Complete genomic and epigenetic maps of human centromeres

Science. 2022 Apr;376(6588):eabl4178. doi: 10.1126/science.abl4178. Epub 2022 Apr 1.


Existing human genome assemblies have almost entirely excluded repetitive sequences within and near centromeres, limiting our understanding of their organization, evolution, and functions, which include facilitating proper chromosome segregation. Now, a complete, telomere-to-telomere human genome assembly (T2T-CHM13) has enabled us to comprehensively characterize pericentromeric and centromeric repeats, which constitute 6.2% of the genome (189.9 megabases). Detailed maps of these regions revealed multimegabase structural rearrangements, including in active centromeric repeat arrays. Analysis of centromere-associated sequences uncovered a strong relationship between the position of the centromere and the evolution of the surrounding DNA through layered repeat expansions. Furthermore, comparisons of chromosome X centromeres across a diverse panel of individuals illuminated high degrees of structural, epigenetic, and sequence variation in these complex and rapidly evolving regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Centromere / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genome, Human*
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid

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