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Researchers identify traffic cop for meiosis--with implications for fertility and birth defects
Date:10/1/2013

Researchers at New York University and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have identified the mechanism that plays "traffic cop" in meiosisthe process of cell division required in reproduction. Their findings, which appear in the journal eLife, shed new light on fertility and may lead to greater understanding of the factors that lead to birth defects.

"We have isolated a checkpoint that is necessary for a genome's viability and for normal development," said Andreas Hochwagen, an assistant professor in NYU's Department of Biology, who co-authored the paper with Hannah Blitzblau, a researcher at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "Without this restraining mechanism, chromosomes can end up irreversibly broken during meiosis."

The paper may be downloaded here: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00844.

Most cells in an organism contain two sets of chromosomes, one inherited from the mother and the other from the father. However, sexual reproduction relies on the production of gametes eggs and sperm that contain only one set of chromosomes. These are produced through a specialized form of cell divisionmeiosis.

In this process, maternal and paternal versions of each chromosome pair up and swap sections of their DNA through a process known as homologous recombinationa "reshuffling" that gives rise to chromosomes with new combinations of maternal and paternal genes. This is followed by cell division.

However, in order for normal development to occur, chromosomes must be replicated prior to their reshuffling. The disruption of this process jeopardizes reproduction and can spur a range of birth defects, notably Down syndrome.

Blitzblau and Hochwagen sought to determine what coordinates these processes to ensure they occur in proper order. Doing so would offer insights into how deviations from normal functionality could
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Contact: James Devitt
james.devitt@nyu.edu
212-998-6808
New York University
Source:Eurekalert

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