Recent studies of meiotic recombination in the budding yeast and the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana indicate that meiotic crossovers (COs) occur through two genetic pathways: the interference-sensitive pathway and the interference-insensitive pathway. However, few genes have been identified in either pathway. Here, we describe the identification of the PARTING DANCERS (PTD) gene, as a gene with an elevated expression level in meiocytes. Analysis of two independently generated transferred DNA insertional lines in PTD showed that the mutants had reduced fertility. Further cytological analysis of male meiosis in the ptd mutants revealed defects in meiosis, including reduced formation of chiasmata, the cytological appearance of COs. The residual chiasmata in the mutants were distributed randomly, indicating that the ptd mutants are defective for CO formation in the interference-sensitive pathway. In addition, transmission electron microscopic analysis of the mutants detected no obvious abnormality of synaptonemal complexes and apparently normal late recombination nodules at the pachytene stage, suggesting that the mutant's defects in bivalent formation were postsynaptic. Comparison to other genes with limited sequence similarity raises the possibility that PTD may present a previously unknown function conserved in divergent eukaryotic organisms.
Homologous recombination, together with selection, laid the foundation for traditional plant breeding. The recombination process that takes place during meiotic cell division is crucial for the creation of novel variations of highly desired traits by breeders. Gaining control over this process is important for molecular breeding to achieve more precise, large-scale and quicker plant improvement. As conventional ubiquitous promoters are neither tissue-specific nor efficient in driving gene expression in meiocytes, promoters with high meiotic activities are potential candidates for manipulating the recombination process. So far, only a few meiotically-active promoters have been reported. Recently developed techniques to profile the transcriptome landscape of isolated meiocytes provided the means to discover promoters from genes that are actively expressed in meiosis.
In a screen for meiotically-active promoters, we examined ten promoter sequences that are associated with novel meiotic candidate genes. Each promoter was tested by expressing a GFP reporter gene in Arabidopsis. Characterization of regulatory regions revealed that these meiotically-active promoters possessed conserved motifs and motif arrangement. Some of the promoters unite optimal properties which are invaluable for meiosis-directed studies such as delivering specific gene expression in early meiosis I and/or meiosis II. Furthermore, the examination of homologs of the corresponding genes within green plants points to a great potential of applying the information from Arabidopsis to other species, especially crop plants.
We identified ten novel meiotically-active promoters; which, along with their homologs, are prime candidates to specifically drive gene expression during meiosis in plants and can thus provide important tools for meiosis study and crop breeding.
Meiosis; Homologous recombination; Promoter; GFP; cis-regulatory elements; Plant molecular breeding
The IME1 gene is essential for initiation of meiosis in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, although it is not required for growth. Here we report that in stationary-phase cultures containing low concentration of glucose, cells overexpressing IME1 undergo the early meiotic events, including DNA replication, commitment to recombination, and synaptonemal complex formation and dissolution. In contrast, later meiotic events, such as chromosome segregation, commitment to meiosis, and spore formation, do not occur. Thus, nutrients can repress the late stages of meiosis independently of their block of initiation. Cells arrested at this midpoint in meiosis are relatively stable and can resume meiotic differentiation if transferred to sporulation conditions. Resumption of meiosis does not require repression of IME1 expression, since IME1 RNA levels stay high after transfer of the arrested cells to sporulation medium. These results suggest that meiosis in S. cerevisiae is a paradigm of a differentiation pathway regulated by signal transduction at both early and late stages.
In mammalian meiosis, homologous chromosome synapsis is coupled with recombination. As in most eukaryotes, mammalian meiocytes have checkpoints that monitor the fidelity of these processes. We report that the mouse ortholog (Trip13) of pachytene checkpoint 2 (PCH2), an essential component of the synapsis checkpoint in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Caenorhabditis elegans, is required for completion of meiosis in both sexes. TRIP13-deficient mice exhibit spermatocyte death in pachynema and loss of oocytes around birth. The chromosomes of mutant spermatocytes synapse fully, yet retain several markers of recombination intermediates, including RAD51, BLM, and RPA. These chromosomes also exhibited the chiasmata markers MLH1 and MLH3, and okadaic acid treatment of mutant spermatocytes caused progression to metaphase I with bivalent chromosomes. Double mutant analysis demonstrated that the recombination and synapsis genes Spo11, Mei1, Rec8, and Dmc1 are all epistatic to Trip13, suggesting that TRIP13 does not have meiotic checkpoint function in mice. Our data indicate that TRIP13 is required after strand invasion for completing a subset of recombination events, but possibly not those destined to be crossovers. To our knowledge, this is the first model to separate recombination defects from asynapsis in mammalian meiosis, and provides the first evidence that unrepaired DNA damage alone can trigger the pachytene checkpoint response in mice.
