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Genome Dyn. 2009;5:43-55. doi: 10.1159/000166618.

Homologue pairing, recombination and segregation in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


Meiosis in the free-living, hermaphroditic nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is marked by the same highly conserved features observed in other sexually reproducing systems. Accurate chromosome segregation at the meiotic divisions depends on earlier landmark events of meiotic prophase, including the pairing of homologous chromosomes, synapsis between them, and the formation of crossovers. Dissection of these processes has revealed a unique simplification of meiotic mechanisms that impact the interpretation of meiotic chromosome behaviour in more complex systems. Chromosome sites required for chromosome pairing are consolidated to one end of each chromosome, the many sites of recombination initiation are resolved into a single crossover for each chromosome pair, and the diffuse (holocentric) kinetic activity that extends along the length of the mitotic chromosomes is reduced to a single end of each meiotic chromosome. Consequently, studies from the nematode have illuminated and challenged long-standing concepts of homologue pairing mechanisms, crossover interference, and kinetochore structure. Because chromosome pairing, synapsis, and recombination can proceed independently of one another, C. elegans has provided a simplified system for studying these processes and the mechanisms mediating their coordination during meiosis. This review covers the major features of C. elegans meiosis with emphasis on its contributions to understanding essential meiotic processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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