April 21, 2020  |  

CENP-C stabilizes the conformation of CENP-A nucleosomes within the inner kinetochore at human centromere

The centromere is a vital locus on each chromosome which seeds the kinetochore, allowing for a physical connection between the chromosome and the mitotic spindle. At the heart of the centromere is the centromere-specific histone H3 variant CENP-A/CENH3. Throughout the cell cycle the constitutive centromere associated network is bound to CENP-A chromatin, but how this protein network modifies CENP-A nucleosome dynamics in vivo is unknown. Here, using a combination of biophysical and biochemical analyses we provide evidence for the existence of two populations of structurally distinct CENP-A nucleosomes that co-exist at human centromeres. These two populations display unique sedimentation patterns, which permits purification of inner kinetochore bound CENP-A chromatin away from bulk CENP-A nucleosomes. The bulk population of CENP-A nucleosomes have diminished heights and weakened DNA interactions, whereas CENP-A nucleosomes robustly associated with the inner kinetochore are stabilized in an octameric conformation, with restricted access to nucleosomal DNA. Immuno-labeling coupled to atomic force microscopy of these complexes confirms their identity at the nanoscale resolution. These data provide a systematic and detailed description of inner-kinetochore bound CENP-A chromatin from human centromeres, with implications for the state of CENP-A chromatin that is actively engaged during mitosis.


April 21, 2020  |  

Centromere-mediated chromosome break drives karyotype evolution in closely related Malassezia species

Intra-chromosomal or inter-chromosomal genomic rearrangements often lead to speciation. Loss or gain of a centromere leads to alterations in chromosome number in closely related species. Thus, centromeres can enable tracing the path of evolution from the ancestral to a derived state. The Malassezia species complex of the phylum Basiodiomycota shows remarkable diversity in chromosome number ranging between six and nine chromosomes. To understand these transitions, we experimentally identified all eight centromeres as binding sites of an evolutionarily conserved outer kinetochore protein Mis12/Mtw1 in M. sympodialis. The 3 to 5 kb centromere regions share an AT-rich, poorly transcribed core region enriched with a 12 bp consensus motif. We also mapped nine such AT-rich centromeres in M. globosa and the related species Malassezia restricta and Malassezia slooffiae. While eight predicted centromeres were found within conserved synteny blocks between these species and M. sympodialis, the remaining centromere in M. globosa (MgCEN2) or its orthologous centromere in M. slooffiae (MslCEN4) and M. restricta (MreCEN8) mapped to a synteny breakpoint compared with M. sympodialis. Taken together, we provide evidence that breakage and loss of a centromere (CEN2) in an ancestral Malassezia species possessing nine chromosomes resulted in fewer chromosomes in M. sympodialis. Strikingly, the predicted centromeres of all closely related Malassezia species map to an AT-rich core on each chromosome that also shows enrichment of the 12 bp sequence motif. We propose that centromeres are fragile AT-rich sites driving karyotype diversity through breakage and inactivation in these and other species.


April 21, 2020  |  

High satellite repeat turnover in great apes studied with short- and long-read technologies.

Satellite repeats are a structural component of centromeres and telomeres, and in some instances their divergence is known to drive speciation. Due to their highly repetitive nature, satellite sequences have been understudied and underrepresented in genome assemblies. To investigate their turnover in great apes, we studied satellite repeats of unit sizes up to 50?bp in human, chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, and Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, using unassembled short and long sequencing reads. The density of satellite repeats, as identified from accurate short reads (Illumina), varied greatly among great ape genomes. These were dominated by a handful of abundant repeated motifs, frequently shared among species, which formed two groups: (1) the (AATGG)n repeat (critical for heat shock response) and its derivatives; and (2) subtelomeric 32-mers involved in telomeric metabolism. Using the densities of abundant repeats, individuals could be classified into species. However clustering did not reproduce the accepted species phylogeny, suggesting rapid repeat evolution. Several abundant repeats were enriched in males vs. females; using Y chromosome assemblies or FIuorescent In Situ Hybridization, we validated their location on the Y. Finally, applying a novel computational tool, we identified many satellite repeats completely embedded within long Oxford Nanopore and Pacific Biosciences reads. Such repeats were up to 59?kb in length and consisted of perfect repeats interspersed with other similar sequences. Our results based on sequencing reads generated with three different technologies provide the first detailed characterization of great ape satellite repeats, and open new avenues for exploring their functions. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Cellular Dynamics and Genomic Identity of Centromeres in Cereal Blast Fungus.

