DNA double strand break repair, chromosome synapsis and transcriptional silencing in meiosis

Epigenetics. 2010 May 16;5(4):255-66. doi: 10.4161/epi.5.4.11518. Epub 2010 May 16.


Chromosome pairing and synapsis during meiotic prophase requires the formation and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by the topoisomerase-like enzyme SPO11. Chromosomes, or chromosomal regions, that lack a pairing partner, such as the largely heterologous X and Y chromosomes, show delayed meiotic DSB repair and are transcriptionally silenced. Herein, we review meiosis-specific aspects of DSB repair in relation to homology recognition and meiotic silencing of heterologous regions. We propose a dynamic interplay between progression of synapsis and persistent meiotic DSBs. Signaling from these persistent breaks could inhibit heterologous synapsis and stimulate meiotic silencing of the X and Y chromosomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Pairing / genetics*
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded*
  • DNA Repair / genetics*
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Meiosis / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic*