The epigenetic regulation of centromeres and telomeres in plants and animals

Comp Cytogenet. 2020 Jul 7;14(2):265-311. doi: 10.3897/CompCytogen.v14i2.51895. eCollection 2020.


The centromere is a chromosomal region where the kinetochore is formed, which is the attachment point of spindle fibers. Thus, it is responsible for the correct chromosome segregation during cell division. Telomeres protect chromosome ends against enzymatic degradation and fusions, and localize chromosomes in the cell nucleus. For this reason, centromeres and telomeres are parts of each linear chromosome that are necessary for their proper functioning. More and more research results show that the identity and functions of these chromosomal regions are epigenetically determined. Telomeres and centromeres are both usually described as highly condensed heterochromatin regions. However, the epigenetic nature of centromeres and telomeres is unique, as epigenetic modifications characteristic of both eu- and heterochromatin have been found in these areas. This specificity allows for the proper functioning of both regions, thereby affecting chromosome homeostasis. This review focuses on demonstrating the role of epigenetic mechanisms in the functioning of centromeres and telomeres in plants and animals.

Keywords: cytosine methylation; histone code; non-coding RNA; pericentromeric; subtelomeric.

Publication types

  • Review