From early homologue recognition to synaptonemal complex formation

Chromosoma. 2006 Jun;115(3):158-74. doi: 10.1007/s00412-006-0048-6. Epub 2006 Mar 29.


This review focuses on various aspects of chromosome homology searching and their relationship to meiotic and vegetative pairing and to the silencing of unpaired copies of genes. Chromosome recognition and pairing is a prominent characteristic of meiosis; however, for some organisms, this association (complete or partial) is also a normal part of nuclear organization. The multiple mechanisms suggested to contribute to homologous pairing are analyzed. Recognition of DNA/DNA homology also plays an important role in detecting DNA segments that are present in inappropriate number of copies before and during meiosis. In this context, the mechanisms of methylation induced premeiotically, repeat-induced point mutation, meiotic silencing by unpaired DNA, and meiotic sex chromosome inactivation will be discussed. Homologue juxtaposition during meiotic prophase can be divided into three mechanistically distinct steps, namely, recognition, presynaptic alignment, and synapsis by the synaptonemal complex (SC). In most organisms, these three steps are distinguished by their dependence on DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). The coupling of SC initiation to (and downstream effects of) DSB formation and the exceptions to this dependency are discussed. Finally, this review addresses the specific factors that appear to promote chromosome movement at various stages of meiotic prophase, most particularly at the bouquet stage, and on their significance for homologue pairing and/or achieving a final pachytene configuration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Chromosome Pairing
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Meiosis / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology*
  • Synaptonemal Complex / physiology*