Quantitative study on guinea pig spermatogenesis shows a relative high percentage of early meiotic prophase stages.
Meiosis is the special double cellular division characterized by the reduction of chromosome number of the final products and recombination of genetic information present in maternal and paternal homologous chromosomes. Early stages of meiotic prophase, leptotene and zygotene (L/Z), are functionally important since homologous chromosomes recognize, align, and pair during them. They are poorly represented in the seminiferous tubules of mammalian species, and this fact turns studies focused on these stages difficult to perform. As a consequence, the molecular bases of these important events are so far poorly known and understood in higher eukaryotes. The purpose of this work was to provide an advantageous experimental mammalian model (with a reasonable number of cells) for biochemical and molecular analysis of early meiotic prophase stages. Here, we present the results of our quantitative study on testes material of both immature and adult guinea pig specimens (Cavia porcellus). We show that their seminiferous tubules contain a comparatively high percentage of L/Z spermatocytes, as well as a very conspicuous chromosome bouquet at the L/Z transition, which points out this species as a well-suited one to address studies on such stages in mammals. (+info
A bouquet of chromosomes.
During meiotic prophase, telomeres attach to the inner nuclear envelope and cluster to form the so-called meiotic bouquet. Although this has been observed in almost all organisms studied, its precise function remains elusive. The coincidence of telomere clustering and initiation of chromosome synapsis has led to the hypothesis that the bouquet facilitates homologous chromosome pairing and synapsis. However, recent mutant analysis suggests that the bouquet is not absolutely required for either homologous pairing or synapsis but that it makes both processes much faster and more efficient. The initiation of bouquet formation is independent of the initiation of recombination. However, the progression through recombination and synapsis may be required for exit from the bouquet stage. Little is known about the mechanism of telomere clustering but recent studies show that it is an active process. (+info
The Arabidopsis MutS homolog AtMSH4 functions at an early step in recombination: evidence for two classes of recombination in Arabidopsis.
MSH4, a meiosis-specific member of the MutS-homolog family of genes, is required for normal levels of recombination and fertility in budding yeast, mouse, and Caenorhabditis elegans. In this paper, we report the identification and characterization of the Arabidopsis homolog of MSH4 (AtMSH4). We demonstrate that AtMSH4 expression can only be detected in floral tissues, consistent with a role in reproduction. Immunofluorescence studies indicate that its expression is limited to early meiotic prophase I, preceding the synapsis of homologous chromosomes. A T-DNA insertional mutant (Atmsh4) exhibited normal vegetative growth but a severe reduction in fertility, consistent with a meiotic defect; this was confirmed by cytological analysis of meiosis. RNAi-induced down-regulation of the MSH4 gene resulted in a similar fertility and meiotic phenotype. We demonstrate that prophase I chromosome synapsis is delayed and may be incomplete in Atmsh4, and metaphase I chiasma frequency is greatly reduced to approximately 15% of wild type, leading to univalence and nondisjunction. We show that these residual chiasmata are randomly distributed among cells and chromosomes. These features of chiasma frequency and distribution in Atmsh4 show close parallels to MSH4-independent crossovers in budding yeast that have been proposed to originate by a separate pathway. Furthermore, the characteristics of the MSH4-independent chiasmata in the Atmsh4 mutant closely parallel those of second-pathway crossovers that have been postulated from Arabidopsis crossover analysis and mathematical modeling. Taken together, this evidence strongly indicates that Arabidopsis possesses two crossover pathways. (+info
A puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase is essential for meiosis in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidases (PSAs) participate in a variety of proteolytic events essential for cell growth and viability, and in fertility in a broad range of organisms. We have identified and characterized an Arabidopsis thaliana mutant (mpa1) from a pool of T-DNA tagged lines that lacks PSA activity. This line exhibits reduced fertility, producing shorter siliques (fruits) bearing a lower number of seeds compared with wild-type plants. Cytogenetic characterization of meiosis in the mutant line reveals that both male and female meiosis are defective. In mpa1, early prophase I appears normal, but after pachytene most of the homologous chromosomes are desynaptic, thus, by metaphase I a high level of univalence is observed subsequently leading to abnormal chromosome segregation. Wild-type plants treated with specific inhibitors of PSA show a very similar desynaptic phenotype to that of the mutant line. A fluorescent PSA-specific bioprobe, DAMPAQ-22, reveals that the protein is maximally expressed in wild-type meiocytes during prophase I and is absent in mpa1. Immunolocalization of meiotic proteins showed that the meiotic recombination pathway is disrupted in mpa1. Chromosome pairing and early recombination appears normal, but progression to later stages of recombination and complete synapsis of homologous chromosomes are blocked. (+info
Progression through meiosis I and meiosis II in Arabidopsis anthers is regulated by an A-type cyclin predominately expressed in prophase I.
