Cell cycle-regulated transcription of CENP-A by the MBF complex ensures optimal level of CENP-A for centromere formation

David Aristizabal-Corrales, Jinpu Yang, Fei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The centromere plays an essential role in chromosome segregation. In most eukaryotes, centromeres are epigenetically defined by the conserved histone H3 variant CENP-A. Proper centromere assembly is dependent upon the tight regulation of CENP-A level. Cell cycle regulation of CENP-A transcription appears to be a universal feature across eukaryotes, but the molecular mechanism underlying the temporal control of CENP-A transcription and how such regulation contributes to centromere function remains elusive. CENP-A in fission yeast has been shown to be transcribed before S phase. Using various synchronization methods, we confirmed that CENP-A transcription occurs at G1, leading to an almost twofold increase of the protein during S phase. Through a genetic screen, we identified the MBF (MluI box-binding factors) complex as a key regulator of temporal control of CENP-A transcription. The periodic transcription of CENP-A is lost in MBF mutants, resulting in CENP-A mislocalization and chromosome segregation defects. We identified the MCB (MluI cell cycle box) motif in the CENP-A promoter, and further showed that the MBF complex binds to the motif to restrict CENP-A transcription to G1. Mutations of the MCB motif cause constitutive CENP-A expression and deleterious effects on cell survival. Using promoters driving transcription to different cell cycle stages, we found that timing of CENP-A transcription is dispensable for its centromeric localization. Our data instead indicate that cell cycle-regulated CENP-A transcription is a key step to ensure that a proper amount of CENP-A is generated across generations. This study provides mechanistic insights into the regulation of cell cycledependent CENP-A transcription, as well as its importance on centromere function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-875
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • CENP-A
  • Cell cycle transcriptional control
  • Centromere
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe
  • The MBF complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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