Keeping chromosomes in check: A new role for heterochromatin

Large changes in the structure of chromosomes are usually fatal for the cell or can lead to genetic diseases such as cancer. Many large chromosomal rearrangements stem from short runs of repeated DNA sequence in a unique region of the chromosome called the centromere. Now, researchers have found that heterochromatin, or tightly-coiled DNA and proteins, in the centromere can suppress chromosomal rearrangements caused by the repeat sequences.

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