It is critical that the chromosomes carried by sperm and eggs contain faithful representations of the genome of the individual that produced them. During the process of meiosis, the maternal and paternal copies of each chromosome “synapse” with each other (become tightly associated), exchange genetic material via the process of recombination, then separate into daughter cells in the first of two meiotic cell divisions. The intricate chromosome behavior is subject to errors, so most organisms have evolved meiotic “checkpoints” that monitor fidelity of chromosome synapsis and repair of DNA damage. These checkpoints cause defective cells to self destruct rather than generate defective sperm or eggs. We studied the effects of deleting mouse Trip13, a gene that in distant organisms plays a key role in meiotic checkpoint control. These experiments revealed that instead of having a checkpoint role, Trip13 is required for one of the two major classes of recombination in meiosis that is required for repairing broken DNA molecules. The chromosomes still synapsed normally, but animals were sterile due to massive death of oocytes and spermatocytes. These results indicate that, in addition to a checkpoint that responds to failed synapsis, one exists to specifically detect unrepaired DNA damage that is due to failed recombination.
In diploid organisms, meiosis reduces the chromosome number by half during the formation of haploid gametes. During meiotic prophase, telomeres transiently cluster at a limited sector of the nuclear envelope (bouquet stage) near the spindle pole body (SPB). Cohesin is a multisubunit complex that contributes to chromosome segregation in meiosis I and II divisions. In yeast meiosis, deficiency for Rec8 cohesin subunit induces telomere clustering to persist, whereas telomere cluster–SPB colocalization is defective. These defects are rescued by expressing the mitotic cohesin Scc1 in rec8Δ meiosis, whereas bouquet-stage exit is independent of Cdc5 pololike kinase. An analysis of living Saccharomyces cerevisiae meiocytes revealed highly mobile telomeres from leptotene up to pachytene, with telomeres experiencing an actin- but not microtubule-dependent constraint of mobility during the bouquet stage. Our results suggest that cohesin is required for exit from actin polymerization–dependent telomere clustering and for linking the SPB to the telomere cluster in synaptic meiosis.
Meiosis is a complex type of cell division that involves homologous chromosome pairing, synapsis, recombination, and segregation. When any of these processes is altered, cellular checkpoints arrest meiosis progression and induce cell elimination. Meiotic impairment is particularly frequent in organisms bearing chromosomal translocations. When chromosomal translocations appear in heterozygosis, the chromosomes involved may not correctly complete synapsis, recombination, and/or segregation, thus promoting the activation of checkpoints that lead to the death of the meiocytes. In mammals and other organisms, the unsynapsed chromosomal regions are subject to a process called meiotic silencing of unsynapsed chromatin (MSUC). Different degrees of asynapsis could contribute to disturb the normal loading of MSUC proteins, interfering with autosome and sex chromosome gene expression and triggering a massive pachytene cell death. We report that in mice that are heterozygous for eight multiple simple Robertsonian translocations, most pachytene spermatocytes bear trivalents with unsynapsed regions that incorporate, in a stage-dependent manner, proteins involved in MSUC (e.g., γH2AX, ATR, ubiquitinated-H2A, SUMO-1, and XMR). These spermatocytes have a correct MSUC response and are not eliminated during pachytene and most of them proceed into diplotene. However, we found a high incidence of apoptotic spermatocytes at the metaphase stage. These results suggest that in Robertsonian heterozygous mice synapsis defects on most pachytene cells do not trigger a prophase-I checkpoint. Instead, meiotic impairment seems to mainly rely on the action of a checkpoint acting at the metaphase stage. We propose that a low stringency of the pachytene checkpoint could help to increase the chances that spermatocytes with synaptic defects will complete meiotic divisions and differentiate into viable gametes. This scenario, despite a reduction of fertility, allows the spreading of Robertsonian translocations, explaining the multitude of natural Robertsonian populations described in the mouse.
Cells have different mechanisms to assess the proper occurrence of cellular events. These mechanisms are called checkpoints and are involved in the surveillance of processes such as DNA replication and cell division. A checkpoint at the pachytene stage arrests meiosis when defects in the process of homologous chromosome synapsis and recombination are detected. In mammals, both transcriptional inactivation of chromosomal regions that are not correctly synapsed at pachytene and activation of sex chromosome genes that are normally silent during this stage could contribute to meiotic arrest. We found that when Robertsonian translocations appear in heterozygosis, many synapsis defects occur, and mechanisms that trigger transcriptional silencing of the unsynapsed chromatin are activated. However, meiotic prophase-I progression is not greatly compromised. This questions the ability of the meiotic checkpoints to halt meiosis progression when synapsis is not completed, allowing cells with synapsis defects to reach the first meiotic division. The fertility reduction of Robertsonian heterozygous mice seems to be mainly caused by errors detected by the metaphase-I checkpoint, when most of the spermatocytes die, rather than by synapsis defects. In an evolutionary context, a permissive pachytene checkpoint could contribute to increasing the chances of Robertsonian translocations to spread into natural populations.
