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Cell. 1997 Dec 26;91(7):1007-19.

Molecular structure of a functional Drosophila centromere.

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Molecular Biology and Virology Laboratory, The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Centromeres play a critical role in chromosome inheritance but are among the most difficult genomic components to analyze in multicellular eukaryotes. Here, we present a highly detailed molecular structure of a functional centromere in a multicellular organism. The centromere of the Drosophila minichromosome Dp1187 is contained within a 420 kb region of centric heterochromatin. We have used a new approach to characterize the detailed structure of this centromere and found that it is primarily composed of satellites and single, complete transposable elements. In the rest of the Drosophila genome, these satellites and transposable elements are neither unique to the centromeres nor present at all centromeres. We discuss the impact of these results on our understanding of heterochromatin structure and on the determinants of centromere identity and function.

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