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J Cell Biol. 2007 Mar 12;176(6):757-63. Epub 2007 Mar 5.

Functional genomics identifies a Myb domain-containing protein family required for assembly of CENP-A chromatin.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Nucleosomes containing the centromere-specific histone H3 variant centromere protein A (CENP-A) create the chromatin foundation for kinetochore assembly. To understand the mechanisms that selectively target CENP-A to centromeres, we took a functional genomics approach in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, in which failure to load CENP-A results in a signature kinetochore-null (KNL) phenotype. We identified a single protein, KNL-2, that is specifically required for CENP-A incorporation into chromatin. KNL-2 and CENP-A localize to centromeres throughout the cell cycle in an interdependent manner and coordinately direct chromosome condensation, kinetochore assembly, and chromosome segregation. The isolation of KNL-2-associated chromatin coenriched CENP-A, indicating their close proximity on DNA. KNL-2 defines a new conserved family of Myb DNA-binding domain-containing proteins. The human homologue of KNL-2 is also specifically required for CENP-A loading and kinetochore assembly but is only transiently present at centromeres after mitotic exit. These results implicate a new protein class in the assembly of centromeric chromatin and suggest that holocentric and monocentric chromosomes share a common mechanism for CENP-A loading.

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