Heterologous synapsis in C. elegans is regulated by meiotic double-strand breaks and crossovers
by Hanwenheng Liu, Spencer G. Gordon, and Ofer Rog
Alignment of the parental chromosomes during meiotic prophase is key to the formation of genetic exchanges, or crossovers, and consequently to the successful production of gametes. In almost all studied organisms, alignment involves synapsis: the assembly of a conserved inter-chromosomal interface called the synaptonemal complex (SC). While the SC usually synapses homologous sequences, it can assemble between heterologous sequences. However, little is known about the regulation of heterologous synapsis. Here, we study the dynamics of heterologous synapsis in the nematode C. elegans. We characterize two experimental scenarios: SC assembly onto a folded-back chromosome that cannot pair with its homologous partner; and synapsis of pseudo-homologs, a fusion chromosome partnering with an unfused chromosome half its size. We observed elevated levels of heterologous synapsis when the number of meiotic double-strand breaks or crossovers were reduced, indicating that the promiscuity of synapsis is regulated by break formation or repair. In addition, our data suggests the existence of both chromosome-specific and nucleus-wide regulation on heterologous synapsis. Please read the full article here.