The Smc5/6 complex, along with cohesin and condensin, is a member of the structural maintenance of chromosome (SMC) family, large ring-like protein complexes that are essential for chromatin structure and function. Thanks to numerous studies of the mitotic cell cycle, Smc5/6 has been implicated to have roles in homologous recombination, restart of stalled replication forks, maintenance of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) and heterochromatin, telomerase-independent telomere elongation, and regulation of chromosome topology. The nature of these functions implies that the Smc5/6 complex also contributes to the profound chromatin changes, including meiotic recombination, that characterize meiosis. Only recently, studies in diverse model organisms have focused on the potential meiotic roles of the Smc5/6 complex. Indeed, Smc5/6 appears to be essential for meiotic recombination. However, due to both the complexity of the process of meiosis and the versatility of the Smc5/6 complex, many additional meiotic functions have been described. In this review, we provide a clear overview of the multiple functions found so far for the Smc5/6 complex in meiosis. Additionally, we compare these meiotic functions with the known mitotic functions in an attempt to find a common denominator and thereby create clarity in the field of Smc5/6 research.
Keywords: DNA repair; Meiosis; Meiotic recombination; Smc5/6; Structural maintenance of chromosomes.