In meiosis, crossovers between homologous chromosomes link them together. This enables them to attach to microtubules of the meiotic spindle as a unit, such that the homologs will be pulled away from one another at anaphase I. Homologous pairs can sometimes fail to become linked by crossovers. In some organisms, these non-exchange partners are still able to segregate properly. In several organisms, associations between the centromeres of non-exchange partners occur in meiotic prophase. These associations have been proposed to promote segregation in meiosis I. But it is unclear how centromere pairing could promote subsequent proper segregation. Here we report that meiotic centromere pairing of chromosomes in mouse spermatocytes allows the formation of an association between chromosome pairs. We find that heterochromatin regions of homologous centromeres remain associated even after centromere-pairing dissolves. Our results suggest the model that, in mouse spermatocytes, heterochromatin maintains the association of homologous centromeres in the absence crossing-over.
Keywords: Centromere-pairing; Chromocenter; Heterochromatin; Meiosis; SYCP1.