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The machinery for recombination is part of the chromosome structure
Date:8/9/2011

221.10.254.64

This release is available in German.

During the development of gametes, such as egg and sperm cells in humans, chromosomes are broken and rearranged at many positions. Using state of the art technology, the research group of Franz Klein, professor for genetics at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories of the University of Vienna, has analyzed this process at high resolution. The surprising observations regarding the mechanism of meiosis are now published in the scientific top-journal Cell.

Without meiosis there would be no sexual reproduction, as germ cells have to be generated in this specialized cell division. Meiosis results in daughter cells containing a single, complete set of chromosomes, while body cells contain two sets. During fertilization, when sperm and egg fuse, their sets of chromosomes are combined to form a diploid embryo to close the cycle.

Enigmatic meiosis

There are 46 chromosomes in every human cell, 23 maternal and 23 paternal ones. When germ cells are produced, one aspect of the reduction in chromosome numbers comes from merging maternal and paternal chromosomes to form a single daughter chromosome a mechanisms called recombination. "The more we learn about meiosis, the more mysterious it becomes", says Franz Klein from the Department for Chromosome Biology of the University of Vienna. "It is surprising that maternal and paternal chromosomes find each other at all. Because at the time of interaction all chromosomes have generated a sister and are tightly connected with her like a Siamese twin. Normally, in non-meiotic cells, chromosomes only interact and exchange with the sister chromosome. However, during the development of germ cells, only the exchange between parental chromosomes can guarantee the production of daughter cells with the right number
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Contact: Franz Klein
franz.klein@univie.ac.at
43-142-775-6220
University of Vienna
Source:Eurekalert  

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