Review

Chromosoma

, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 250-259

Sex chromosomes, synapsis, and cohesins: a complex affair

  • Jesús PageAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Edificio de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Email author 
  • , Roberto de la FuenteAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Edificio de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • , Rocío GómezAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Edificio de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • , Adela CalventeAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Edificio de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • , Alberto VieraAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Edificio de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • , María Teresa ParraAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Edificio de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • , Juan Luis SantosAffiliated withDepartamento de Genética, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense
  • , Soledad BerríosAffiliated withPrograma de Genética Humana, Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile
  • , Raúl Fernández-DonosoAffiliated withPrograma de Genética Humana, Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile
    • , José Ángel SujaAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Edificio de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
    • , Julio S. RufasAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología, Edificio de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

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Abstract

During first meiotic prophase, homologous chromosomes are held together by the synaptonemal complex, a tripartite proteinaceous structure that extends along the entire length of meiotic bivalents. While this feature is applicable for autosomes, sex chromosomes often escape from this rule. Many species present sex chromosomes that differ between them in their morphology, length, and gene content. Moreover, in some species, sex chromosomes appear in a single dose in one of the sexes. In all of these cases, the behavior of sex chromosomes during meiosis is conspicuously affected, and this includes the assembly and dynamics of the synaptonemal complex. We review in this study the structure of the synaptonemal complex in the sex chromosomes of three groups of organisms, namely: mammals, orthopterans, and hemipterans, which present different patterns of sex chromosome structure and behavior. Of special interest is the analysis of the organization of the axial/lateral elements of the synaptonemal complex in relation to other axial structures organized along meiotic chromosomes, mainly the cohesin axis. The differences found in the behavior of both axial structures reveal that while the organization of a cohesin axis along sex chromosomes is a conserved feature in most organisms and it shows very little morphological variations, the axial/lateral elements of the synaptonemal complex present a wide range of structural modifications on these chromosomes.