Centromere function in asymmetric cell division in Drosophila female and male germline stem cells

A. M. Kochendoerfer, F. Modafferi and E. M. Dunleavy,  Open Biology,  11:210107. 2021.

The centromere is the constricted chromosomal region required for the correct separation of the genetic material at cell division. The kinetochore protein complex assembles at the centromere and captures microtubules emanating from the centrosome to orchestrate chromosome segregation in mitosis and meiosis. Asymmetric cell division (ACD) is a special type of mitosis that generates two daughter cells with different fates. Epigenetic mechanisms operating at the centromere have been proposed to contribute to ACD. Recent studies have shown that an asymmetric distribution of CENP-A—the centromere-specific histone H3 variant—between sister chromatids can bias chromosome segregation in ACD. In stem cells, this leads to non-random sister chromatid segregation, which can affect cell fate. These findings support the ‘silent sister’ hypothesis, according to which the mechanisms of ACD are epigenetically regulated through centromeres. Here, we review the recent data implicating centromeres in ACDs and cell fate in Drosophila melanogaster female and male germline stem cells.

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