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PLOS Genetics  2012 

Factors That Promote H3 Chromatin Integrity during Transcription Prevent Promiscuous Deposition of CENP-ACnp1 in Fission Yeast

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002985

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Specialized chromatin containing CENP-A nucleosomes instead of H3 nucleosomes is found at all centromeres. However, the mechanisms that specify the locations at which CENP-A chromatin is assembled remain elusive in organisms with regional, epigenetically regulated centromeres. It is known that normal centromeric DNA is transcribed in several systems including the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Here, we show that factors which preserve stable histone H3 chromatin during transcription also play a role in preventing promiscuous CENP-ACnp1 deposition in fission yeast. Mutations in the histone chaperone FACT impair the maintenance of H3 chromatin on transcribed regions and promote widespread CENP-ACnp1 incorporation at non-centromeric sites. FACT has little or no effect on CENP-ACnp1 assembly at endogenous centromeres where CENP-ACnp1 is normally assembled. In contrast, Clr6 complex II (Clr6-CII; equivalent to Rpd3S) histone deacetylase function has a more subtle impact on the stability of transcribed H3 chromatin and acts to prevent the ectopic accumulation of CENP-ACnp1 at specific loci, including subtelomeric regions, where CENP-ACnp1 is preferentially assembled. Moreover, defective Clr6-CII function allows the de novo assembly of CENP-ACnp1 chromatin on centromeric DNA, bypassing the normal requirement for heterochromatin. Thus, our analyses show that alterations in the process of chromatin assembly during transcription can destabilize H3 nucleosomes and thereby allow CENP-ACnp1 to assemble in its place. We propose that normal centromeres provide a specific chromatin context that limits reassembly of H3 chromatin during transcription and thereby promotes the establishment of CENP-ACnp1 chromatin and associated kinetochores. These findings have important implications for genetic and epigenetic processes involved in centromere specification.


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