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Nat Genet. 2001 Mar;27(3):271-6.

Recombinational DNA double-strand breaks in mice precede synapsis.

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Division of Developmental Genetics, National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK.


In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, meiotic recombination is initiated by Spo11-dependent double-strand breaks (DSBs), a process that precedes homologous synapsis. Here we use an antibody specific for a phosphorylated histone (gamma-H2AX, which marks the sites of DSBs) to investigate the timing, distribution and Spo11-dependence of meiotic DSBs in the mouse. We show that, as in yeast, recombination in the mouse is initiated by Spo11-dependent DSBs that form during leptotene. Loss of gamma-H2AX staining (which in irradiated somatic cells is temporally linked with DSB repair) is temporally and spatially correlated with synapsis, even when this synapsis is 'non-homologous'.

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