Mechanism and control of meiotic recombination initiation

Curr Top Dev Biol. 2001;52:1-53. doi: 10.1016/s0070-2153(01)52008-6.


Homologous recombination is essential during meiosis in most sexually reproducing organisms. In budding yeast, and most likely in other organisms as well, meiotic recombination proceeds via the formation and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). These breaks appear to be formed by the Spo11 protein, with assistance from a large number of other gene products, by a topoisomerase-like transesterase mechanism. Recent studies in fission yeast, multicellular fungi, flies, worms, plants, and mammals indicate that the role of Spo11 in meiotic recombination initiation is highly conserved. This chapter reviews the properties of Spo11 and the other gene products required for meiotic DSB formation in a number of organisms and discusses ways in which recombination initiation is coordinated with other events occurring in the meiotic cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Chromosomes / metabolism
  • Endodeoxyribonucleases / genetics
  • Endodeoxyribonucleases / metabolism
  • Esterases / genetics
  • Esterases / metabolism
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Humans
  • Meiosis / physiology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology


  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Endodeoxyribonucleases
  • Esterases
  • meiotic recombination protein SPO11