Cycles of satellite and transposon evolution in Arabidopsis centromeres - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Nature Year : 2023

Cycles of satellite and transposon evolution in Arabidopsis centromeres

Matthew Naish
Elias Primetis
Alison Scott
  • Function : Author
Nicola Gorringe
Christie Patel
  • Function : Author
Magnus Nordborg
Ian Henderson


Centromeres are critical for cell division, loading CENH3 or CENPA histone variant nucleosomes, directing kinetochore formation and allowing chromosome segregation(1,2). Despite their conserved function, centromere size and structure are diverse across species. To understand this centromere paradox(3,4), it is necessary to know how centromeric diversity is generated and whether it reflects ancient trans-species variation or, instead, rapid post-speciation divergence. To address these questions, we assembled 346 centromeres from 66 Arabidopsis thaliana and 2 Arabidopsis lyrata accessions, which exhibited a remarkable degree of intra- and inter-species diversity. A. thaliana centromere repeat arrays are embedded in linkage blocks, despite ongoing internal satellite turnover, consistent with roles for unidirectional gene conversion or unequal crossover between sister chromatids in sequence diversification. Additionally, centrophilic ATHILA transposons have recently invaded the satellite arrays. To counter ATHILA invasion, chromosome-specific bursts of satellite homogenization generate higher-order repeats and purge transposons, in line with cycles of repeat evolution. Centromeric sequence changes are even more extreme in comparison between A. thaliana and A. lyrata. Together, our findings identify rapid cycles of transposon invasion and purging through satellite homogenization, which drive centromere evolution and ultimately contribute to speciation.

Dates and versions

hal-04155046 , version 1 (07-07-2023)



Piotr Wlodzimierz, Fernando Rabanal, Robin Burns, Matthew Naish, Elias Primetis, et al.. Cycles of satellite and transposon evolution in Arabidopsis centromeres. Nature, 2023, 618 (7965), pp.557-565. ⟨10.1038/s41586-023-06062-z⟩. ⟨hal-04155046⟩
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