Differential timing of S phases, X chromosome replication, and meiotic prophase in the C. elegans germ line

Dev Biol. 2007 Aug 1;308(1):206-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.05.019. Epub 2007 May 25.


The replication of chromosomes in meiosis is an important first step for subsequent chromosomal interactions that promote accurate disjunction in the first of two segregation events to generate haploid gametes. We have developed an assay to monitor DNA replication in vivo in mitotic and meiotic germline nuclei of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Using mutants that affect the mitosis/meiosis switch, we show that meiotic S phase is at least twice as long as mitotic S phase in C. elegans germ cell nuclei. Furthermore, our assay reveals that different regions of the genome replicate at different times, with the heterochromatic-like X chromosomes replicating at a distinct time from the autosomes. Finally, we have exploited S-phase labeling to monitor the timing of progression through meiotic prophase. Meiotic prophase for oocyte production in hermaphrodites lasts 54-60 h. Further, we find that the duration of the pachytene sub-stage is modulated by the presence of sperm. On the other hand, meiotic prophase for sperm production in males is completed by 20-24 h. Possible sources for the sex-specific differences in meiotic prophase kinetics are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • DNA Replication
  • DNA, Helminth / biosynthesis
  • DNA, Helminth / genetics
  • Disorders of Sex Development
  • Female
  • Genes, Helminth
  • Germ Cells / cytology
  • Germ Cells / metabolism
  • Male
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Meiosis / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Oogenesis
  • S Phase / genetics
  • S Phase / physiology
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Time Factors
  • X Chromosome / genetics


  • DNA, Helminth