12 November 2021

The genetic and epigenetic landscape of the Arabidopsis centromeres

Naish, M., Alonge, M., Wlodzimierez, P., Tock, A., Abramson, B., Schmucker, A., Mandakova, T., Bhagyshree, J., Lambing, C., Kuo, P., Yelina, N., Hartwick, N., Colt, K., Smith. L., Ton, J., Kakutani, K., Martienssen, R., Schneeberger, K., Lysak, M., Berger, F., Bousios, A., Michael, T., Schatz, M. and Henderson, I.R. - Science, 2021


The centromeres of eukaryotic chromosomes assemble the multiprotein kinetochore complex and thereby position attachment to the spindle microtubules, allowing chromosome segregation during cell division. The key function of the centromere is to load nucleosomes containing the CENTROMERE SPECIFIC HISTONE H3 (CENH3) histone variant [also known as centromere protein A (CENPA)], which directs kinetochore formation. Despite their conserved function during chromosome segregation, centromeres show radically diverse organization between species at the sequence level, ranging from single nucleosomes to megabase-scale satellite repeat arrays, which is termed the centromere paradox. Centromeric satellite repeats are variable in sequence composition and length when compared between species and show a high capacity for evolutionary change, both at the levels of primary sequence and array position along the chromosome. However, the genetic and epigenetic features that contribute to centromere function and evolution are incompletely understood, in part because of the challenges of centromere sequence assembly and functional genomics of highly repetitive sequences. New long-read DNA sequencing technologies can now resolve these complex repeat arrays, revealing insights into centromere architecture and chromatin organization.

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