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Biochem Cell Biol. 2006 Aug;84(4):619-39.

How to build a centromere: from centromeric and pericentromeric chromatin to kinetochore assembly.

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Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, Experimental Oncology, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, AB, Canada.


The assembly of the centromere, a specialized region of DNA along with a constitutive protein complex which resides at the primary constriction and is the site of kinetochore formation, has been puzzling biologists for many years. Recent advances in the fields of chromatin, microscopy, and proteomics have shed a new light on this complex and essential process. Here we review recently discovered mechanisms and proteins involved in determining mammalian centromere location and assembly. The centromeric core protein CENP-A, a histone H3 variant, is hypothesized to designate centromere localization by incorporation into centromere-specific nucleosomes and is essential for the formation of a functional kinetochore. It has been found that centromere localization of centromere protein A (CENP-A), and therefore centromere determination, requires proteins involved in histone deacetylation, as well as base excision DNA repair pathways and proteolysis. In addition to the incorporation of CENP-A at the centromere, the formation of heterochromatin through histone methylation and RNA interference is also crucial for centromere formation. The assembly of the centromere and kinetochore is complex and interdependent, involving epigenetics and hierarchical protein-protein interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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