Precise kinetochore-microtubule interactions ensure faithful chromosome segregation in eukaryotes. Centromeres, identified as scaffolding sites for kinetochore assembly, are among the most rapidly evolving chromosomal loci in terms of the DNA sequence and length and organization of intrinsic elements. Neither the centromere structure nor the kinetochore dynamics is well studied in plant-pathogenic fungi. Here, we sought to understand the process of chromosome segregation in the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae High-resolution imaging of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged inner kinetochore proteins CenpA and CenpC revealed unusual albeit transient declustering of centromeres just before anaphase separation of chromosomes in M. oryzae Strikingly, the declustered centromeres positioned randomly at the spindle midzone without an apparent metaphase plate per se Using CenpA chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by deep sequencing, all seven centromeres in M. oryzae were found to be regional, spanning 57-kb to 109-kb transcriptionally poor regions. Highly AT-rich and heavily methylated DNA sequences were the only common defining features of all the centromeres in rice blast. Lack of centromere-specific DNA sequence motifs or repetitive elements suggests an epigenetic specification of centromere function in M. oryzae PacBio genome assemblies and synteny analyses facilitated comparison of the centromeric/pericentromeric regions in distinct isolates of rice blast and wheat blast and in Magnaporthiopsis poae Overall, this study revealed unusual centromere dynamics and precisely identified the centromere loci in the top model fungal pathogens that belong to Magnaporthales and cause severe losses in the global production of food crops and turf grasses.IMPORTANCEMagnaporthe oryzae is an important fungal pathogen that causes a loss of 10% to 30% of the annual rice crop due to the devastating blast disease. In most organisms, kinetochores are clustered together or arranged at the metaphase plate to facilitate synchronized anaphase separation of sister chromatids in mitosis. In this study, we showed that the initially clustered kinetochores separate and position randomly prior to anaphase in M. oryzae Centromeres in M. oryzae occupy large genomic regions and form on AT-rich DNA without any common sequence motifs. Overall, this study identified atypical kinetochore dynamics and mapped functional centromeres in M. oryzae to define the roles of centromeric and pericentric boundaries in kinetochore assembly on epigenetically specified centromere loci. This study should pave the way for further understanding of the contribution of heterochromatin in genome stability and virulence of the blast fungus and its related species of high economic importance.Copyright © 2019 Yadav et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Modern View of B Chromosomes Under the Impact of High Scale Omics Analyses.

Supernumerary B chromosomes (Bs) are extra karyotype units in addition to A chromosomes, and are found in some fungi and thousands of animals and plant species. Bs are uniquely characterized due to their non-Mendelian inheritance, and represent one of the best examples of genomic conflict. Over the last decades, their genetic composition, function and evolution have remained an unresolved query, although a few successful attempts have been made to address these phenomena. A classical concept based on cytogenetics and genetics is that Bs are selfish and abundant with DNA repeats and transposons, and in most cases, they do not carry any function. However, recently, the modern quantum development of high scale multi-omics techniques has shifted B research towards a new-born field that we call “B-omics”. We review the recent literature and add novel perspectives to the B research, discussing the role of new technologies to understand the mechanistic perspectives of the molecular evolution and function of Bs. The modern view states that B chromosomes are enriched with genes for many significant biological functions, including but not limited to the interesting set of genes related to cell cycle and chromosome structure. Furthermore, the presence of B chromosomes could favor genomic rearrangements and influence the nuclear environment affecting the function of other chromatin regions. We hypothesize that B chromosomes might play a key function in driving their transmission and maintenance inside the cell, as well as offer an extra genomic compartment for evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Interspecies conservation of organisation and function between nonhomologous regional centromeres.

Despite the conserved essential function of centromeres, centromeric DNA itself is not conserved. The histone-H3 variant, CENP-A, is the epigenetic mark that specifies centromere identity. Paradoxically, CENP-A normally assembles on particular sequences at specific genomic locations. To gain insight into the specification of complex centromeres, here we take an evolutionary approach, fully assembling genomes and centromeres of related fission yeasts. Centromere domain organization, but not sequence, is conserved between Schizosaccharomyces pombe, S. octosporus and S. cryophilus with a central CENP-ACnp1 domain flanked by heterochromatic outer-repeat regions. Conserved syntenic clusters of tRNA genes and 5S rRNA genes occur across the centromeres of S. octosporus and S. cryophilus, suggesting conserved function. Interestingly, nonhomologous centromere central-core sequences from S. octosporus and S. cryophilus are recognized in S. pombe, resulting in cross-species establishment of CENP-ACnp1 chromatin and functional kinetochores. Therefore, despite the lack of sequence conservation, Schizosaccharomyces centromere DNA possesses intrinsic conserved properties that promote assembly of CENP-A chromatin.


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