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PLoS Genet. 2016 Apr 25;12(4):e1005997. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005997. eCollection 2016 Apr.

De Novo Centromere Formation and Centromeric Sequence Expansion in Wheat and its Wide Hybrids.

Guo X1,2, Su H1,2, Shi Q1,2, Fu S3, Wang J1,2, Zhang X1, Hu Z1, Han F1.

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State Key Laboratory of Plant Cell and Chromosome Engineering, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
State Key Laboratory of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Sichuan Agricultural University, Wenjiang, Chengdu, Sichuan, China.


Centromeres typically contain tandem repeat sequences, but centromere function does not necessarily depend on these sequences. We identified functional centromeres with significant quantitative changes in the centromeric retrotransposons of wheat (CRW) contents in wheat aneuploids (Triticum aestivum) and the offspring of wheat wide hybrids. The CRW signals were strongly reduced or essentially lost in some wheat ditelosomic lines and in the addition lines from the wide hybrids. The total loss of the CRW sequences but the presence of CENH3 in these lines suggests that the centromeres were formed de novo. In wheat and its wide hybrids, which carry large complex genomes or no sequenced genome, we performed CENH3-ChIP-dot-blot methods alone or in combination with CENH3-ChIP-seq and identified the ectopic genomic sequences present at the new centromeres. In adcdition, the transcription of the identified DNA sequences was remarkably increased at the new centromere, suggesting that the transcription of the corresponding sequences may be associated with de novo centromere formation. Stable alien chromosomes with two and three regions containing CRW sequences induced by centromere breakage were observed in the wheat-Th. elongatum hybrid derivatives, but only one was a functional centromere. In wheat-rye (Secale cereale) hybrids, the rye centromere-specific sequences spread along the chromosome arms and may have caused centromere expansion. Frequent and significant quantitative alterations in the centromere sequence via chromosomal rearrangement have been systematically described in wheat wide hybridizations, which may affect the retention or loss of the alien chromosomes in the hybrids. Thus, the centromere behavior in wide crosses likely has an important impact on the generation of biodiversity, which ultimately has implications for speciation.

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