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Genome Biol Evol. 2011;3:1136-49. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evr083. Epub 2011 Aug 9.

Organization and molecular evolution of CENP-A--associated satellite DNA families in a basal primate genome.

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  • 1Genome Biology Group, Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, Duke University, USA.


Centromeric regions in many complex eukaryotic species contain highly repetitive satellite DNAs. Despite the diversity of centromeric DNA sequences among species, the functional centromeres in all species studied to date are marked by CENP-A, a centromere-specific histone H3 variant. Although it is well established that families of multimeric higher-order alpha satellite are conserved at the centromeres of human and great ape chromosomes and that diverged monomeric alpha satellite is found in old and new world monkey genomes, little is known about the organization, function, and evolution of centromeric sequences in more distant primates, including lemurs. Aye-Aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a basal primate and is located at a key position in the evolutionary tree to study centromeric satellite transitions in primate genomes. Using the approach of chromatin immunoprecipitation with antibodies directed to CENP-A, we have identified two satellite families, Daubentonia madagascariensis Aye-Aye 1 (DMA1) and Daubentonia madagascariensis Aye-Aye 2 (DMA2), related to each other but unrelated in sequence to alpha satellite or any other previously described primate or mammalian satellite DNA families. Here, we describe the initial genomic and phylogenetic organization of DMA1 and DMA2 and present evidence of higher-order repeats in Aye-Aye centromeric domains, providing an opportunity to study the emergence of chromosome-specific modes of satellite DNA evolution in primate genomes.

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