The Sequence Dependent Nanoscale Structure of CENP-A Nucleosomes

Tommy Stormberg, Yuri L. Lyubchenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CENP-A is a histone variant found in high abundance at the centromere in humans. At the centromere, this histone variant replaces the histone H3 found throughout the bulk chromatin. Additionally, the centromere comprises tandem repeats of α-satellite DNA, which CENP-A nucleosomes assemble upon. However, the effect of the DNA sequence on the nucleosome assembly and centromere formation remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated the structure of nucleosomes assembled with the CENP-A variant using Atomic Force Microscopy. We assembled both CENP-A nucleosomes and H3 nucleosomes on a DNA substrate containing an α-satellite motif and characterized their positioning and wrapping efficiency. We also studied CENP-A nucleosomes on the 601-positioning motif and non-specific DNA to compare their relative positioning and stability. CENP-A nucleosomes assembled on α-satellite DNA did not show any positional preference along the substrate, which is similar to both H3 nucleosomes and CENP-A nucleosomes on non-specific DNA. The range of nucleosome wrapping efficiency was narrower on α-satellite DNA compared with non-specific DNA, suggesting a more stable complex. These findings indicate that DNA sequence and histone composition may be two of many factors required for accurate centromere assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11385
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • CENP-A nucleosomes
  • alpha satellite DNA
  • atomic force microscopy
  • centromere chromatin
  • nanoscale structure of nucleosomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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