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Sex matters in meiosis.


In mammals, fertilization typically involves the ovulation of one or a few eggs at one end of the female reproductive tract and the entry of millions of sperm at the other. Given this disparity in numbers, it might be expected that the more precious commodity-eggs-would be subject to more stringent quality-control mechanisms. However, information from engineered mutations of meiotic genes suggests just the opposite. Specifically, the available mutants demonstrate striking sexual dimorphism in response to meiotic disruption; for example, faced with adversity, male meiosis grinds to a halt, whereas female meiosis soldiers on. This female "robustness" comes with a cost, however, because aneuploidy appears to be increased in the resultant oocytes.