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Rapidly Evolving Genes and Genetic Systems$
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Rama S. Singh, Jianping Xu, and Rob J. Kulathinal

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199642274

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642274.001.0001

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Rapid evolution of centromeres and centromeric/kinetochore proteins

Rapid evolution of centromeres and centromeric/kinetochore proteins

(p.83) Chapter 9 Rapid evolution of centromeres and centromeric/kinetochore proteins
Rapidly Evolving Genes and Genetic Systems

Kevin C. Roach

Benjamin D. Ross

Harmit S. Malik

Oxford University Press

Centromeres and the kinetochore proteins that bind them are required for chromosome segregation during eukaryotic cell division. Despite this conserved function, both centromeric DNA and kinetochore proteins evolve rapidly. This chapter hypothesizes that this paradox can be explained by an on-going conflict between selfish centromeric DNA elements and the DNA binding proteins of the kinetochore. In this model, centromeres are able to gain an evolutionary advantage by promoting their own transmission during asymmetric female meiosis. Deleterious consequences of this selfish behaviour in turn select for variant kinetochore proteins that can suppress centromeric imbalances. This conflict, termed ‘Centromere Drive’, provides an explanation for observed differences in evolutionary rates between components of the kinetochore, and makes predictions about which taxa might experience accelerated centromeric evolution.

Keywords:   centromeres, rapid evolution, kinetochore, microtubules, female meiosis, meiotic drive, Centromere Drive, eukaryotic cell division

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