The human centromere proteins A (CENP-A) and B (CENP-B) are the fundamental centromere components of chromosomes. CENP-A is the centromere-specific histone H3 variant, and CENP-B specifically binds a 17-base pair sequence (the CENP-B box), which appears within every other α-satellite DNA repeat. In the present study, we demonstrated centromere-specific nucleosome formation in vitro with recombinant proteins, including histones H2A, H2B, H4, CENP-A, and the DNA-binding domain of CENP-B. The CENP-A nucleosome wraps 147 base pairs of the α-satellite sequence within its nucleosome core particle, like the canonical H3 nucleosome. Surprisingly, CENP-B binds to nucleosomal DNA when the CENP-B box is wrapped within the nucleosome core particle and induces translational positioning of the nucleosome without affecting its rotational setting. This CENP-B-induced translational positioning only occurs when the CENP-B box sequence is settled in the proper rotational setting with respect to the histone octamer surface. Therefore, CENP-B may be a determinant for translational positioning of the centromere-specific nucleosomes through its binding to the nucleosomal CENP-B box.
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