Distinct Properties of the XY Pseudoautosomal Region Crucial for Male Meiosis

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Science  18 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6019, pp. 916-920
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195774

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Meiosis requires that each chromosome find its homologous partner and undergo at least one crossover. X-Y chromosome segregation hinges on efficient crossing-over in a very small region of homology, the pseudoautosomal region (PAR). We find that mouse PAR DNA occupies unusually long chromosome axes, potentially as shorter chromatin loops, predicted to promote double-strand break (DSB) formation. Most PARs show delayed appearance of RAD51/DMC1 foci, which mark DSB ends, and all PARs undergo delayed DSB-mediated homologous pairing. Analysis of Spo11β isoform–specific transgenic mice revealed that late RAD51/DMC1 foci in the PAR are genetically distinct from both early PAR foci and global foci and that late PAR foci promote efficient X-Y pairing, recombination, and male fertility. Our findings uncover specific mechanisms that surmount the unique challenges of X-Y recombination.

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