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Repetitive Elements in Humans

Sequence, Chromatin and Evolution of Satellite DNA

Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Basic Sciences Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Miroslav Plohl, Eva Šatović and Raquel Chaves
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 4309;
Received: 1 April 2021 / Revised: 16 April 2021 / Accepted: 17 April 2021 / Published: 21 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Repetitive DNA Sequences in Eukaryotic Genomes)
Satellite DNA consists of abundant tandem repeats that play important roles in cellular processes, including chromosome segregation, genome organization and chromosome end protection. Most satellite DNA repeat units are either of nucleosomal length or 5–10 bp long and occupy centromeric, pericentromeric or telomeric regions. Due to high repetitiveness, satellite DNA sequences have largely been absent from genome assemblies. Although few conserved satellite-specific sequence motifs have been identified, DNA curvature, dyad symmetries and inverted repeats are features of various satellite DNAs in several organisms. Satellite DNA sequences are either embedded in highly compact gene-poor heterochromatin or specialized chromatin that is distinct from euchromatin. Nevertheless, some satellite DNAs are transcribed into non-coding RNAs that may play important roles in satellite DNA function. Intriguingly, satellite DNAs are among the most rapidly evolving genomic elements, such that a large fraction is species-specific in most organisms. Here we describe the different classes of satellite DNA sequences, their satellite-specific chromatin features, and how these features may contribute to satellite DNA biology and evolution. We also discuss how the evolution of functional satellite DNA classes may contribute to speciation in plants and animals. View Full-Text
Keywords: repetitive DNA; heterochromatin; centromeres; telomeres; H3K9me3; CENP-A; non-B-form DNA repetitive DNA; heterochromatin; centromeres; telomeres; H3K9me3; CENP-A; non-B-form DNA
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MDPI and ACS Style

Thakur, J.; Packiaraj, J.; Henikoff, S. Sequence, Chromatin and Evolution of Satellite DNA. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22, 4309.

AMA Style

Thakur J, Packiaraj J, Henikoff S. Sequence, Chromatin and Evolution of Satellite DNA. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2021; 22(9):4309.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Thakur, Jitendra, Jenika Packiaraj, and Steven Henikoff. 2021. "Sequence, Chromatin and Evolution of Satellite DNA" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 22, no. 9: 4309.

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