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Elife. 2019 Jan 18;8. pii: e40372. doi: 10.7554/eLife.40372.

A conserved filamentous assembly underlies the structure of the meiotic chromosome axis.

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Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, United States.
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, United States.
Department of Chemistry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, United States.
Gene Center and Department of Biochemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany.
Crystallographic Methods, Institute of Molecular Biology of Barcelona (IBMB-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain.
Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Wesleyan University, Middletown, United States.
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, La Jolla, United States.
Contributed equally


The meiotic chromosome axis plays key roles in meiotic chromosome organization and recombination, yet the underlying protein components of this structure are highly diverged. Here, we show that 'axis core proteins' from budding yeast (Red1), mammals (SYCP2/SYCP3), and plants (ASY3/ASY4) are evolutionarily related and play equivalent roles in chromosome axis assembly. We first identify 'closure motifs' in each complex that recruit meiotic HORMADs, the master regulators of meiotic recombination. We next find that axis core proteins form homotetrameric (Red1) or heterotetrameric (SYCP2:SYCP3 and ASY3:ASY4) coiled-coil assemblies that further oligomerize into micron-length filaments. Thus, the meiotic chromosome axis core in fungi, mammals, and plants shares a common molecular architecture, and likely also plays conserved roles in meiotic chromosome axis assembly and recombination control.


A. thaliana; HORMAD protein; S. cerevisiae; Zygosaccharomyces rouxii; chromosomes; coiled-coil; gene expression; meiotic chromosome axis; meiotic recombination; molecular biophysics; mouse; structural biology

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