A yeast two-hybrid screen for SYP-3 interactors identifies SYP-4, a component required for synaptonemal complex assembly and chiasma formation in Caenorhabditis elegans meiosis

PLoS Genet. 2009 Oct;5(10):e1000669. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000669. Epub 2009 Oct 2.


The proper assembly of the synaptonemal complex (SC) between homologs is critical to ensure accurate meiotic chromosome segregation. The SC is a meiotic tripartite structure present from yeast to humans, comprised of proteins assembled along the axes of the chromosomes and central region (CR) proteins that bridge the two chromosome axes. Here we identify SYP-4 as a novel structural component of the SC in Caenorhabditis elegans. SYP-4 interacts in a yeast two-hybrid assay with SYP-3, one of components of the CR of the SC, and is localized at the interface between homologs during meiosis. SYP-4 is essential for the localization of SYP-1, SYP-2, and SYP-3 CR proteins onto chromosomes, thereby playing a crucial role in the stabilization of pairing interactions between homologous chromosomes. In the absence of SYP-4, the levels of recombination intermediates, as indicated by RAD-51 foci, are elevated in mid-prophase nuclei, and crossover recombination events are significantly reduced. The lack of chiasmata observed in syp-4 mutants supports the elevated levels of chromosome nondisjunction manifested in high embryonic lethality. Altogether our findings place SYP-4 as a central player in SC formation and broaden our understanding of the structure of the SC and its assembly.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chromatids / genetics
  • Chromatids / metabolism*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism*
  • Meiosis*
  • Protein Binding
  • Synaptonemal Complex / genetics
  • Synaptonemal Complex / metabolism*
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • SYP-3 protein, C elegans