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Holokinetic centromeres and efficient telomere healing enable rapid karyotype evolution.

Authors: Maja M. Jankowska, Jörg J. Fuchs, Evelyn E. Klocke, Miloslava M. Fojtová, Pavla P. Polanská, Jiří J. Fajkus, Veit V. Schubert, Andreas A. Houben
Published: 06/11/2015, Chromosoma


Species with holocentric chromosomes are often characterized by a rapid karyotype evolution. In contrast to species with monocentric chromosomes where acentric fragments are lost during cell division, breakage of holocentric chromosomes creates fragments with normal centromere activity. To decipher the mechanism that allows holocentric species an accelerated karyotype evolution via chromosome breakage, we analyzed the chromosome complements of irradiated Luzula elegans plants. The resulting chromosomal fragments and rearranged chromosomes revealed holocentromere-typical CENH3 and histone H2AThr120ph signals as well as the same mitotic mobility like unfragmented chromosomes. Newly synthesized telomeres at break points become detectable 3 weeks after irradiation. The presence of active telomerase suggests a telomerase-based mechanism of chromosome healing. A successful transmission of holocentric chromosome fragments across different generations was found for most offspring of irradiated plants. Hence, a combination of holokinetic centromere activity and the fast formation of new telomeres at break points enables holocentric species a rapid karyotype evolution involving chromosome fissions and rearrangements.

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