Molecular perspectives of chromosome pairing at meiosis

Bioessays. 1994 Feb;16(2):101-6. doi: 10.1002/bies.950160206.


Ideas about the mechanisms that regulate chromosome pairing, recombination, and segregation during meiosis have gained in molecular detail over the last few years. The purpose of this article is to survey briefly the shifts in paradigms and experiments that have generated new perspectives. It has never been very clear what it is that brings together the homologous chromosomes at meiotic prophase. For a while it appeared that the synaptonemal complex might be the nuclear organelle responsible for synapsis, but the supporting evidence has not been entirely convincing. Whatever the mechanism, it has always been assumed that homologous synapsis creates the opportunity for homologous DNA sequences to initiate recombination. At present, alternative ideas are developing. Attractive is the concept that double strand DNA repair mechanisms, that find and use the undamaged homologue for repair, have evolved into a meiotic mechanism for the recognition and pairing of homologous sequences. Subsequent intimate synapsis of homologous chromosomes in the context of the synaptonemal complex may serve later functions in the regulation of interference and segregation at first anaphase. A number of areas that are being tested at present and some that may be investigated in the future are discussed at the end of the review.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosomes / physiology*
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure*
  • Chromosomes, Fungal / physiology
  • Chromosomes, Fungal / ultrastructure
  • Consensus Sequence
  • DNA Repair
  • DNA, Fungal
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Meiosis / physiology*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Synaptonemal Complex / physiology*


  • DNA, Fungal