Meiotic chromosomes: integrating structure and function

Annu Rev Genet. 1999;33:603-754. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.33.1.603.


Meiotic chromosomes have been studied for many years, in part because of the fundamental life processes they represent, but also because meiosis involves the formation of homolog pairs, a feature which greatly facilitates the study of chromosome behavior. The complex events involved in homolog juxtaposition necessitate prolongation of prophase, thus permitting resolution of events that are temporally compressed in the mitotic cycle. Furthermore, once homologs are paired, the chromosomes are connected by a specific structure: the synaptonemal complex. Finally, interaction of homologs includes recombination at the DNA level, which is intimately linked to structural features of the chromosomes. In consequence, recombination-related events report on diverse aspects of chromosome morphogenesis, notably relationships between sisters, development of axial structure, and variations in chromatin status. The current article reviews recent information on these topics in an historical context. This juxtaposition has suggested new relationships between structure and function. Additional issues were addressed in a previous chapter (551).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / genetics
  • Chromosomes / physiology*
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Meiosis / physiology*
  • Recombination, Genetic