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The position on a CHROMOSOME where the chromosome separates during cell division. The centromere is a structure of noncoding DNA (DNA that does not convey genetic information). When the cell divides the strands of the chromatids migrate in opposite directions (pull apart) at the centromere.
In a photomicrograph, the centromere appears as an indented, waistlike area on the chromosome. Geneticists use the centromere’s position, along with other characteristics of the chromosome, to match chromosomes into their pairs when creating KARYOTYPES.
For further discussion of centromeres within the context of the structures and functions of genetics, please see the overview section “Genetics and Molecular Medicine.”