Background: The life cycle of most eukaryotic organisms includes a meiotic phase, in which diploid parental cells produce haploid gametes. During meiosis a single round of DNA replication is followed by two rounds of chromosome segregation. In the first, or reductional, division (meiosis I), which is unique to meiotic cells, homologous chromosomes segregate from one another, whereas in the second, or equational, division (Meiosis II) sister centromeres disjoin. Meiotic DNA replication precedes the initiation of recombination by programmed Spo11-dependent DNA double-strand breaks. Recent reports that meiosis-specific cohesion is established during meiotic S phase and that the length of S phase is modified by recombination factors (Spo11 and Rec8) raise the possibility that replication plays a fundamental role in the recombination process.
Results: To address how replication influences the initiation of recombination, we have used mutations in the B-type cyclin genes CLB5 and CLB6, which specifically prevent premeiotic replication in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We find that clb5 and clb5 clb6 but not clb6 mutants are defective in DSB induction and prior associated changes in chromatin accessibility, heteroallelic recombination, and SC formation. The severity of these phenotypes in each mutant reflects the extent of replication impairment.
Conclusions: This assemblage of phenotypes reveals roles for CLB5 and CLB6 not only in DNA replication but also in other key events of meiotic prophase. Links between the function of CLB5 and CLB6 in activating meiotic DNA replication and their effects on subsequent events are discussed.