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Symp Soc Exp Biol. 1984;38:245-70.

Composition and role of the synaptonemal complex.


The role of the synaptonemal complex (SC) in synapsis during meiotic prophase is examined in spermatocytes and oocytes of mice heterozygous for rearrangements, using light and electron microscopy of whole mount spreads. The duration of cytologically-characterized substages provides a morphological time axis for synaptic events. At zygotene, synapsis is restricted to homologous regions. A second phase of synapsis, indifferent to homology, follows in early pachytene. By a progressive process of synaptic adjustment, SC configurations, such as duplication buckles and inversion loops, are regularly eliminated and form straight, non-homologously synapsed SCs by late pachytene. In the mouse, crossing over probably occurs during the period of homologous synapsis in the first half of pachytene, suggesting an association between recombination events and synaptic adjustment. During this period, a low level of DNA synthesis, distinct from S-phase replication, is found by 3H-thymidine autoradiography to be localized to the SC, as would be expected if repair synthesis involved with crossing over occurred in SC-associated DNA. This DNA synthesis reaches a peak in pachytene concurrently with synaptic adjustment, suggesting that the two events may be related, possibly through the mediation of DNA-binding SC proteins. Using immunocytological techniques to identify SC proteins, a monoclonal antibody has been isolated that binds to formed SCs but not unpaired axes. Apparently specific for a central region component, the antibody also binds to intermediate filaments in the cytoplasm of cultured somatic cells, indicating possible functional attributes common to the meiotic and mitotic proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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