The centromere region of Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosome III has been replaced by various DNA fragments from the centromere regions of yeast chromosomes III and XI. A 289-base pair centromere (CEN3) sequence can stabilize yeast chromosome III through mitosis and meiosis. The orientation of the centromeric fragments within chromosome III has no effect on the normal mitotic or meiotic behavior of the chromosome. The structural integrity of the centromere region in these genomic substitution strains was examined by mapping nucleolytic cleavage sites within the chromatin DNA. A nuclease-protected centromere core of 220-250 base pairs was evident in all of the genomic substitution strains. The position of the protected region is determined strictly by the centromere DNA sequence. These results indicate that the functional centromere core is contained within 220-250 base pairs of the chromatin DNA that is structurally distinct from the flanking nucleosomal chromatin.

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