Dicentric chromosome formation and epigenetics of centromere formation in plants

J Genet Genomics. 2012 Mar 20;39(3):125-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jgg.2012.01.006. Epub 2012 Feb 14.


Plant centromeres are generally composed of tandem arrays of simple repeats that form a complex chromosome locus where the kinetochore forms and microtubules attach during mitosis and meiosis. Each chromosome has one centromere region, which is essential for accurate division of the genetic material. Recently, chromosomes containing two centromere regions (called dicentric chromosomes) have been found in maize and wheat. Interestingly, some dicentric chromosomes are stable because only one centromere is active and the other one is inactivated. Because such arrays maintain their typical structure for both active and inactive centromeres, the specification of centromere activity has an epigenetic component independent of the DNA sequence. Under some circumstances, the inactive centromeres may recover centromere function, which is called centromere reactivation. Recent studies have highlighted the important changes, such as DNA methylation and histone modification, that occur during centromere inactivation and reactivation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Centromere / genetics*
  • Centromere / metabolism
  • Chromosomes, Plant / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Plant / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Kinetochores / metabolism
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Models, Genetic
  • Triticum / genetics*
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Histones