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Cell. 1996 Jul 12;86(1):135-46.

Direct evidence of a role for heterochromatin in meiotic chromosome segregation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0554, USA.


We have investigated the mechanism that enables achiasmate chromosomes to segregate from each other at meiosis I in D. melanogaster oocytes. Using novel cytological methods, we asked whether nonexchange chromosomes are paired prior to disjunction. Our results show that the heterochromatin of homologous chromosomes remains associated throughout prophase until metaphase I regardless of whether they undergo exchange, suggesting that homologous recognition can lead to segregation even in the absence of chiasmata. However, partner chromosomes lacking homology do not pair prior to disjunction. Furthermore, euchromatic synapsis is not maintained throughout prophase. These observations provide a physical demonstration that homologous and heterologous achiasmate segregations occur by different mechanisms and establish a role for heterochromatin in maintaining the alignment of chromosomes during meiosis.

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