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J Biol Chem. 2013 Jun 28;288(26):19184-96. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.471276. Epub 2013 May 9.

Plasticity and epigenetic inheritance of centromere-specific histone H3 (CENP-A)-containing nucleosome positioning in the fission yeast.

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Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Nucleosomes containing the specific histone H3 variant CENP-A mark the centromere locus on each chromatin and initiate kinetochore assembly. For the common type of regional centromeres, little is known in molecular detail of centromeric chromatin organization, its propagation through cell division, and how distinct organization patterns may facilitate kinetochore assembly. Here, we show that in the fission yeast S. pombe, a relatively small number of CENP-A/Cnp1 nucleosomes are found within the centromeric core and that their positioning relative to underlying DNA varies among genetically homogenous cells. Consistent with the flexible positioning of Cnp1 nucleosomes, a large portion of the endogenous centromere is dispensable for its essential activity in mediating chromosome segregation. We present biochemical evidence that Cnp1 occupancy directly correlates with silencing of the underlying reporter genes. Furthermore, using a newly developed pedigree analysis assay, we demonstrated the epigenetic inheritance of Cnp1 positioning and quantified the rate of occasional repositioning of Cnp1 nucleosomes throughout cell generations. Together, our results reveal the plasticity and the epigenetically inheritable nature of centromeric chromatin organization.


CENP-A Nucleosome Positioning; Centromeres; Chromatin Regulation; Chromosomes; Epigenetic Inheritance Fidelity; Genetics; Nucleosome; Plasticity

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