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In the pairing-site model, specialized regions on each chromosome function to establish meiotic homolog pairing. Analysis of these sites could provide insights into the mechanism used by Drosophila females to form a synaptonemal complex (SC) in the absence of meiotic recombination. These specialized sites were first established on the X chromosome by noting that there were barriers to crossover suppression caused by translocation heterozygotes. These sites were genetically mapped and proposed to be pairing sites. By comparing the cytological breakpoints of third chromosome translocations to their patterns of crossover suppression, we have mapped two sites on chromosome 3R. We have performed experiments to determine if these sites have a role in meiotic homolog pairing and the initiation of recombination. Translocation heterozygotes exhibit reduced gene conversion within the crossover-suppressed region, consistent with an effect on the initiation of meiotic recombination. To determine if homolog pairing is disrupted in translocation heterozygotes, we used fluorescent in situ hybridization to measure the extent of homolog pairing. In wild-type oocytes, homologs are paired along their entire lengths prior to accumulation of the SC protein C(S)G. Surprisingly, translocation heterozygotes exhibited homolog pairing similar to wild type within the crossover-suppressed regions. This result contrasted with our observations of c(3)G mutant females, which were found to be defective in pairing. We propose that each Drosophila chromosome is divided into several domains by specialized sites. These sites are not required for homolog pairing. Instead, the initiation of meiotic recombination requires continuity of the meiotic chromosome structure within each of these domains. Copyright © 2005 by the Genetics Society of America.

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