Retention of latent centromeres in the mammalian genome

G. C. Ferreri, D. M. Liscinsky, J. A. Mack, M. D B Eldridge, R. J. O'Neill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The centromere is a cytologically defined entity that possesses a conserved and restricted function in the cell: it is the site of kinetochore assembly and spindle attachment. Despite its conserved function, the centromere is a highly mutable portion of the chromosome, carrying little sequence conservation across taxa. This divergence has made studying the movement of a centromere, either within a single karyotype or between species, a challenging endeavor. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the permutability of centromere location within a chromosome. This permutability is termed "centromere repositioning" when described in an evolutionary context and "neocentromerization" when abnormalities within an individual karyotype are considered. Both are characterized by a shift in location of the functional centromere within a chromosome without a concomitant change in linear gene order. Evolutionary studies across lineages clearly indicate that centromere repositioning is not a rare event in karyotypic evolution and must be considered when examining the evolution of chromosome structure and syntenic order. This paper examines the theories proposed to explain centromere repositioning in mammals. These theories are interpreted in light of evidence gained in human studies and in our presented data from the marsupial model species Macropus eugenii, the tammar wallaby.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-224
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


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