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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Feb;70(3):387-406. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-1048-8. Epub 2012 Jun 23.

Putting CENP-A in its place.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia Medical School, PO Box 800733, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


The centromere is the chromosomal region that directs kinetochore assembly during mitosis in order to facilitate the faithful segregation of sister chromatids. The location of the human centromere is epigenetically specified. The presence of nucleosomes that contain the histone H3 variant, CENP-A, are thought to be the epigenetic mark that indicates active centromeres. Maintenance of centromeric identity requires the deposition of new CENP-A nucleosomes with each cell cycle. During S-phase, existing CENP-A nucleosomes are divided among the daughter chromosomes, while new CENP-A nucleosomes are deposited during early G1. The specific assembly of CENP-A nucleosomes at centromeres requires the Mis18 complex, which recruits the CENP-A assembly factor, HJURP. We will review the unique features of centromeric chromatin as well as the mechanism of CENP-A nucleosome deposition. We will also highlight a few recent discoveries that begin to elucidate the factors that temporally and spatially control CENP-A deposition.

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