The ins and outs of CENP-A: Chromatin dynamics of the centromere-specific histone

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Centromeres are highly specialised chromosome domains defined by the presence of an epigenetic mark, the specific histone H3 variant called CENP-A (centromere protein A). They constitute the genomic regions on which kinetochores form and when defective cause segregation defects that can lead to aneuploidy and cancer. Here, we discuss how CENP-A is established and maintained to propagate centromere identity while subjected to dynamic chromatin remodelling during essential cellular processes like DNA repair, replication, and transcription. We highlight parallels and identify conserved mechanisms between different model organism with a particular focus on 1) the establishment of CENP-A at centromeres, 2) CENP-A maintenance during transcription and replication, and 3) the mechanisms that help preventing CENP-A localization at non-centromeric sites. We then give examples of how timely loading of new CENP-A to the centromere, maintenance of old CENP-A during S-phase and transcription, and removal of CENP-A at non-centromeric sites are coordinated and controlled by an intricate network of factors whose identity is slowly being unravelled.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Apr 2022


  • chromosome remodelling
  • centromere
  • epigenetics
  • CENP-A
  • histone variants
  • chromosome segregation


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