New clues to understand how CENP-A maintains centromere identity

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The centromere is a specialized chromosomal region that directs the formation of the kinetochore, a huge protein assembly that acts as the attachment site for spindle microtubules and carries out chromosome movement during cell division. Centromere loss or the presence of extra centromeres adversely affect chromosome segregation and may result in aneuploidy, a condition found in many human tumors and a major cause of miscarriages and birth defects. Consequently, understanding the basis of centromere determination and propagation is of great relevance to both fundamental and clinical research. In recent years, it has become clear that centromeres are defined by the presence of a histone H3 variant known as Centromere Protein A, CENP-A, or CenH3. Much effort has been devoted to understanding the mechanisms that drive the assembly of CENP-A containing nucleosomes exclusively onto centromeric DNA, as well as the peculiar structure of these nucleosomes. We have recently developed an immunofluorescence-based assay that measures CENP-A incorporation in the centromeres of chromosomes assembled in Xenopus egg extracts. The spatial and temporal specificity of CENP-A deposition observed in human cells can be recapitulated in this in vitro system, making it suitable to dissect the precise role of the different factors that contribute to this pathway. Here, we discuss our results together with other recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms that mediate centromere inheritance. © 2011 Sánchez and Losada; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Sánchez, P., & Losada, A. (2011, May 9). New clues to understand how CENP-A maintains centromere identity. Cell Division.

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