Indexed on: 01 Oct '15Published on: 01 Oct '15Published in: Annual review of genetics
Production of gametes of halved ploidy for sexual reproduction requires a specialized cell division called meiosis. The fusion of two gametes restores the original ploidy in the new generation, and meiosis thus stabilizes ploidy across generations. To ensure balanced distribution of chromosomes, pairs of homologous chromosomes (homologs) must recognize each other and pair in the first meiotic division. Recombination plays a key role in this in most studied species, but it is not the only actor and particular chromosomal regions are known to facilitate the meiotic pairing of homologs. In this review, we focus on the roles of centromeres and in particular on the clustering and pairwise associations of nonhomologous centromeres that precede stable pairing between homologs. Although details vary from species to species, it is becoming increasingly clear that these associations play active roles in the meiotic chromosome pairing process, analogous to those of the telomere bouquet.