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Chromosome Res. 2012 Jul;20(5):535-46. doi: 10.1007/s10577-012-9297-9.

Pericentric and centromeric transcription: a perfect balance required.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.


The pericentromere and centromere regions of the genome have previously been considered tightly compacted and transcriptionally inert. However, there is mounting evidence that these regions not only actively produce transcripts but that these pericentric and centromeric transcripts are also vital to maintaining genome stability and proper cell division. In this review, we define the pericentromere and centromere of eukaryotic chromosomes in terms of their histone modifications and their nascent transcripts. In addition, we present the currently known roles these transcripts play in heterochromatin formation, development, and differentiation, as well as their interaction with centromeric proteins, and ultimately centromere function. Recent work has added considerable complexity to the theoretical framework defining the innate requirement for pericentric and centromeric transcription. It is clear that maintaining a fine balance of transcriptional output is critical, as deviations from this balance result in centromere disfunction and genomic instability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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