Chromosome segregation during cell division is driven by mitotic spindle attachment to the centromere region on each chromosome. Centromeres form a protein scaffold defined by chromatin featuring CENP-A, a conserved histone H3 variant, in a manner largely independent of local DNA cis elements. CENP-A nucleosomes fulfill two essential criteria to epigenetically identify the centromere. They undergo self-templated duplication to reestablish centromeric chromatin following DNA replication. More importantly, CENP-A incorporated into centromeric chromatin is stably transmitted through consecutive cell division cycles. CENP-A nucleosomes have unique structural properties and binding partners that potentially explain their long lifetime in vivo. However, rather than a static building block, centromeric chromatin is dynamically regulated throughout the cell cycle, indicating that CENP-A stability is also controlled by external factors. We discuss recent insights and identify the outstanding questions on how dynamic control of the long-term stability of CENP-A ensures epigenetic centromere inheritance.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at
You do not currently have access to this content.