Indexed on: 22 Aug '01Published on: 22 Aug '01Published in: The Journal of cell biology
Centromeric chromatin is uniquely marked by the centromere-specific histone CENP-A. For assembly of CENP-A into nucleosomes to occur without competition from H3 deposition, it was proposed that centromeres are among the first or last sequences to be replicated. In this study, centromere replication in Drosophila was studied in cell lines and in larval tissues that contain minichromosomes that have structurally defined centromeres. Two different nucleotide incorporation methods were used to evaluate replication timing of chromatin containing CID, a Drosophila homologue of CENP-A. Centromeres in Drosophila cell lines were replicated throughout S phase but primarily in mid S phase. However, endogenous centromeres and X-derived minichromosome centromeres in vivo were replicated asynchronously in mid to late S phase. Minichromosomes with structurally intact centromeres were replicated in late S phase, and those in which centric and surrounding heterochromatin were partially or fully deleted were replicated earlier in mid S phase. We provide the first in vivo evidence that centromeric chromatin is replicated at different times in S phase. These studies indicate that incorporation of CID/CENP-A into newly duplicated centromeres is independent of replication timing and argue against determination of centromere identity by temporal sequestration of centromeric chromatin replication relative to bulk genomic chromatin.