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J Cell Sci. 2011 Feb 15;124(Pt 4):501-13. doi: 10.1242/jcs.074427.

The choice in meiosis - defining the factors that influence crossover or non-crossover formation.

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  • 1DNA Damage Response Laboratory, Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, Clare Hall, Blanche Lane, South Mimms EN6 3LD, UK.


Meiotic crossovers are essential for ensuring correct chromosome segregation as well as for creating new combinations of alleles for natural selection to take place. During meiosis, excess meiotic double-strand breaks (DSBs) are generated; a subset of these breaks are repaired to form crossovers, whereas the remainder are repaired as non-crossovers. What determines where meiotic DSBs are created and whether a crossover or non-crossover will be formed at any particular DSB remains largely unclear. Nevertheless, several recent papers have revealed important insights into the factors that control the decision between crossover and non-crossover formation in meiosis, including DNA elements that determine the positioning of meiotic DSBs, and the generation and processing of recombination intermediates. In this review, we focus on the factors that influence DSB positioning, the proteins required for the formation of recombination intermediates and how the processing of these structures generates either a crossover or non-crossover in various organisms. A discussion of crossover interference, assurance and homeostasis, which influence crossing over on a chromosome-wide and genome-wide scale - in addition to current models for the generation of interference - is also included. This Commentary aims to highlight recent advances in our understanding of the factors that promote or prevent meiotic crossing over.

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