Multiple synaptonemal complexes (polycomplexes): origin, structure and function

Cell Biol Int Rep. 1987 Nov;11(11):759-96. doi: 10.1016/0309-1651(87)90157-3.


Multiple synaptonemal complexes (polycomplexes) (PC) are similar in structure to synaptonemal complexes (SC) and are also highly conserved through evolution. They have been described in over 70 organisms throughout all life forms. The appearance of PCs are restricted to meiotic and germ-line derived tissues and are most commonly present after SC formation. However, in a number of animals and plants, both extra- and intranuclear PCs are present during premeiotic and pre-pachytene stages. The structure and biochemical composition of PCs is similar to SCs that the basic unit is tripartite, consisting of two lateral elements and a central region (in which transverse elements are located), and the dimensions of such structures are equivalent. Stacking of SC subunits, while still maintaining equivalent SC dimensions, creates a problem since the lateral elements (LE) would then be twice as thick in the PC as compared to the SC. Recently, it has been shown that the LE of the SC is actually multistranded, thus the LE of each subunit of the PC is half as thick as its counterpart in the SC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Meiosis*
  • Mitosis
  • Synaptonemal Complex*