Caister Academic Press

The Epigenetics of Centromere Function

The centromere is a complex chromosomal locus where the kinetochore is formed and microtubules attach during cell division. Centromere specification in eukaryotes largely depends on sequence-independent (epigenetic) mechanisms. In addition to endogenous centromeres in model organisms and humans, studies of atypical centromeres (neocentromeres, artificial chromosomes, dicentric chromosomes, engineered chromosomes) that have contributed to the current molecular understanding of centromere function are important. Also of importance is the behavior and regulation of the centromeric histone variant CENP-A, chromatin modifications, and transcription in centromere establishment and maintenance. Over the past three decades, our view of centromere biology has expanded significantly from the initial characterization of centromere proteins to a more mature understanding of the DNA, RNA, and protein components that constitute this complex chromosomal locus.