Centromeres: unique chromatin structures that drive chromosome segregation

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2011 May;12(5):320-32. doi: 10.1038/nrm3107.


Fidelity during chromosome segregation is essential to prevent aneuploidy. The proteins and chromatin at the centromere form a unique site for kinetochore attachment and allow the cell to sense and correct errors during chromosome segregation. Centromeric chromatin is characterized by distinct chromatin organization, epigenetics, centromere-associated proteins and histone variants. These include the histone H3 variant centromeric protein A (CENPA), the composition and deposition of which have been widely investigated. Studies have examined the structural and biophysical properties of the centromere and have suggested that the centromere is not simply a 'landing pad' for kinetochore formation, but has an essential role in mitosis by assembling and directing the organization of the kinetochore.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Centromere / metabolism*
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Chromosome Segregation*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetochores / metabolism*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Histones