Yeast Nuclei Display Prominent Centromere Clustering That Is Reduced in Nondividing Cells and in Meiotic Prophase

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Chromosome arrangement in spread nuclei of the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae was studied by fluorescence in situ hybridization with probes to centromeres and telomeric chromosome regions. We found that during interphase centromeres are tightly clustered in a peripheral region of the nucleus, whereas telomeres tend to occupy the area outside the centromeric domain. In vigorously growing cultures, centromere clustering occurred in ∼90% of cells and it appeared to be maintained throughout interphase. It was reduced when cells were kept under stationary conditions for an extended period. In meiosis, centromere clusters disintegrated before the emergence of the earliest precursors of the synaptonemal complex. Evidence for the contribution of centromere clustering to other aspects of suprachromosomal nuclear order, in particular the vegetative association of homologous chromosomes, is provided, and a possible supporting role in meiotic homology searching is discussed.

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