Maize centromeres: Organization and functional adaptation in the genetic background of oat

Weiwei Jin, Juliana R. Melo, Kiyotaka Nagaki, Paul B. Talbert, Steven Henikoff, R. Kelly Dawe, Jiming Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Citations (Scopus)


Centromeric DNA sequences in multicellular eukaryotes are often highly repetitive and are not unique to a specific centromere or to centromeres at all. Thus, it is a major challenge to study the fine structure of individual plant centromeres. We used a DNA fiber-fluorescence in situ hybridization approach to study individual maize (Zea mays) centromeres using oat (Avena sativa)-maize chromosome addition lines. The maize centromere-specific satellite repeat CentC in the addition lines allowed us to delineate the size and organization of centromeric DNA of individual maize chromosomes. We demonstrate that the cores of maize centromeres contain mainly CentC arrays and clusters of a centromere-specific rotrotransposon, CRM. CentC and CRM sequences are highly intermingled. The amount of CentC/CRM sequence varies from ∼300 to >2800 kb among different centromeres. The association of CentC and CRM with centromeric histone H3 (CENH3) was visualized by a sequential detection procedure on stretched centromeres. The analysis revealed that CENH3 is always associated with CentC and CRM but that not all CentC or CRM sequences are associated with CENH3. We further demonstrate that in the chromosomal addition lines in which two CenH3 genes were present, one from oat and one from maize, the oat CENH3 was consistently incorporated by the maize centromeres.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-581
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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