How to build a centromere: From centromeric and pericentromeric chromatin to kinetochore assembly

Larissa J. Vos, Jakub K. Famulski, Gordon K.T. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The assembly of the centromere, a specialized region of DNA along with a constitutive protein complex which resides at the primary constriction and is the site of kinetochore formation, has been puzzling biologists for many years. Recent advances in the fields of chromatin, microscopy, and proteomics have shed a new light on this complex and essential process. Here we review recently discovered mechanisms and proteins involved in determining mammalian centromere location and assembly. The centromeric core protein CENP-A, a histone H3 variant, is hypothesized to designate centromere localization by incorporation into centromere-specific nucleosomes and is essential for the formation of a functional kinetochore. It has been found that centromere localization of centromere protein A (CENP-A), and therefore centromere determination, requires proteins involved in histone deacetylation, as well as base excision DNA repair pathways and proteolysis. In addition to the incorporation of CENP-A at the centromere, the formation of heterochromatin through histone methylation and RNA interference is also crucial for centromere formation. The assembly of the centromere and kinetochore is complex and interdependent, involving epigenetics and hierarchical protein-protein interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-639
Number of pages21
JournalBiochemistry and cell biology = Biochimie et biologie cellulaire
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Centromere
  • Heterochromatin
  • Hierarchiacal assembly
  • Kinetochore
  • Pericentromeric chromatin
  • RNAi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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