Both the pericentromere and the nucleolus have unique characteristics that distinguish them amongst the rest of genome. Looping of pericentromeric DNA, due to structural maintenance of chromosome (SMC) proteins condensin and cohesin, drives its ability to maintain tension during metaphase. Similar loops are formed via condensin and cohesin in nucleolar ribosomal DNA (rDNA). Condensin and cohesin are also concentrated in transfer RNA (tRNA) genes, genes which may be located within the pericentromere as well as tethered to the nucleolus. Replication fork stalling, as well as downstream consequences such as genomic recombination, are characteristic of both the pericentromere and rDNA. Furthermore, emerging evidence suggests that the pericentromere may function as a liquid–liquid phase separated domain, similar to the nucleolus. We therefore propose that the pericentromere and nucleolus, in part due to their enrichment of SMC proteins and others, contain similar domains that drive important cellular activities such as segregation, stability, and repair.
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