Chromosome Research

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 465-479

First online:

The CENP-A nucleosome: a dynamic structure and role at the centromere

  • Delphine QuénetAffiliated withLaboratory of Receptor Biology & Gene Expression–NCI–NIH
  • , Yamini DalalAffiliated withLaboratory of Receptor Biology & Gene Expression–NCI–NIH Email author 


The centromere is a specialized locus that directs the formation of the kinetochore protein complex for correct chromosome segregation. The specific centromere histone H3 variant CENP-A has been described as the epigenetic mark of this chromatin region. Several laboratories have explored its properties, its partners, and its role in centromere formation. Specifically, two types of CENP-A nucleosomes have been described, suggesting there may be more complexity involved in centromere structure than previously thought. Recent work adds to this paradox by questioning the role of CENP-A as a unique centromeric mark and highlighting the assembly of a functional kinetochore in the absence of CENP-A. In this review, we discuss recent literature on the CENP-A nucleosomes and the debate on its role in kinetochore formation and centromere identity.


CENP-A nucleosome structure chromatin dynamic HJURP