We have investigated the requirements for NDJ1 in meiotic telomere redistribution and clustering in synchronized cultures of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. On induction of wild-type meiosis, telomeres disperse from premeiotic aggregates over the nuclear periphery, and then cluster near the spindle pole body (bouquet arrangement) before dispersing again. In ndj1Δ meiocytes, telomeres are scattered throughout the nucleus and fail to form perinuclear meiosis-specific distribution patterns, suggesting that Ndj1p may function to tether meiotic telomeres to the nuclear periphery. Since ndj1Δ meiocytes fail to cluster their telomeres at any prophase stage, Ndj1p is the first protein shown to be required for bouquet formation in a synaptic organism. Analysis of homologue pairing by two-color fluorescence in situ hybridization with cosmid probes to regions on III, IX, and XI revealed that disruption of bouquet formation is associated with a significant delay (>2 h) of homologue pairing. An increased and persistent fraction of ndj1Δ meiocytes with Zip1p polycomplexes suggests that chromosome polarization is important for synapsis progression. Thus, our observations support the hypothesis that meiotic telomere clustering contributes to efficient homologue alignment and synaptic pairing. Under naturally occurring conditions, bouquet formation may allow for rapid sporulation and confer a selective advantage.
bouquet fluorescence in situ hybridization; ndj1; chromosome pairing; meiosis; telomeres
Meiosis is essential for eukaryotic sexual reproduction and important for genetic diversity among individuals. Efforts during the last decade in Arabidopsis have greatly expanded our understanding of the molecular basis of plant meiosis, which has traditionally provided much information about the cytological description of meiosis. Through both forward genetic analysis of mutants with reduced fertility and reverse genetic studies of homologs of known meiotic genes, we now have a basic knowledge about genes important for meiotic recombination and its relationship to pairing and synapsis, critical processes that ensure proper homolog segregation. In addition, several genes affecting meiotic progression, spindle assembly, chromosome separation, and meiotic cytokinesis have also been uncovered and characterized. It is worth noting that Arabidopsis molecular genetic studies are also revealing secrets of meiosis that have not yet been recognized elsewhere among eukaryotes, including gene functions that might be unique to plants and those that are potentially shared with animals and fungi. As we enter the post-genomics era of plant biology, there is no doubt that the next ten years will see an even greater number of discoveries in this important area of plant development and cell biology.
Abbreviations: DAPI, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DSB, double strand break; DSBR, double strand break repair; SC, synaptonemal complex; TEM, transmission electron microscopy
pairing; recombination; synapsis; crossover formation; interference; spindle assembly
We previously showed that Meu13 of Schizosaccharomyces pombe functions in homologous pairing and recombination at meiosis I. Here we show that a meiosis-specific gene encodes a coiled-coil protein that complexes with Meu13 during meiosis in vivo. This gene denoted as mcp7+ (after meiotic coiled-coil protein) is an ortholog of Mnd1 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Mcp7 proteins are detected on meiotic chromatin. The phenotypes of mcp7Δ cells are similar to those of meu13Δ cells as they show reduced recombination rates and spore viability and produce spores with abnormal morphology. However, a delay in initiation of meiosis I chromosome segregation of mcp7Δ cells is not so conspicuous as meu13Δ cells, and no meiotic delay is observed in mcp7Δmeu13Δ cells. Mcp7 and Meu13 proteins depend on each other differently; Mcp7 becomes more stable in meu13Δ cells, whereas Meu13 becomes less stable in mcp7Δ cells. Genetic analysis shows that Mcp7 acts in the downstream of Dmc1, homologs of Escherichia coli RecA protein, for both recombination and subsequent sporulation. Taken together, we conclude that Mcp7 associates with Meu13 and together they play a key role in meiotic recombination.
The molecular mechanism for meiotic entry remains largely elusive in flowering plants. Only Arabidopsis SWI1/DYAD and maize AM1, both of which are the coiled-coil protein, are known to be required for the initiation of plant meiosis. The mechanism underlying the synchrony of male meiosis, characteristic to flowering plants, has also been unclear in the plant kingdom. In other eukaryotes, RNA-recognition-motif (RRM) proteins are known to play essential roles in germ-cell development and meiosis progression. Rice MEL2 protein discovered in this study shows partial similarity with human proline-rich RRM protein, deleted in Azoospermia-Associated Protein1 (DAZAP1), though MEL2 also possesses ankyrin repeats and a RING finger motif. Expression analyses of several cell-cycle markers revealed that, in mel2 mutant anthers, most germ cells failed to enter premeiotic S-phase and meiosis, and a part escaped from the defect and underwent meiosis with a significant delay or continued mitotic cycles. Immunofluorescent detection revealed that T7 peptide-tagged MEL2 localized at cytoplasmic perinuclear region of germ cells during premeiotic interphase in transgenic rice plants. This study is the first report of the plant RRM protein, which is required for regulating the premeiotic G1/S-phase transition of male and female germ cells and also establishing synchrony of male meiosis. This study will contribute to elucidation of similarities and diversities in reproduction system between plants and other species.
