Centromere innovations within a mouse species

Sci Adv. 2023 Nov 17;9(46):eadi5764. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.adi5764. Epub 2023 Nov 15.


Mammalian centromeres direct faithful genetic inheritance and are typically characterized by regions of highly repetitive and rapidly evolving DNA. We focused on a mouse species, Mus pahari, that we found has evolved to house centromere-specifying centromere protein-A (CENP-A) nucleosomes at the nexus of a satellite repeat that we identified and termed π-satellite (π-sat), a small number of recruitment sites for CENP-B, and short stretches of perfect telomere repeats. One M. pahari chromosome, however, houses a radically divergent centromere harboring ~6 mega-base pairs of a homogenized π-sat-related repeat, π-satB, that contains >20,000 functional CENP-B boxes. There, CENP-B abundance promotes accumulation of microtubule-binding components of the kinetochore and a microtubule-destabilizing kinesin of the inner centromere. We propose that the balance of pro- and anti-microtubule binding by the new centromere is what permits it to segregate during cell division with high fidelity alongside the older ones whose sequence creates a markedly different molecular composition.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantigens*
  • Centromere / genetics
  • Centromere / metabolism
  • Centromere Protein A / genetics
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone* / genetics
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone* / metabolism
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Mice
  • Nucleosomes


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Autoantigens
  • Centromere Protein A
  • Nucleosomes