Meiotic chromosome pairing involves not only recognition of homology but also juxtaposition of entire chromosomes in a topologically regular way. Analysis of filamentous fungus Sordaria macrospora reveals that recombination proteins Mer3, Msh4, and Mlh1 play direct roles in all of these aspects, in advance of their known roles in recombination. Absence of Mer3 helicase results in interwoven chromosomes, thereby revealing the existence of features that specifically ensure "entanglement avoidance." Entanglements that remain at zygotene, i.e., "interlockings," require Mlh1 for resolution, likely to eliminate constraining recombinational connections. Patterns of Mer3 and Msh4 foci along aligned chromosomes show that the double-strand breaks mediating homologous alignment have spatially separated ends, one localized to each partner axis, and that pairing involves interference among developing interhomolog interactions. We propose that Mer3, Msh4, and Mlh1 execute all of these roles during pairing by modulating the state of nascent double-strand break/partner DNA contacts within axis-associated recombination complexes.
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