Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 18, pp 3037–3051 | Cite as

How to halve ploidy: lessons from budding yeast meiosis

  • Gary William Kerr
  • Sourav Sarkar
  • Prakash ArumugamEmail author
Multi-author review


Maintenance of ploidy in sexually reproducing organisms requires a specialized form of cell division called meiosis that generates genetically diverse haploid gametes from diploid germ cells. Meiotic cells halve their ploidy by undergoing two rounds of nuclear division (meiosis I and II) after a single round of DNA replication. Research in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (budding yeast) has shown that four major deviations from the mitotic cell cycle during meiosis are essential for halving ploidy. The deviations are (1) formation of a link between homologous chromosomes by crossover, (2) monopolar attachment of sister kinetochores during meiosis I, (3) protection of centromeric cohesion during meiosis I, and (4) suppression of DNA replication following exit from meiosis I. In this review we present the current understanding of the above four processes in budding yeast and examine the possible conservation of molecular mechanisms from yeast to humans.


Meiosis Gametogenesis Ploidy Cell cycle Shugoshin Monopolin FEAR 



Anaphase promoting complex


Cyclin-dependent kinase


Double Holliday junction


Double-strand break


Cdc fourteen early anaphase release


Mitotic exit network




Synaptonemal complex


Spindle pole body



We apologize to numerous colleagues if, due to space constraints, their work is not cited in this review. P.A. and S.S. are supported by a grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, BB/G00353X/1). G.W.K. is supported by a BBSRC-funded studentship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary William Kerr
    • 1
  • Sourav Sarkar
    • 1
  • Prakash Arumugam
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Life SciencesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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