Meiosis is a pivotal event to produce haploid spores and gametes in all sexually reproducing species and is a fundamentally different type of cell cycle from mitosis. Thus, the molecular mechanisms to switch the cell cycle from mitosis to meiosis have been studied by many researchers. In yeast and metazoans, RNA-binding proteins are known to play important roles in the post-transcriptional regulation of genes implicated in the meiotic entry and meiosis. In contrast, in the plant kingdom, the mechanisms to control the meiotic entry have largely remained elusive. In this study, we discover a novel RNA-recognition-motif (RRM) protein in rice (Oryza sativa L.), designated MEL2, and demonstrate that MEL2 is required for the faithful transition of germ cells from mitosis to meiotic cell cycle. Rice MEL2 shows partial similarity with human DAZAP1, which is an RRM protein and relates to Azoospermia syndrome in human, while there are critical structural differences between germline-specific RRM proteins of mammals and plants. Our findings will lead the molecular-biological studies of plant meiotic entry to the next steps and will enable a comparison of the systems of meiotic entry between animals and plants.
Background and Aims
Much of our understanding of the genetic control of meiosis has come from recent studies of model organisms, which have given us valuable insights into processes such as recombination and the synapsis of chromosomes. The challenge now is to determine to what extent these models are representative of other groups of organisms, and to what extent generalisations can be made as to how meiosis works. Through a comparative proteomic approach with Arabidopsis thaliana, this study describes the spatial and temporal expression of key structural and recombinogenic proteins of cereal rye (Secale cereale).
Antibodies to two synaptonemal complex-associated proteins (Asy1 and Zyp1) and two recombination-related proteins (Spo11 and Rad51) of A. thaliana were bound to meiocytes throughout meiotic prophase of rye, and visualized using conventional fluorescence microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Western analysis was performed on proteins extracted from pooled prophase I anthers, as a prelude to more advanced proteomic investigations.
The four antibodies of A. thaliana reliably detected their epitopes in rye. The expression profile of Rad51 is consistent with its role in recombination. Asy1 protein is shown for the first time to cap the ends of bivalents. Western analysis reveals structural variants of the transverse filament protein Zyp1.
Asy1 cores are assembled by elongation of early foci. The persistence of foci of Spo11 to late prophase does not fit the current model of molecular recombination. The putative structural variants of Zyp1 may indicate modification of the protein as bivalents are assembled.
Rye; Secale cereale; meiosis; proteins; immunocytology; western analysis
We describe the identification of a new meiosis-specific gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, NDT80. The ndt80 null and point mutants arrest at the pachytene stage of meiosis, with homologs connected by full-length synaptonemal complexes and spindle pole bodies duplicated but unseparated. Meiotic recombination in an ndt80 delta mutant is relatively normal, although commitment to heteroallelic recombination is elevated two- to threefold and crossing over is decreased twofold compared with those of the wild type. ndt80 arrest is not alleviated by mutations in early recombination genes, e.g., SPO11 or RAD50, and thus cannot be attributed to an intermediate block in prophase chromosome metabolism like that observed in several other mutants. The ndt80 mutant phenotype during meiosis most closely resembles that of a cdc28 mutant, which contains a thermolabile p34, the catalytic subunit of maturation-promoting factor. Cloning and molecular analysis reveal that the NDT80 gene maps on the right arm of chromosome VIII between EPT1 and a Phe-tRNA gene, encodes a 627-amino-acid protein which exhibits no significant homology to other known proteins, and is transcribed specifically during middle meiotic prophase. The NDT80 gene product could be a component of the cell cycle regulatory machinery involved in the transition out of pachytene, a participant in an unknown aspect of meiosis sensed by a pachytene checkpoint, or a SPO11- and RAD50-independent component of meiotic chromosomes that is the target of cell cycle signaling.
High-throughput studies of the 6,200 genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae have provided valuable data resources. However, these resources require a return to experimental analysis to test predictions. An in-silico screen, mining existing interaction, expression, localization, and phenotype datasets was developed with the aim of selecting minimally characterized genes involved in meiotic DNA processing. Based on our selection procedure, 81 deletion mutants were constructed and tested for phenotypic abnormalities. Eleven (13.6%) genes were identified to have novel roles in meiotic DNA processes including DNA replication, recombination, and chromosome segregation. In particular, this analysis showed that Def1, a protein that facilitates ubiquitination of RNA polymerase II as a response to DNA damage, is required for efficient synapsis between homologues and normal levels of crossover recombination during meiosis. These characteristics are shared by a group of proteins required for Zip1 loading (ZMM proteins). Additionally, Soh1/Med31, a subunit of the RNA pol II mediator complex, Bre5, a ubiquitin protease cofactor and an uncharacterized protein, Rmr1/Ygl250w, are required for normal levels of gene conversion events during meiosis. We show how existing datasets may be used to define gene sets enriched for specific roles and how these can be evaluated by experimental analysis.
