"It's the ultimate black box of our genome," says Huntington F. Willard, "and it doesn't play according to the rules." Willard, who heads the Institute for Genomic Sciences and Policy at Duke University and is a member of HHMI's Scientific Review Board, spends much of his time thinking about this peculiar piece of DNA, called a centromere. Sitting at the waistline of our chromosome, centromeres have a vital jobto direct the shuffling of chromosomes during cell division. And although they are generally reliable, they do make genetic mistakes"perhaps one in a hundred cell divisions," says Willard. continued...
Photo: Courtesy of the Willard Lab
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Reprinted from the HHMI Bulletin,
December 2003, pages 12-17.
©2003 Howard Hughes Medical Institute