mitosis.