Since the genome of S. cerevisiae was sequenced in 1996, a major objective has been to characterize its 6,200 genes. Important contributions to this have been made using high-throughput screens. These have provided a vast quantity of information, but many genes remain minimally characterized, and the high-throughput data are necessarily superficial and not always reliable. We aimed to bridge the gap between the high-throughput data and detailed experimental analysis. Specifically, we have developed a strategy of combining different sources of high-throughput data to predict minimally characterized genes that might be implicated in DNA processing. From this we have gone on to test the involvement of these genes in meiosis using detailed experimental analysis. In a sense, we have turned high-throughput analysis on its head and used it to return to low-throughput experimental analysis. Using this strategy we have obtained evidence that 16 out of 81 genes selected (20%) are indeed involved in DNA processing and 13 of these genes (16%) are involved in meiotic DNA processing. Our selection strategy demonstrates that different sources of high-throughput data can successfully be combined to predict gene function. Thus, we have used detailed experimental analysis to validate the predictions of high-throughput analysis.
Gene conversion, the non-reciprocal exchange of genetic information, is one of the potential products of meiotic recombination. It can shape genome structure by acting on repetitive DNA elements, influence allele frequencies at the population level, and is known to be implicated in human disease. But gene conversion is hard to detect directly except in organisms, like fungi, that group their gametes following meiosis. We have developed a novel visual assay that enables us to detect gene conversion events directly in the gametes of the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Using this assay we measured gene conversion events across the genome of more than one million meioses and determined that the genome-wide average frequency is 3.5×10−4 conversions per locus per meiosis. We also detected significant locus-to-locus variation in conversion frequency but no intra-locus variation. Significantly, we found one locus on the short arm of chromosome 4 that experienced 3-fold to 6-fold more gene conversions than the other loci tested. Finally, we demonstrated that we could modulate conversion frequency by varying experimental conditions.
During the production of gametes, most sexually reproducing organisms undergo meiotic recombination. The most familiar form of meiotic recombination is crossing-over, which results in the reciprocal exchange of DNA between parental chromosomes and is important for chromosome segregation as well as generating new allelic combinations in progeny. The same molecular mechanisms that facilitate crossing-over can also enable the non-reciprocal exchange of genetic information between chromosomes in the process called gene conversion. Understanding gene conversion is important because it influences allele frequencies and has been implicated in human diseases. Unfortunately, it has been difficult until now to measure directly except in organisms, like fungi, that group their gametes after meiosis. In this study we have developed a novel assay system that enables us to measure gene conversion directly in the model multi-cellular eukaryote A. thaliana (a flowering plant). Using this assay system we measured gene conversion frequencies across the Arabidopsis genome in more than 1 million meioses and also demonstrated that we can manipulate those frequencies by varying experimental conditions.
Accurate chromosome segregation during meiosis requires that homologous chromosomes pair and become physically connected so that they can orient properly on the meiosis I spindle. These connections are formed by homologous recombination closely integrated with the development of meiosis-specific, higher-order chromosome structures. The yeast Pch2 protein has emerged as an important factor with roles in both recombination and chromosome structure formation, but recent analysis suggested that TRIP13, the mouse Pch2 ortholog, is not required for the same processes. Using distinct Trip13 alleles with moderate and severe impairment of TRIP13 function, we report here that TRIP13 is required for proper synaptonemal complex formation, such that autosomal bivalents in Trip13-deficient meiocytes frequently displayed pericentric synaptic forks and other defects. In males, TRIP13 is required for efficient synapsis of the sex chromosomes and for sex body formation. Furthermore, the numbers of crossovers and chiasmata are reduced in the absence of TRIP13, and their distribution along the chromosomes is altered, suggesting a role for TRIP13 in aspects of crossover formation and/or control. Recombination defects are evident very early in meiotic prophase, soon after DSB formation. These findings provide evidence for evolutionarily conserved functions for TRIP13/Pch2 in both recombination and formation of higher order chromosome structures, and they support the hypothesis that TRIP13/Pch2 participates in coordinating these key aspects of meiotic chromosome behavior.
Meiosis is the specialized cell division that gives rise to reproductive cells such as sperm and eggs. During meiosis in most organisms, genetic information is exchanged between homologous maternal and paternal chromosomes through the process of homologous recombination. This recombination forms connections between homologous chromosomes that allow them to segregate accurately when the meiotic cell divides. Recombination defects can result in reproductive cells with abnormal chromosome numbers, which are a major cause of developmental disorders and spontaneous abortions in humans. Meiotic recombination is tightly controlled such that each pair of chromosomes undergoes at least one crossover recombination event despite a low average number of crossovers per chromosome. Recombination is coordinated with the development of specialized, meiosis-specific chromosome structures that stabilize pairing interactions between homologous maternal and paternal chromosomes. We show here that the mouse TRIP13 protein is required for normal execution of many aspects of meiotic recombination and chromosome structure development that it was not previously known to influence. Intriguingly, many of these new roles appear to parallel known functions of a homologous protein from budding yeast, called Pch2. These findings thus indicate that TRIP13/Pch2 functions are more widely conserved throughout evolution than thought before.
