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Genetics. 2009 Jan;181(1):39-51. doi: 10.1534/genetics.108.093112. Epub 2008 Oct 28.

Drosophila PCH2 is required for a pachytene checkpoint that monitors double-strand-break-independent events leading to meiotic crossover formation.

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Department of Genetics, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854-8020, USA.


During meiosis, programmed DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are repaired to create at least one crossover per chromosome arm. Crossovers mature into chiasmata, which hold and orient the homologous chromosomes on the meiotic spindle to ensure proper segregation at meiosis I. This process is usually monitored by one or more checkpoints that ensure that DSBs are repaired prior to the meiotic divisions. We show here that mutations in Drosophila genes required to process DSBs into crossovers delay two important steps in meiotic progression: a chromatin-remodeling process associated with DSB formation and the final steps of oocyte selection. Consistent with the hypothesis that a checkpoint has been activated, the delays in meiotic progression are suppressed by a mutation in the Drosophila homolog of pch2. The PCH2-dependent delays also require proteins thought to regulate the number and distribution of crossovers, suggesting that this checkpoint monitors events leading to crossover formation. Surprisingly, two lines of evidence suggest that the PCH2-dependent checkpoint does not reflect the accumulation of unprocessed recombination intermediates: the delays in meiotic progression do not depend on DSB formation or on mei-41, the Drosophila ATR homolog, which is required for the checkpoint response to unrepaired DSBs. We propose that the sites and/or conditions required to promote crossovers are established independently of DSB formation early in meiotic prophase. Furthermore, the PCH2-dependent checkpoint is activated by these events and pachytene progression is delayed until the DSB repair complexes required to generate crossovers are assembled. Interestingly, PCH2-dependent delays in prophase may allow additional crossovers to form.

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