The Y-encoded gene zfy2 acts to remove cells with unpaired chromosomes at the first meiotic metaphase in male mice

Curr Biol. 2011 May 10;21(9):787-93. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.057. Epub 2011 Apr 28.


During male but not female mammalian meiosis, there is efficient apoptotic elimination of cells with unpaired (univalent) chromosomes at the first meiotic metaphase (MI) [1]. Apoptotic elimination of MI spermatocytes is seen in response to the univalent X chromosome of XSxr(a)O male mice [2], in which the X chromosome carries Sxr(a) [3, 4], the Y-chromosome-derived sex-reversal factor that includes the testis determinant Sry. Sxr(b) is an Sxr(a)-derived variant in which a deletion has removed six Y short-arm genes and created a Zfy2/Zfy1 fusion gene spanning the deletion breakpoint [4, 5]. XSxr(b)O males have spermatogonial arrest that can be overcome by the re-addition of Eif2s3y from the deletion as a transgene; however, XSxr(b)OEif2s3y transgenic males do not show the expected elimination of MI spermatocytes in response to the univalent [6]. Here we show that these XSxr(b)OEif2s3y males have an impaired apoptotic response with completion of the first meiotic division, but there is no second meiotic division. We then show that Zfy2 (but not the closely related Zfy1) is sufficient to reinstate the apoptotic response to the X univalent. These findings provide further insight into the basis for the much lower transmission of chromosomal errors originating at the first meiotic division in men than in women [7].

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Chromosome Pairing / physiology*
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Histological Techniques
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Male
  • Meiosis / physiology*
  • Metaphase / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sex Chromosomes / genetics
  • Sex-Determining Region Y Protein / genetics
  • Spermatocytes / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transgenes / genetics


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Sex-Determining Region Y Protein
  • Sry protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors
  • Zfy1 protein, mouse
  • Zfy2 protein, mouse