Structure of the human inner kinetochore CCAN complex and its significance for human centromere organization
Centromeres are specialized chromosome loci that seed the kinetochore, a large protein complex that effects chromosome segregation. A 16-subunit complex, the constitutive centromere associated network (CCAN), establishes an interface between the specialized centromeric chromatin, marked by the histone H3 variant CENP-A, and the spindle-binding moiety of the kinetochore. Here, we report a cryo-electron microscopy structure of human CCAN. We highlight unique features such as the pseudo GTPase CENP-M and report how a crucial CENP-C motif binds the CENP-LN complex. The CCAN structure has implications for the mechanism of specific recognition of the CENP-A nucleosome. A model consistent with our structure depicts the CENP-C bound nucleosome as connected to the CCAN through extended, flexible regions of CENP-C. An alternative model identifies both CENP-C and CENP-N as specificity determinants but requires CENP-N to bind CENP-A in a mode distinct from the classical nucleosome octamer.