Special Reviews

Chromosome Choreography: The Meiotic Ballet

Science  08 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5634, pp. 785-789
DOI: 10.1126/science.1086605

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Abstract

The separation of homologous chromosomes during meiosis in eukaryotes is the physical basis of Mendelian inheritance. The core of the meiotic process is a specialized nuclear division (meiosis I) in which homologs pair with each other, recombine, and then segregate from each other. The processes of chromosome alignment and pairing allow for homolog recognition. Reciprocal meiotic recombination ensures meiotic chromosome segregation by converting sister chromatid cohesion into mechanisms that hold homologous chromosomes together. Finally, the ability of sister kinetochores to orient to a single pole at metaphase I allows the separation of homologs to two different daughter cells. Failures to properly accomplish this elegant chromosome dance result in aneuploidy, a major cause of miscarriage and birth defects in human beings.

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