Minisatellite DNA is repetitive DNA with a repeat unit length from 15 to 100 bp. While stable during mitosis, it destabilizes during meiosis, altering both in length and in sequence composition. The basis for this instability is unknown. To investigate the factors controlling minisatellite stability, a minisatellite sequence 3′ of the human HRAS1 gene was introduced into the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome, replacing the wild-type HIS4 promoter. The minisatellite tract exhibited the same phenotypes in yeast that it exhibited in mammalian systems. The insertion stimulated transcription of the HIS4 gene; mRNA production was detected at levels above those seen with the wild-type promoter. The insertion stimulated meiotic recombination and created a hot spot for initiation of double-strand breaks during meiosis in the regions immediately flanking the repetitive DNA. The tract length altered at a high frequency during meiosis, and both expansions and contractions in length were detected. Tract expansion, but not contraction, was controlled by the product of the RAD1 gene. RAD1 is the first gene identified that controls specifically the expansion of minisatellite tracts. A model for tract length alteration based on these results is presented.
We have utilized the single equational meiotic division conferred by the spo13-1 mutation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. Klapholtz and R. E. Esposito, Genetics 96:589-611, 1980) as a technique to study the genetic control of meiotic recombination and to analyze the meiotic effects of several radiation-sensitive mutations (rad6-1, rad50-1, and rad52-1) which have been reported to reduce meiotic recombination (Game et al., Genetics 94:51-68, 1980); Prakash et al., Genetics 94:31-50, 1980). The spo13-1 mutation eliminates the meiosis I reductional segregation, but does not significantly affect other meiotic events (including recombination). Because of the unique meiosis it confers, the spo13-1 mutation provides an opportunity to recover viable meiotic products in a Rec- background. In contrast to the single rad50-1 mutant, we found that the double rad50-1 spo13-1 mutant produced viable ascospores after meiosis and sporulation. These spores were nonrecombinant: meiotic crossing-over was reduced at least 150-fold, and no increase in meiotic gene conversion was observed over mitotic background levels. The rad50-1 mutation did not, however, confer a Rec- phenotype in mitosis; rather, it increased both spontaneous crossing-over and gene conversion. The spore inviability conferred by the single rad6-1 and rad52-1 mutations was not eliminated by the presence of the spo13-1 mutation. Thus, only the rad50 gene has been unambiguously identified by analysis of viable meiotic ascospores as a component of the meiotic recombination system.
In many species, sex-related differences in crossover (CO) rates have been described at chromosomal and regional levels. In this study, we determined the CO distribution along the entire Arabidopsis thaliana Chromosome 4 (18 Mb) in male and female meiosis, using high density genetic maps built on large backcross populations (44 markers, >1,300 plants). We observed dramatic differences between male and female map lengths that were calculated as 88 cM and 52 cM, respectively. This difference is remarkably parallel to that between the total synaptonemal complex lengths measured in male and female meiocytes by immunolabeling of ZYP1 (a component of the synaptonemal complex). Moreover, CO landscapes were clearly different: in particular, at both ends of the map, male CO rates were higher (up to 4-fold the mean value), whereas female CO rates were equal or even below the chromosomal average. This unique material gave us the opportunity to perform a detailed analysis of CO interference on Chromosome 4 in male and female meiosis. The number of COs per chromosome and the distances between them clearly departs from randomness. Strikingly, the interference level (measured by coincidence) varied significantly along the chromosome in male meiosis and was correlated to the physical distance between COs. The significance of this finding on the relevance of current CO interference models is discussed.
Meiotic crossovers between homologous chromosomes ensure their proper segregation to generate ultimately gametes. They also create new allelic combinations which contribute to the diversity of traits among individuals. In all eukaryotes, the number and the localization of crossovers along chromosomes are not random. In addition, crossovers are not independent of each other: the occurrence of a crossover lowers the probability that another crossover arises in its vicinity. The mechanism of this phenomenon, called “crossover interference,” is one of the most challenging puzzles that geneticists have been faced with in the last century. In this paper, we precisely described the distribution of crossovers along Chromosome 4 of the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, separately in male and female meiosis. Interestingly, we observed that crossovers are 1.7 more numerous in male than in female meiosis, and this increase is especially marked at the ends of the chromosome. Moreover, our results provide the first evidence that the level of interference along a chromosome is not a constant and is correlated with the physical distance between crossovers. These results shed new light on the determinism of crossover localization and could have important outcomes on the relevance of current models of crossover interference.
