Centromere

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A centromere is a region of DNA typically found near the middle of a chromosome where two identical sister chromatids come closest in contact. It is involved in cell division as the point of mitotic spindle attachment. The sister chromatids are attached all along their length, but they are closest at the centromere.[1]

Contents

Function

The centromeres are, together with telomeres and origins of replication, one of the essential parts of any eukaryotic chromosome. The centromere usually contains specific types of DNA sequences which are in higher eukaryotes typically tandem repetitive sequences, often called "satellite DNA". These sequences bind specific proteins called "cen"-Proteins. During mitosis the centromeres can be identified in particular during the metaphase stage as a constriction at the chromosome. At this centromeric constriction the two mostly identical halves of the chromosome, the sister chromatids, are held together until late metaphase. During mitotic division, a transient structure called kinetochore is formed on top of the centromeres. The kinetochores are the sites where the spindle fibers attach. Kinetochores and the spindle apparatus are responsible for the movement of the two sister chromatids to opposite poles of dividing cell nucleus during anaphase. Usually the mitosis is immediately followed by a cell division cytokinesis. However, mitosis and cytokinesis are separate processes and can be uncoupled.

A centromere functions in sister chromatid adhesion, kinetochore formation, and pairing of homologous chromosomes during meiosis, prophase and metaphase. The centromere is also where kinetochore formation takes place: proteins bind on the centromeres that form an anchor point for the spindle formation required for the pull of chromatids toward the spindle poles during anaphase and telophase of mitosis.

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