The centromere-drive hypothesis: a simple basis for centromere complexity

Prog Mol Subcell Biol. 2009;48:33-52. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-00182-6_2.


Centromeres are far more complex and evolutionarily labile than expected based on their conserved, essential function. The rapid evolution of both centromeric DNA and proteins strongly argue that centromeres are locked in an evolutionary conflict to increase their odds of transmission during asymmetric (female) meiosis. Evolutionary success for "cheating" centromeres can result in highly deleterious consequences for the species, either in terms of skewed sex ratios or male sterility. Centromeric proteins evolve rapidly to suppress the deleterious effects of "centromere-drive." This chapter summarizes the mounting evidence in favor of the centromere-drive model, and its implications for centromere evolution in taxa with variations in meiosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Centromere / genetics
  • Centromere / metabolism*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Histones / classification
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meiosis / physiology
  • Phylogeny


  • Histones