Expanded Satellite Repeats Amplify a Discrete CENP-A Nucleosome Assembly Site on Chromosomes That Drive in Female Meiosis

Curr Biol. 2017 Aug 7;27(15):2365-2373.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.069. Epub 2017 Jul 27.


Female meiosis provides an opportunity for selfish genetic elements to violate Mendel's law of segregation by increasing the chance of segregating to the egg [1]. Centromeres and other repetitive sequences can drive in meiosis by cheating the segregation process [2], but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Here, we show that centromeres with more satellite repeats house more nucleosomes that confer centromere identity, containing the histone H3 variant CENP-A, and bias their segregation to the egg relative to centromeres with fewer repeats. CENP-A nucleosomes predominantly occupy a single site within the repeating unit that becomes limiting for centromere assembly on smaller centromeres. We propose that amplified repetitive sequences act as selfish elements by promoting expansion of CENP-A chromatin and increased transmission through the female germline.

Keywords: CENP-A; centromere; chromosome; epigenetics; histone; meiosis; meiotic drive; nucleosome; oocyte; satellite DNA.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Centromere / metabolism*
  • Centromere Protein A / genetics*
  • Centromere Protein A / metabolism
  • Female
  • Meiosis*
  • Mice
  • Microsatellite Repeats*


  • Centromere Protein A