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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 16;108(33):E498-505. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103190108. Epub 2011 Jul 11.

Loss of centromeric histone H3 (CENH3) from centromeres precedes uniparental chromosome elimination in interspecific barley hybrids.

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Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, 06466 Gatersleben, Germany.


Uniparental chromosome elimination occurs in several interspecific hybrids of plants. We studied the mechanism underlying selective elimination of the paternal chromosomes during the early development of Hordeum vulgare × Hordeum bulbosum embryos. The following conclusions regarding the role of the centromere-specific histone H3 variant (CENH3) in the process of chromosome elimination were drawn: (i) centromere inactivity of H. bulbosum chromosomes triggers the mitosis-dependent process of uniparental chromosome elimination in unstable H. vulgare × H. bulbosum hybrids; (ii) centromeric loss of CENH3 protein rather than uniparental silencing of CENH3 genes causes centromere inactivity; (iii) in stable species combinations, cross-species incorporation of CENH3 occurs despite centromere-sequence differences, and not all CENH3 variants get incorporated into centromeres if multiple CENH3s are present in species combinations; and (iv) diploid barley species encode two CENH3 variants, the proteins of which are intermingled within centromeres throughout mitosis and meiosis.

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