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Reference: Glynn M, et al. (2010) Centromeres: assembling and propagating epigenetic function. Subcell Biochem 50:223-49

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Abstract


The faithful replication of DNA and the accurate segregation of genomic material from one generation to the next is critical in the maintenance of genomic stability. This chapter will describe the structure and assembly of an epigenetically inherited locus, the centromere, and its role in the processes by which sister chromatids are evenly segregated to daughter cells. During the G2 phase of the cell cycle kinetochores are assembled upon the chromatids. During mitosis, kinetochores attach chromosome(s) to the mitotic spindle. The kinetochore structure serves as the interface between the mitotic spindle and the chromatids and it is at the kinetochore where the forces that drive chromatid separation are generated. Unattached chromosomes fail to satisfy the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), resulting in cell cycle arrest. The centromere is the locus upon which the kinetochore assembles, and centromeres themselves are determined by their unique protein composition. Apart from budding yeast, centromeres are not specified simply by DNA sequence, but rather through chromatin composition and architecture and are thus epigenetically determined. Centromeres are built on a specific nucleosome not found elsewhere in the genome, in which histone H3 is replaced with a homologue - CENP-A or CenH3. This domain is flanked by heterochromatin and is folded to provide a 3-dimensional cylinder-like structure at metaphase that establishes the kinetochore on the surface of the mitotic chromosomes. A large family of CENtromere Proteins (CENPs) associates with centromeric chromatin throughout the cell cycle and are required for kinetochore function. Unlike the bulk of histones, CENP-A is not assembled concurrently with DNA synthesis in S-phase but rather assembles into the centromere in the subsequent G1 phase. The assembly of CENP-A chromatin following DNA replication and the re-establishment of this network of constitutive proteins have emerged as critical mechanisms for understanding how the centromere is replicated during the cell cycle.

Reference Type
Journal Article
Authors
Glynn M, Kaczmarczyk A, Prendergast L, Quinn N, Sullivan KF
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