The many facets of SC function during C. elegans meiosis

Chromosoma. 2006 Jun;115(3):195-211. doi: 10.1007/s00412-006-0061-9. Epub 2006 Mar 23.


Sexually reproducing organisms rely on meiosis for the formation of haploid gametes. This is achieved through two consecutive rounds of cell division (meiosis I and II) after one round of DNA replication. During the meiotic divisions, chromosomes face several challenges to ultimately ensure proper chromosome segregation. Unique events unfold during meiosis I to overcome these challenges. Homologous chromosomes pair, synapse, and recombine. A remarkable feature throughout this process is the formation of an evolutionarily conserved tripartite proteinaceous structure known as the synaptonemal complex (SC). It is comprised of two lateral elements, assembled along each axis of a pair of homologous chromosomes, and a central region consisting of transverse filaments bridging the gap between lateral elements. While the presence of the SC during meiosis has been appreciated now for 50 years (Moses, Biophys Biochem Cytol 2:215-218, 1956; Fawcett, J Biophys Biochem Cytol 2:403-406, 1956), its role(s) remain a matter of intense investigation. This review concentrates on studies performed in Caenorhabditis elegans, a powerful system for investigating meiosis. Studies in this organism are contributing to the unraveling of the various processes leading to the formation of the SC and the various facets of the functions it exerts throughout meiosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Meiosis*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Synaptonemal Complex / physiology*