Alternative Synaptonemal Complex Structures: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Trends Genet. 2020 Nov;36(11):833-844. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2020.07.007. Epub 2020 Aug 13.


The synaptonemal complex (SC), a highly conserved structure built between homologous meiotic chromosomes, is required for crossover formation and ensuring proper chromosome segregation. In many organisms, SC components can also form alternative structures, including repeating SC structures that are known as polycomplexes (PCs), and extensively modified SC structures that are maintained late in meiosis. PCs display differences in their ability to localize with lateral element proteins, recombination machinery, and DNA. They can be created by defects in post-translational modification, suggesting that these modifications have roles in preventing alternate SC structures. These SC-like structures provide insight into the rules for building and maintaining the SC by offering an 'in vivo laboratory' for models of SC assembly, structure, and disassembly. Here, we discuss what these structures can tell us about the rules for building the SC and the roles of the SC in meiotic processes.

Keywords: chromosome segregation; meiosis; polycomplex; synaptonemal complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Pairing*
  • Chromosome Segregation*
  • Crossing Over, Genetic*
  • Humans
  • Meiosis*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Synaptonemal Complex*


  • Nuclear Proteins