Centromere Dynamics and Chromosome Evolution in Marsupials

O'Neill, R. J.; Eldridge, M. D. B.; Mietcalfe, C. J.; Holsinger, Kent E.
September 2004
Journal of Heredity;Sep/Oct2004, Vol. 95 Issue 5, p375
Academic Journal
The eukaryotic centromere poses an interesting evolutionary paradox: it is a chromatin entity indispensable to precise chromosome segregation in all eukaryotes, yet the DNA at the heart of the centromere is remarkably variable. Its important role of spindle attachment to the kinetochore during meiosis and mitosis notwithstanding, recent studies implicate the centromere as an active player in chromosome evolution and the divergence of species. This is exemplified by centromeric involvement in translocations, fusions, inversions, and centric shifts. Often species are defined karyotypically simply by the position of the centromere on certain chromosomes. Little is known about how the centromere, either as a functioning unit of chromatin or as a specific block of repetitive DNA sequences, acts in the creation of these types of chromosome rearrangements in an evolutionary context. Macropodine marsupials (kangaroos and wallabies) offer unique insights into current theories expositing centromere emergence during karyotypic diversification and speciation.


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