The ABCs of CENPs

Chromosoma. 2011 Oct;120(5):425-46. doi: 10.1007/s00412-011-0330-0. Epub 2011 Jul 13.


Equal distribution of DNA in mitosis requires the assembly of a large proteinaceous ensemble onto the centromeric DNA, called the kinetochore. With few exceptions, kinetochore specification is independent of the DNA sequence and is determined epigenetically by deposition at the centromeric chromatin of special nucleosomes containing an H3-related histone, CENP-A. Onto centromeric CENP-A chromatin is assembled the so-called constitutive centromere-associated network (CCAN) of 16 proteins distributed in several functional groups as follows: CENP-C, CENP-H/CENP-I/CENP-K/, CENP-L/CENP-M/CENP-N, CENP-O/CENP-P/CENP-Q/CENP-R/CENP-U(50), CENP-T/CENP-W, and CENP-S/CENP-X. One role of the CCAN is to recruit outer kinetochore components further, such as KNL1, the Mis12 complex, and the Ndc80 complex (KMN network) to which attach the spindle microtubules with their structural and regulatory proteins. Among the CENPs in CCAN, CENP-C and CENP-T are required in parallel for operational kinetochore specification and spindle attachment. This review presents discussion of the latest structural and functional data on CENP-A and CENPs from the CCAN as well as their interaction with the KMN network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Centromere / genetics
  • Centromere / metabolism*
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism*
  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Eukaryota / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kinetochores / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone