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Genetics. 2019 May 29. pii: genetics.302179.2019. doi: 10.1534/genetics.119.302179. [Epub ahead of print]

Cis and Trans Chromosomal Interactions Define Pericentric Boundaries in the Absence of Conventional Heterochromatin.

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Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research.
Nanyang Technological University.
Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research


The diploid budding yeast Candida albicans harbors unique CENPA-rich 3-5 kb regions that form the centromere (CEN) core on each of its eight chromosomes. The epigenetic nature of these CENs does not permit the stabilization of a functional kinetochore on an exogenously introduced CEN plasmid. The flexible nature of such centromeric chromatin is exemplified by the reversible silencing of a transgene upon its integration into the CENPA-bound region. The lack of a conventional heterochromatin machinery and the absence of defined boundaries of CENPA-chromatin makes the process of CEN specification in this organism elusive. Additionally, upon native CEN deletion, C. albicans can efficiently activate neocentromeres proximal to the native CEN locus, hinting the importance of CEN proximal regions. In this study, we examine this CEN-proximity effect and identify factors for CEN specification in C. albicans We exploit a counterselection assay to isolate cells that can silence a transgene when integrated into the CEN flanking regions. We show that the frequency of reversible silencing of the transgene decreases from the central core of CEN7 to its peripheral regions. Using a publicly available C. albicans Hi-C data, we identify a 25 kb region centring on the CENPA-bound core that acts as CEN-flanking compact chromatin (CFCC). Cis and trans chromosomal interactions associated with the CFCC spatially segregates it from bulk chromatin. We further show that neocentromere activation on chromosome 7 occurs within this specified region. Hence, this study identifies a specialized CEN-proximal domain that specifies and restricts the centromeric activity to a unique region.


CENPA; Candida albicans; Centromere; Hi-C; neocentromere

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