Immunocytochemical and electron microscopic analysis of synaptonemal complexes (SCs) was carried out for the first time in homozygotes and complex Robertsonian heterozygotes (hybrids) of the common shrew, Sorex araneus Linnaeus, 1758, from a newly discovered hybrid zone between the Moscow and the Neroosa chromosomal races. These races differ in four monobrachial homologous metacentrics, and closed SC tetravalent is expected to be formed in meiosis of a hybrid. Indeed, such a multivalent was found at meiotic prophase I in hybrids. Interactions between multivalent and both autosomes and/or the sex chromosomes were observed. For the first time we have used immunocytochemical techniques to analyse asynapsis in Sorex araneus and show that the multivalent pairs in an orderly fashion with complete synapsis. Despite some signs of spermatocytes arrested in the meiotic prophase I, hybrids had large number of active sperm. Thus, Moscow - Neroosa hybrid males that form a ring-of-four meiotic configuration are most likely not sterile. Our results support previous demonstrations that monobrachial homology of metacentrics of the common shrew does not lead to complete reproductive isolation between parapatric chromosomal races of the species.
Keywords: MSCI; Sorex araneus; Synaptonemal complex; centromeres; γH2AX.