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J Mol Evol. 1995 Oct;41(4):487-91.

Presence and abundance of CENP-B box sequences in great ape subsets of primate-specific alpha-satellite DNA.

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Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


CENP-B, a highly conserved centromere-associated protein, binds to alpha-satellite DNA, the centromeric satellite of primate chromosomes, at a 17-bp sequence, the CENP-B box. By fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with an oligomer specific for the CENP-B box sequence, we have demonstrated the abundance of CENP-B boxes on all chromosomes (except the Y) of humans, chimpanzee, pygmy chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan. This sequence motif was not detected in the genomes of other primates, including gibbons, Old and New World monkeys, and prosimians. Our results indicate that the CENP-B box containing subtype of alpha-satellite DNA may have emerged recently in the evolution of the large-bodied hominoids, after divergence of the phylogenetic lines leading to gibbons and apes; the box is thus on the order of 15-25 million years of age. The rapid process of dispersal and fixation of the CENP-B box sequence throughout the human and great ape genomes is thought to be a consequence of concerted evolution of alpha-satellite subsets on both homologous and nonhomologous chromosomes.

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