Recent insights into mechanisms preventing ectopic centromere formation

Qianhua Dong, Jinpu Yang, Jinxin Gao, Fei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The centromere is a specialized chromosomal structure essential for chromosome segregation. Centromere dysfunction leads to chromosome segregation errors and genome instability. In most eukaryotes, centromere identity is specified epigenetically by CENP-A, a centromere-specific histone H3 variant. CENP-A replaces histone H3 in centromeres, and nucleates the assembly of the kinetochore complex. Mislocalization of CENP-A to non-centromeric regions causes ectopic assembly of CENP-A chromatin, which has a devastating impact on chromosome segregation and has been linked to a variety of human cancers. How non-centromeric regions are protected from CENP-A misincorporation in normal cells is largely unexplored. Here, we review the most recent advances on the mechanisms underlying the prevention of ectopic centromere formation, and discuss the implications in human disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number210189
JournalOpen Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 8 2021


  • CENP-A
  • chromosomes segregation
  • ectopic centromeres
  • epigenetics
  • kinetochore
  • neocentromere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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