Sowing the Seeds of Centromeres

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Science  20 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6066, pp. 299-300
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218162

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The centromere is a chromatin-based platform that accumulates microtubule-binding proteins that drive chromosome segregation during cell division. Despite their size (on the order of megabases of DNA in mammals) and conserved role, centromeres have the remarkable capacity to leave their usual comfort zone and to reform at a new chromosomal site (1). Although found rarely, these so-called neocentromeres are by most measures bona fide and segregate chromosomes with high fidelity. What accounts for this nomadic behavior?