Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

The CentO satellite confers translational and rotational phasing on cenH3 nucleosomes in rice centromeres.

PMID 24191062


Plant and animal centromeres comprise megabases of highly repeated satellite sequences, yet centromere function can be specified epigenetically on single-copy DNA by the presence of nucleosomes containing a centromere-specific variant of histone H3 (cenH3). We determined the positions of cenH3 nucleosomes in rice (Oryza sativa), which has centromeres composed of both the 155-bp CentO satellite repeat and single-copy non-CentO sequences. We find that cenH3 nucleosomes protect 90-100 bp of DNA from micrococcal nuclease digestion, sufficient for only a single wrap of DNA around the cenH3 nucleosome core. cenH3 nucleosomes are translationally phased with 155-bp periodicity on CentO repeats, but not on non-CentO sequences. CentO repeats have an ∼10-bp periodicity in WW dinucleotides and in micrococcal nuclease cleavage, providing evidence for rotational phasing of cenH3 nucleosomes on CentO and suggesting that satellites evolve for translational and rotational stabilization of centromeric nucleosomes.