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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Composition and organization of active centromere sequences in complex genomes

Karen E Hayden12* and Huntington F Willard1

Author Affiliations

1 Genome Biology Group, Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

2 Present address: Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering, University of California, 501 Engineering 2 Building, Mailstop CBSE/ITI, UC Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA, 95064, USA

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BMC Genomics 2012, 13:324  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-324

Published: 20 July 2012



Centromeres are sites of chromosomal spindle attachment during mitosis and meiosis. While the sequence basis for centromere identity remains a subject of considerable debate, one approach is to examine the genomic organization at these active sites that are correlated with epigenetic marks of centromere function.


We have developed an approach to characterize both satellite and non-satellite centromeric sequences that are missing from current assemblies in complex genomes, using the dog genome as an example. Combining this genomic reference with an epigenetic dataset corresponding to sequences associated with the histone H3 variant centromere protein A (CENP-A), we identify active satellite sequence domains that appear to be both functionally and spatially distinct within the overall definition of satellite families.


These findings establish a genomic and epigenetic foundation for exploring the functional role of centromeric sequences in the previously sequenced dog genome and provide a model for similar studies within the context of less-characterized genomes.

Centromere; Satellite DNAs; CENP-A; Centromere protein A; Canis familiaris (dog)