by Tena Gržan, Evelin Despot-Slade, Nevenka Meštrović, Miroslav Plohl, Brankica Mravinac
Centromeres are chromosomal domains essential for kinetochore assembly and correct chromosome segregation. Inconsistent in their underlying DNA sequences, centromeres are defined epigenetically by the presence of the centromere-specific histone H3 variant CenH3. Most of the analyzed eukaryotes have monocentric chromosomes in which CenH3 proteins deposit into a single, primary constriction visible at metaphase chromosomes. Contrary to monocentrics, evolutionary sporadic holocentric chromosomes lack a primary constriction and have kinetochore activity distributed along the entire chromosome length. In this work, we identified cCENH3 protein, the centromeric H3 histone of the coleopteran model beetle Tribolium castaneum. By ChIP-seq analysis we disclosed that cCENH3 chromatin assembles upon a repertoire of repetitive DNAs. cCENH3 in situ mapping revealed unusually elongated T. castaneum centromeres that comprise approximately 40% of the chromosome length. Being the longest insect regional centromeres evidenced so far, T. castaneum centromeres are characterized by metapolycentric structure composed of several individual cCENH3-containing domains. We suggest that the model beetle T. castaneum with its metapolycentromeres could represent an excellent model for further studies of non-canonical centromeres in insects.