How centromeres are passed on

Stiff structure of centromere protein may ensure faithful chromosome inheritance

Melissa Phillips(mlphilli@u.washington.edu )
Jul 28, 2004

Several recent studies have shown that a protein specific to centromeres—known as CENtromere Protein-A (CENP-A) in humans—is necessary across eukaryotes to preserve centromere location, but exactly how it does so has been unclear. Using a new technique, a group of researchers report in Nature this week that they have located a small stretch of human CENP-A that stiffens the centromere, creating an epigenetic mark that faithfully passes centromere identity to daughter cells.

CENP-A is a homolog of the nucleosomal protein histone H3, which forms tetramers with histone H4 throughout most genomic chromatin. At centromeres, however, CENP-A replaces H3. Ben Black, a postdoc at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues used a new mass spectrometry technique to show that one region of CENP-A is much more compact than the homologous region of H3. This rigid region is an epigenetic tag,...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?