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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2003 Dec;6(6):554-60.

DNA and proteins of plant centromeres.

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Chromosome Structure and Function Group, 06466 Gatersleben, Germany.


In plants, as in all eukaryotes, centromeres are chromatin domains that govern the transmission of nuclear chromosomes to the next generation of cells/individuals. The DNA composition and sequence organization of centromeres has recently been elucidated for a few plant species. Although there is little sequence conservation among centromeres, they usually contain tandem repeats and retroelements. The occurrence of neocentromeres reinforces the idea that the positions of centromeres are determined epigenetically. In contrast to centromeric DNA, structural and transient kinetochoric proteins are highly conserved among eukaryotes. Candidate sequences have been identified for a dozen putative kinetochore protein homologues, and some have been localized to plant centromeres. The kinetochore protein CENH3, which substitutes histone H3 within centromeric nucleosomes, co-immunoprecipitates preferentially with centromeric sequences. The mechanism(s) of centromere assembly and the functional implication of (peri-)centromeric modifications of chromatin remain to be elucidated.

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