The centromere is the specialized DNA sequence of a chromosome that links a pair of sister chromatids (a dyad). During mitosis, spindle fibers attach to the centromere via the kinetochore. Centromeres were first thought to be genetic loci that direct the behavior of chromosomes.
The physical role of the centromere is to act as the site of assembly of the kinetochores – a highly complex multiprotein structure that is responsible for the actual events of chromosome segregation – i.e. binding microtubules and signalling to the cell cycle machinery when all chromosomes have adopted correct attachments to the spindle, so that it is safe for cell division to proceed to completion and for cells to enter anaphase.There are, broadly speaking, two types of centromeres. “Point centromeres” bind to specific proteins that recognize particular DNA sequences with high efficiency. Any piece of DNA with the point centromere DNA sequence on it will typically form a centromere if present in the appropriate species. The best characterised point centromeres are those of the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. “Regional centromeres” is the term coined to describe most centromeres, which typically form on regions of preferred DNA sequence, but which can form on other DNA sequences as well. The signal for formation of a regional centromere appears to be epigenetic. Most organisms, ranging from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe to humans, have regional centromeres.
Regarding mitotic chromosome structure, centromeres represent a constricted region of the chromosome (often referred to as the primary constriction) where two identical sister chromatids are most closely in contact. When cells enter mitosis, the sister chromatids (the two copies of each chromosomal DNA molecule resulting from DNA replication in chromatin form) are linked along their length by the action of the cohesin complex. It is now believed that this complex is mostly released from chromosome arms during prophase, so that by the time the chromosomes line up at the mid-plane of the mitotic spindle (also known as the metaphase plate), the last place where they are linked with one another is in the chromatin in and around the centromere.
In cell biology, the centrosome (Latin centrum ‘center’ + Greek sōma ‘body’) is an organelle that serves as the main microtubule organizing center (MTOC) of the animal cell as well as a regulator of cell-cycle progression. The centrosome is thought to have evolved only in the metazoan lineage of eukaryotic cells. Fungi and plants lack centrosomes and therefore use structures other than MTOCs to organize their microtubules. Although the centrosome has a key role in efficient mitosis in animal cells, it is not essential in certain fly and flatworm species.Centrosomes are composed of two centrioles arranged at right-angles to each other, and surrounded by an amorphous mass of protein termed the pericentriolar material (PCM). The PCM contains proteins responsible for microtubule nucleation and anchoring including γ-tubulin, pericentrin and ninein. In general, each centriole of the centrosome is based on a nine triplet microtubule assembled in a cartwheel structure, and contains centrin, cenexin and tektin.
In many cell types the centrosome is replaced by a cilium during cellular differentiation. However, once the cell starts to divide, the cilium is replaced again by the centrosome.
The central region of a eukaryotic chromosome where the kinetochore is assembled.
An organelle, near the nucleus in the cytoplasm of most organisms, that controls the organization of its microtubules