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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Oct 3;103(40):14877-82. Epub 2006 Sep 26.

Formation of functional centromeric chromatin is specified epigenetically in Candida albicans.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9610, USA.


In the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans, the 3-kb centromeric DNA regions (CEN) of each of the eight chromosomes have different and unique DNA sequences. The centromeric histone CaCse4p (CENP-A homolog) occurs only within these 3-kb CEN regions to form specialized centromeric chromatin. Centromere activity was maintained on small chromosome fragments derived in vivo by homologous recombination of a native chromosome with linear DNA fragments containing a telomere and a selectable marker. An in vivo derived 85-kb truncated chromosome containing the 3-kb CEN7 locus on 69 kb of chromosome 7 DNA was stably and autonomously maintained in mitosis, indicating that preexisting active CEN chromatin remains functional through many generations. This same 85-kb chromosome fragment, isolated as naked DNA (devoid of chromatin proteins) from C. albicans and reintroduced back into C. albicans cells by standard DNA transformation techniques, was unable to reform functional CEN chromatin and was mitotically unstable. Comparison of active and inactive CEN chromatin digested with micrococcal nuclease revealed that periodic nucleosome arrays are disrupted at active centromeres. Chromatin immunoprecipitation with antibodies against CaCse4p confirmed that CEN7 introduced into C. albicans cells as naked DNA did not recruit CaCse4p or induce its spread to a duplicate region only 7 kb away from active CEN7 chromatin. These results indicate that CaCse4p recruitment and centromere activation are epigenetically specified and maintained in C. albicans.

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