In this study we have analysed AtASY3, a coiled-coil domain protein that is required for normal meiosis in Arabidopsis. Analysis of an Atasy3-1 mutant reveals that loss of the protein compromises chromosome axis formation and results in reduced numbers of meiotic crossovers (COs). Although the frequency of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) appears moderately reduced in Atasy3-1, the main recombination defect is a reduction in the formation of COs. Immunolocalization studies in wild-type meiocytes indicate that the HORMA protein AtASY1, which is related to Hop1 in budding yeast, forms hyper-abundant domains along the chromosomes that are spatially associated with DSBs and early recombination pathway proteins. Loss of AtASY3 disrupts the axial organization of AtASY1. Furthermore we show that the AtASY3 and AtASY1 homologs BoASY3 and BoASY1, from the closely related species Brassica oleracea, are co-immunoprecipitated from meiocyte extracts and that AtASY3 interacts with AtASY1 via residues in its predicted coiled-coil domain. Together our results suggest that AtASY3 is a functional homolog of Red1. Since studies in budding yeast indicate that Red1 and Hop1 play a key role in establishing a bias to favor inter-homolog recombination (IHR), we propose that AtASY3 and AtASY1 may have a similar role in Arabidopsis. Loss of AtASY3 also disrupts synaptonemal complex (SC) formation. In Atasy3-1 the transverse filament protein AtZYP1 forms small patches rather than a continuous SC. The few AtMLH1 foci that remain in Atasy3-1 are found in association with the AtZYP1 patches. This is sufficient to prevent the ectopic recombination observed in the absence of AtZYP1, thus emphasizing that in addition to its structural role the protein is important for CO formation.
Homologous recombination (HR) during prophase I of meiosis leads to the formation of physical connections, known as chiasmata, between homologous chromosomes (homologs). Chiasmata are essential for accurate homolog segregation at the first meiotic division. HR is initiated by the formation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). As DNA replication prior to meiosis results in the duplication of each homolog to form two identical sister chromatids, a DSB in one sister chromatid could potentially be repaired using the other as the repair template rather than one of the two non-sister chromatids of the homolog. If this route were predominant, the formation of chiasmata would be disfavored and chromosome segregation would be compromised. However, during meiosis there is a strong bias towards inter-homolog recombination (IHR). In this study we have identified AtASY3, a component of the proteinaceous axes that organize the chromosomes during meiosis in Arabidopsis. We find that AtASY3 interacts with AtASY1, a previously identified axis protein that is essential for crossover formation. We show that loss of AtASY3 disrupts the axis-organization of AtASY1. This results in a substantial reduction in chiasmata, and there is extensive chromosome mis-segregation. We propose that loss of AtASY3 affects the efficiency of the inter-homolog bias.
Two signals activate meiosis in yeast: starvation and expression of the a1 and alpha 2 products of the mating-type locus. Prior studies suggest that these signals stimulate expression of an activator of meiosis, the IME1 (inducer of meiosis) product. We have cloned a gene, IME2, with properties similar to those of IME1: both genes are required for meiosis, and both RNAs are induced in meiotic cells. Elevated dosage of IME1 or IME2 stimulates the meiotic recombination pathway without starvation; thus, the IME products may be part of the switch that activates meiosis. IME1 was found to be required for IME2 expression, and a multicopy IME2 plasmid permitted meiosis in an ime1 deletion mutant. Accordingly, we propose that the IME1 product stimulates meiosis mainly through activation of IME2 expression.
Meiosis is the process which produces haploid gametes from diploid precursor cells. This reduction of chromosome number is achieved by two successive divisions. Whereas homologs segregate during meiosis I, sister chromatids segregate during meiosis II. To identify novel proteins required for proper segregation of chromosomes during meiosis, we applied a high-throughput knockout technique to delete 87 S. pombe genes whose expression is upregulated during meiosis and analyzed the mutant phenotypes. Using this approach, we identified a new protein, Dil1, which is required to prevent meiosis I homolog non-disjunction. We show that Dil1 acts in the dynein pathway to promote oscillatory nuclear movement during meiosis.
fission yeast; meiosis; chromosome segregation; dynein; nuclear movement
Kinetochores can be thought of as having three major functions in chromosome segregation: (a) moving plateward at prometaphase; (b) participating in spindle checkpoint control; and (c) moving poleward at anaphase. Normally, kinetochores cooperate with opposed sister kinetochores (mitosis, meiosis II) or paired homologous kinetochores (meiosis I) to carry out these functions. Here we exploit three- and four-dimensional light microscopy and the maize meiotic mutant absence of first division 1 (afd1) to investigate the properties of single kinetochores. As an outcome of premature sister kinetochore separation in afd1 meiocytes, all of the chromosomes at meiosis II carry single kinetochores. Approximately 60% of the single kinetochore chromosomes align at the spindle equator during prometaphase/metaphase II, whereas acentric fragments, also generated by afd1, fail to align at the equator. Immunocytochemistry suggests that the plateward movement occurs in part because the single kinetochores separate into half kinetochore units. Single kinetochores stain positive for spindle checkpoint proteins during prometaphase, but lose their staining as tension is applied to the half kinetochores. At anaphase, ∼6% of the kinetochores develop stable interactions with microtubules (kinetochore fibers) from both spindle poles. Our data indicate that maize meiotic kinetochores are plastic, redundant structures that can carry out each of their major functions in duplicate.
