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Chromosome Res. 2003;11(3):255-62.

Using Arabidopsis to understand centromere function: progress and prospects.

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  • Department of Biology, The Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB 3280, Coker Hall 305, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. gcopenhaver@bio.unc.edu


Arabidopsis thaliana has emerged in recent years as a leading model for understanding the structure and function of higher eukaryotic centromeres. Arabidopsis centromeres, like those of virtually all higher eukaryotes, encompass large DNA domains consisting of a complex combination of unique, dispersed middle repetitive and highly repetitive DNA. For this reason, they have required creative analysis using molecular, genetic, cytological and genomic techniques. This synergy of approaches, reinforced by rapid progress in understanding how proteins interact with the centromere DNA to form a complete functional unit, has made Arabidopsis one the best understood centromere systems. Yet major problems remain to be solved: gaining a complete structural definition of the centromere has been surprisingly difficult, and developing synthetic mini-chromosomes in plants has been even more challenging.

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