Inactivation of a centromere during the formation of a translocation in maize

Chromosome Res. 2011 Aug;19(6):755-61. doi: 10.1007/s10577-011-9240-5. Epub 2011 Sep 27.


Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis of a reciprocal translocation in maize between chromosomes 1 and 5 that has been used extensively in maize genetics revealed the presence of an inactive centromere at or near the breakpoints of the two chromosomes. This centromere contains both the satellite repeat, CentC, and the centromeric retrotransposon family, CRM, that are typical of centromere regions in maize. This site does not exhibit any of the tested biochemical features of active centromeres such as association with CENP-C and phosphorylation of serine-10 on histone H3. The most likely scenario for this chromosome arrangement is that a centromere was included in the repair process that formed the translocation but became inactive and has been inherited in this state for several decades. The documentation of an inactive A chromosome centromere in maize extends the evidence for an epigenetic component to centromere function in plants. This case provides an experimental example of how karyotype evolution might proceed via changes in centromere inactivation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Centromere / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Plant / genetics*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Histones / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Karyotype
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Translocation, Genetic / genetics*
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Histones