Since discovery of the centromere-specific histone H3 variant CENP-A, centromeres have come to be defined as chromatin structures that establish the assembly site for the complex kinetochore machinery. In most organisms, centromere activity is defined epigenetically, rather than by specific DNA sequences. In this review, we describe selected classic work and recent progress in studies of centromeric chromatin with a focus on vertebrates. We consider possible roles for repetitive DNA sequences found at most centromeres, chromatin factors and modifications that assemble and activate CENP-A chromatin for kinetochore assembly, plus the use of artificial chromosomes and kinetochores to study centromere function.
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.