kinetochore; checkpoint; meiosis; misdivision; afd1
Meiosis halves the chromosome number because its two divisions follow a single round of DNA replication. This process involves two cell transitions, the transition from prophase to the first meiotic division (meiosis I) and the unique meiosis I to meiosis II transition. We show here that the A-type cyclin CYCA1;2/TAM plays a major role in both transitions in Arabidopsis. A series of tam mutants failed to enter meiosis II and thus produced diploid spores and functional diploid gametes. These diploid gametes had a recombined genotype produced through the single meiosis I division. In addition, by combining the tam-2 mutation with AtSpo11-1 and Atrec8, we obtained plants producing diploid gametes through a mitotic-like division that were genetically identical to their parents. Thus tam alleles displayed phenotypes very similar to that of the previously described osd1 mutant. Combining tam and osd1 mutations leads to a failure in the prophase to meiosis I transition during male meiosis and to the production of tetraploid spores and gametes. This suggests that TAM and OSD1 are involved in the control of both meiotic transitions.
In the life cycle of sexual organisms, a specialized cell division—meiosis—reduces the number of chromosomes from two sets (2n, diploid) to one set (n, haploid), while fertilization restores the original chromosome number. Meiosis reduces ploidy because it consists of two divisions following a single DNA replication. In this study, we identified genes that control the entry into the first and the second meiotic division in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Plants lacking the CYCA1;2 gene execute a single division during meiosis producing functional diploid gametes and polyploid plants in the next generation. By combining this mutation with two others that affect key meiotic processes, we generated plants that produce diploid gametes through a mitotic-like division that are genetically identical to their parents. Furthermore, plants lacking CYCA1;2 and another previously described gene (OSD1) undergo no divisions during male meiosis, producing tetraploid pollen grains.
During meiosis, a diploid cell undergoes two rounds of nuclear division following one round of DNA replication to produce four haploid gametes. In yeast, haploid meiotic products are packaged into spores. To gain new insights into meiotic development and spore formation, we followed differential expression of genes in meiotic versus vegetatively growing cells in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Our results indicate that there are at least five different classes of transcripts representing genes expressed at different stages of the sporulation program. Here we describe one of these differentially expressed genes, SSP1, which plays an essential role in meiosis and spore formation. SSP1 is expressed midway through meiosis, and homozygous ssp1 diploid cells fail to sporulate. In the ssp1 mutant, meiotic recombination is normal but viability declines rapidly. Both meiotic divisions occur at the normal time; however, the fraction of cells completing meiosis is significantly reduced, and nuclei become fragmented soon after meiosis II. The ssp1 defect does not appear to be related to a microtubule-cytoskeletal-dependent event and is independent of two rounds of chromosome segregation. The data suggest that Ssp1 is likely to function in a pathway that controls meiotic nuclear divisions and coordinates meiosis and spore formation.
Meiosis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae requires the induction of a large number of genes whose mRNAs accumulate at specific times during meiotic development. This study addresses the role of mRNA stability in the regulation of meiosis-specific gene expression. Evidence is provided below demonstrating that the levels of meiotic mRNAs are exquisitely regulated by both transcriptional control and RNA turnover. The data show that (i) early meiotic transcripts are extremely unstable when expressed during either vegetative growth or sporulation, and (ii) transcriptional induction, rather than RNA turnover, is the predominant mechanism responsible for meiosis-specific transcript accumulation. When genes encoding the early meiotic mRNAs are fused to other promoters and expressed during vegetative growth, their mRNA half-lives, of under 3 min, are among the shortest known in S. cerevisiae. Since these mRNAs are only twofold more stable when expressed during sporulation, we conclude that developmental regulation of mRNA turnover can be eliminated as a major contributor to meiosis-specific mRNA accumulation. The rapid degradation of the early mRNAs at all stages of the yeast life cycle, however, suggests that a specific RNA degradation system operates to maintain very low basal levels of these transcripts during vegetative growth and after their transient transcriptional induction in meiosis. Studies to identify specific cis-acting elements required for the rapid degradation of early meiotic transcripts support this idea. A series of deletion derivatives of one early meiosis-specific gene, SPO13, indicate that its mRNA contains determinants, located within the coding region, which contribute to the high instability of this transcript. Translation is another component of the degradation mechanism since frameshift and nonsense mutations within the SPO13 mRNA stabilize the transcript.