, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 15-26

Segregation of holocentric chromosomes at meiosis in the nematode,Caenorhabditis elegans

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Abstract

The meiotic segregation of the holocentric chromosomes ofCaenorhabditis elegans in both spermatogenesis and oogenesis is described. The extended kinetochore typical of the mitotic chromosome could not be differentiated on meiotic bivalents; instead microtubules appeared to project into the chromatin. The meiotic spindles formed during spermatogenesis contain centrioles and asters, while in oogenesis the spindles are acentriolar and barrel shaped. The formation of the acentriolar spindle was studied in fixed specimens by anti-tubulin immunofluorescence. Microtubule arrays were seen first to accumulate in the vicinity of the meiotic chromosomes prior to congression. At later stages, elongated spindle structures up to 13 μ in length were observed parallel to the surface of the embryo. Further development of the spindle appeared to involve its shortening into a barrel shape and rotation so that one spindle pole was opposed to the membrane. By anaphase the pole-to-pole spindle length reached a minimum of 3–4 μ. One end of each chromatid in the meiotic bivalent was labelled byin situ hybridization of a probe DNA to show that in oogenesis the chromatids were associated end-to-end in the bivalent. Furthermore, either the right or the left ends of the homologues could be held in association. At metaphase I the bivalents were oriented axially, such that kinetic activity was restricted to one end of each pair of sister chromatids. At metaphase II the chromosomes were also aligned axially.