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Genetics. 2011 May;188(1):21-32. doi: 10.1534/genetics.110.125575. Epub 2011 Feb 21.

Sustained and rapid chromosome movements are critical for chromosome pairing and meiotic progression in budding yeast.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Telomere-led chromosome movements are a conserved feature of meiosis I (MI) prophase. Several roles have been proposed for such chromosome motion, including promoting homolog pairing and removing inappropriate chromosomal interactions. Here, we provide evidence in budding yeast that rapid chromosome movements affect homolog pairing and recombination. We found that csm4Δ strains, which are defective for telomere-led chromosome movements, show defects in homolog pairing as measured in a "one-dot/two-dot tetR-GFP" assay; however, pairing in csm4Δ eventually reaches near wild-type (WT) levels. Charged-to-alanine scanning mutagenesis of CSM4 yielded one allele, csm4-3, that confers a csm4Δ-like delay in meiotic prophase but promotes high spore viability. The meiotic delay in csm4-3 strains is essential for spore viability because a null mutation (rad17Δ) in the Rad17 checkpoint protein suppresses the delay but confers a severe spore viability defect. csm4-3 mutants show a general defect in chromosome motion but an intermediate defect in chromosome pairing. Chromosome velocity analysis in live cells showed that while average chromosome velocity was strongly reduced in csm4-3, chromosomes in this mutant displayed occasional rapid movements. Lastly, we observed that spo11 mutants displaying lower levels of meiosis-induced double-strand breaks showed higher spore viability in the presence of the csm4-3 mutation compared to csm4Δ. On the basis of these observations, we propose that during meiotic prophase the presence of occasional fast moving chromosomes over an extended period of time is sufficient to promote WT levels of recombination and high spore viability; however, sustained and rapid chromosome movements are required to prevent a checkpoint response and promote efficient meiotic progression.

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