Eukaryotic centromeres are defined by the presence of nucleosomes containing the histone H3 variant, centromere protein A (CENP-A). Once incorporated at centromeres, CENP-A nucleosomes are remarkably stable, exhibiting no detectable loss or exchange over many cell cycles. It is currently unclear whether this stability is an intrinsic property of CENP-A containing chromatin or whether it arises from proteins that specifically associate with CENP-A chromatin. Two proteins, CENP-C and CENP-N, are known to bind CENP-A human nucleosomes directly. Here we test the hypothesis that CENP-C or CENP-N stabilize CENP-A nucleosomes in vitro and in living cells. We show that CENP-N stabilizes CENP-A nucleosomes alone and additively with CENP-C in vitro. However, removal of CENP-C and CENP-N from cells, or mutating CENP-A so that it no longer interacts with CENP-C or CENP-N, had no effect on centromeric CENP-A stability in vivo. Thus, the stability of CENP-A nucleosomes in chromatin does not arise solely from its interactions with CENP-C or CENP-N.
© 2018 Cao, Zhou, et al. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). Two months after publication it is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0).