Distinct kinesin motors drive two types of maize neocentromeres

Genes Dev. 2020 Sep 1;34(17-18):1239-1251. doi: 10.1101/gad.340679.120. Epub 2020 Aug 20.


A maize chromosome variant called abnormal chromosome 10 (Ab10) converts knobs on chromosome arms into neocentromeres, causing their preferential segregation to egg cells in a process known as meiotic drive. We previously demonstrated that the gene Kinesin driver (Kindr) on Ab10 encodes a kinesin-14 required to mobilize neocentromeres made up of the major tandem repeat knob180. Here we describe a second kinesin-14 gene, TR-1 kinesin (Trkin), that is required to mobilize neocentromeres made up of the minor tandem repeat TR-1. Trkin lies in a 4-Mb region of Ab10 that is not syntenic with any other region of the maize genome and shows extraordinary sequence divergence from Kindr and other kinesins in plants. Despite its unusual structure, Trkin encodes a functional minus end-directed kinesin that specifically colocalizes with TR-1 in meiosis, forming long drawn out neocentromeres. TRKIN contains a nuclear localization signal and localizes to knobs earlier in prophase than KINDR. The fact that TR-1 repeats often co-occur with knob180 repeats suggests that the current role of the TRKIN/TR-1 system is to facilitate the meiotic drive of the KINDR/knob180 system.

Keywords: anaphase; chromosome segregation; heterochromatin; kinesin-14; knob; meiosis; meiotic drive; neocentromere; tandem repeat.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Centromere / genetics*
  • Centromere / metabolism*
  • Chromosomes, Plant / genetics
  • Genes, Plant / genetics
  • Kinesin / genetics*
  • Kinesin / metabolism*
  • Meiosis
  • Models, Genetic
  • Protein Transport / genetics
  • Zea mays / genetics*
  • Zea mays / metabolism*


  • Kinesin