Indexed on: 31 Mar '15Published on: 31 Mar '15Published in: FEBS Journal
In meiosis, homologous chromosomes face the obstacle of finding, holding onto and segregating away from their partner chromosome. There is increasing evidence, in a diverse range of organisms, that centromere-centromere interactions that occur in late prophase are an important mechanism in ensuring segregation fidelity. Centromere pairing appears to initiate when homologous chromosomes synapse in meiotic prophase. Structural proteins of the synaptonemal complex have been shown to help mediate centromere pairing, but how the structure that maintains centromere pairing differs from the structure of the synaptonemal complex along the chromosomal arms remains unknown. When the synaptonemal complex proteins disassemble from the chromosome arms in late prophase, some of these synaptonemal complex components persist at the centromeres. In yeast and Drosophila these centromere-pairing behaviors promote the proper segregation of chromosome partners that have failed to become linked by chiasmata. Recent studies of mouse spermatocytes have described centromere pairing behaviors that are similar in several respects to what has been described in the fly and yeast systems. In humans, chromosomes that fail to experience crossovers in meiosis are error-prone and are a major source of aneuploidy. The finding that centromere pairing is a conserved phenomenon raises the possibility that it may play a role in promoting the segregation fidelity of non-exchange chromosome pairs in humans.