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Evolution of centromeres and chromosome segregation

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In our lab we are integrating tools in molecular and evolutionary biology, genomics and biochemistry to study the evolution of chromatin and genome architecture.

Our current research focuses on centromeres – specialized chromosomal regions, which enable the assembly of the kinetochore protein complex and the attachment of spindle microtubules to ensure the faithful segregation of sister chromatids during cell division. Paradoxically to this essential function it is surprising that different strategies of centromere organization have evolved. While most eukaryotes have monocentric chromosomes where spindle attachment is restricted to a single chromosomal region resembling such classic X-shape like structures under the microscope, many lineages have evolved holocentric chromosomes where spindle microtubules attach along the entire length of the chromosome. Though holocentromeres have been known since more than 70 years the evolutionary transition from monocentromeres to holocentromeres has remained enigmatic ever since.

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