Huan Ma, Wentao Ding, Yiqian Chen, Jingwei Zhou, Wei Chen, Caixia Lan, Hailiang Mao, Qiang Li, Wenhao Yan, Handong Su
Molecular Biology and Evolution, Volume 40, Issue 8, August 2023, msad176, https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msad176
Published: 04 August 2023
Centromeres (CEN) are the chromosomal regions that play a crucial role in maintaining genomic stability. The underlying highly repetitive DNA sequences can evolve quickly in most eukaryotes, and promote karyotype evolution. Despite their variability, it is not fully understood how these widely variable sequences ensure the homeostasis of centromere function. In this study, we investigated the genetics and epigenetics of CEN in a population of wheat lines from global breeding programs. We captured a high degree of sequences, positioning, and epigenetic variations in the large and complex wheat CEN. We found that most CENH3-associated repeats are Cereba element of retrotransposons and exhibit phylogenetic homogenization across different wheat lines, but the less-associated repeat sequences diverge on their own way in each wheat line, implying specific mechanisms for selecting certain repeat types as functional core CEN. Furthermore, we observed that CENH3 nucleosome structures display looser wrapping of DNA termini on complex centromeric repeats, including the repositioned CEN. We also found that strict CENH3 nucleosome positioning and intrinsic DNA features play a role in determining centromere identity among different lines. Specific non-B form DNAs were substantially associated with CENH3 nucleosomes for the repositioned centromeres. These findings suggest that multiple mechanisms were involved in the adaptation of CENH3 nucleosomes that can stabilize CEN. Ultimately, we proposed a remarkable epigenetic plasticity of centromere chromatin within the diverse genomic context, and the high robustness is crucial for maintaining centromere function and genome stability in wheat 10+ lines as a result of past breeding selections.