Baum M, Clarke L

Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Apr;20(8):2852–64

Two functionally important DNA sequence elements in centromeres of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe are the centromeric central core and the K-type repeat. Both of these DNA elements show internal functional redundancy that is not correlated with a conserved DNA sequence. Specific, but degenerate, sequences in these elements are bound in vitro by the S. pombe DNA-binding proteins Abp1p (also called Cbp1p) and Cbhp, which are related to the mammalian centromere DNA-binding protein CENP-B. In this study, we determined that Abp1p binds to at least one of its target sequences within S. pombe centromere II central core (cc2) DNA with an affinity (K(s) = 7 x 10(9) M(-1)) higher than those of other known centromere DNA-binding proteins for their cognate targets. In vivo, epitope-tagged Cbhp associated with centromeric K repeat chromatin, as well as with noncentromeric regions. Like abp1(+)/cbp1(+), we found that cbh(+) is not essential in fission yeast, but a strain carrying deletions of both genes (Deltaabp1 Deltacbh) is extremely compromised in growth rate and morphology and missegregates chromosomes at very high frequency. The synergism between the two null mutations suggests that these proteins perform redundant functions in S. pombe chromosome segregation. In vitro assays with cell extracts with these proteins depleted allowed the specific assignments of several binding sites for them within cc2 and the K-type repeat. Redundancy observed at the centromere DNA level appears to be reflected at the protein level, as no single member of the CENP-B-related protein family is essential for proper chromosome segregation in fission yeast. The relevance of these findings to mammalian centromeres is discussed.