Meiosis is often described as a special case of cell division since it differs from mitosis in having two nuclear divisions without an intervening S-phase. It will be of great interest to uncover what molecular mechanisms underlie these special features of meiosis. We previously reported that the tardy asynchronous meiosis (tam) mutant of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) is slower in cell cycle progression in male meiosis. Here we report that TAM encodes the A-type cyclin, CYCA1;2. The point mutation in tam replaced a conserved threonine with an isoleucine in the linker region between the alpha4 and alpha5 helices of the first cyclin fold. By studying the dynamics of a CYCA1;2-green fluorescent protein fusion protein under the control of the CYCA1;2 promoter, we found that the fusion protein was most abundant at pachytene, but was undetectable from late prophase I until telophase II. Nonetheless, cell cycle progression in tam was delayed in both pachytene and meiosis II. We conclude either that the CYCA1;2 produced in prophase I indirectly regulates meiosis II progression, or that a very low level of CYCA1;2 directly regulates meiosis II progression. Either of these scenarios is a deviation from the typical mode of action of mitotic cyclins in mitosis and meiosis I, in which each nuclear division is coupled with a peak of expression of mitotic cyclins. (+info
Condensin restructures chromosomes in preparation for meiotic divisions.
The production of haploid gametes from diploid germ cells requires two rounds of meiotic chromosome segregation after one round of replication. Accurate meiotic chromosome segregation involves the remodeling of each pair of homologous chromosomes around the site of crossover into a highly condensed and ordered structure. We showed that condensin, the protein complex needed for mitotic chromosome compaction, restructures chromosomes during meiosis in Caenorhabditis elegans. In particular, condensin promotes both meiotic chromosome condensation after crossover recombination and the remodeling of sister chromatids. Condensin helps resolve cohesin-independent linkages between sister chromatids and alleviates recombination-independent linkages between homologues. The safeguarding of chromosome resolution by condensin permits chromosome segregation and is crucial for the formation of discrete, individualized bivalent chromosomes. (+info
Extreme heterogeneity in the molecular events leading to the establishment of chiasmata during meiosis i in human oocytes.
In humans, ~50% of conceptuses are chromosomally aneuploid as a consequence of errors in meiosis, and most of these aneuploid conceptuses result in spontaneous miscarriage. Of these aneuploidy events, 70% originate during maternal meiosis, with the majority proposed to arise as a direct result of defective crossing over during meiotic recombination in prophase I. By contrast, <1%-2% of mouse germ cells exhibit prophase I-related nondisjunction events. This disparity among mammalian species is surprising, given the conservation of genes and events that regulate meiotic progression. To understand the mechanisms that might be responsible for the high error rates seen in human females, we sought to further elucidate the regulation of meiotic prophase I at the molecular cytogenetic level. Given that these events occur during embryonic development in females, samples were obtained during a defined period of gestation (17-24 weeks). Here, we demonstrate that human oocytes enter meiotic prophase I and progress through early recombination events in a similar temporal framework to mice. However, at pachynema, when chromosomes are fully paired, we find significant heterogeneity in the localization of the MutL homologs, MLH1 and MLH3, among human oocyte populations. MLH1 and MLH3 have been shown to mark late-meiotic nodules that correlate well with--and are thought to give rise to--the sites of reciprocal recombination between homologous chromosomes, which suggests a possible 10-fold variation in the processing of nascent recombination events. If such variability persists through development and into adulthood, these data would suggest that as many as 30% of human oocytes are predisposed to aneuploidy as a result of prophase I defects in MutL homolog-related events. (+info
Mad2 prevents aneuploidy and premature proteolysis of cyclin B and securin during meiosis I in mouse oocytes.
In mitosis, the spindle checkpoint protein Mad2 averts aneuploidy by delaying anaphase onset until chromosomes align. Here we show that depletion of Mad2 in meiosis I mouse oocytes induced an increased incidence of aneuploidy. Proteolysis of cyclin B and securin commenced earlier in Mad2-depleted oocytes, resulting in a shortened duration of meiosis I. Furthermore, overexpression of Mad2 inhibited homolog disjunction. We conclude that Mad2 delays the onset of cyclin B and securin degradation and averts aneuploidy during meiosis I in mammalian oocytes. The data suggest a link between trisomies such as Down syndrome and defective oocyte spindle checkpoint function. (+info