The synaptonemal complex (SC), a key structure of meiosis that assembles during prophase I, has been initially described 60 years ago. Since then, the structure has been described in many sexually reproducing organisms. However, the SC protein components were characterized in only few model organisms. Surprisingly, they lacked an apparent evolutionary relationship despite the conserved structural organization of the SC. For better understanding of this obvious discrepancy, the evolutionary history of the SC and its individual components has been investigated in Metazoa in detail. The results are consistent with the notion of a single origin of the metazoan SC and provide evidence for a dynamic evolutionary history of the SC components. In this mini review, we recapitulate and discuss new insights into metazoan SC evolution.
Keywords: Evolution; Mammals; Meiosis; Metazoans; Phylogeny; Synaptonemal complex.