Centromeres, CENP-B and Tigger too

Trends Genet. 1997 Apr;13(4):141-5. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(97)01098-6.


The highly conserved centromere-associated protein CENP-B is a common feature of mammalian centromeres. Binding sites for CENP-B, so-called 'CENP-B boxes', are present in the otherwise unrelated centromeric satellite DNAs of humans, Mus musculus, Mus caroli, ferrets, giant pandas, tree shrews and gerbils, suggesting a role for CENP-B in centromere function. However, CENP-B and its binding sites are not detected at the centromeres of mammalian Y chromosomes and few, if any, binding sites seem present on African green monkey chromosomes. There is extensive sequence similarity between CENP-B and transposase proteins encoded by the pogo superfamily of transposable elements, which includes the human Tigger elements. Intriguingly, Tigger 2 has an almost perfect match to the CENP-B-binding site within its terminal inverted repeat. Comparison of the amino acid sequence of CENP-B with related proteins raises the possibility that CENP-B might share the ability to cause single-stranded DNA breaks. Such nicks could promote recombination, as has been suggested for the Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease duplication where a recombination hotspot exists close to a mariner-like element. We suggest that by promoting nicks adjacent to CENP-B boxes, CENP-B might facilitate the evolution and maintenance of satellite sequence arrays, rather than have a direct role in centromere function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Autoantigens*
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Centromere / genetics*
  • Centromere Protein B
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics*
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Transposases
  • Y Chromosome / genetics


  • Autoantigens
  • CENPB protein, human
  • Cenpb protein, mouse
  • Centromere Protein B
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • Transposases

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U35655
  • GENBANK/U49973
  • GENBANK/X59440
  • SWISSPROT/P07199