Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Clues to chromosome crossovers

14.02.2013
Neil Hunter’s laboratory in the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences has placed another piece in the puzzle of how sexual reproduction shuffles genes while making sure sperm and eggs get the right number of chromosomes.
The basis of sexual reproduction is that a fertilized egg gets half its chromosomes from each parent — sperm and eggs each contributing one partner in each pair of chromosomes. We humans have 23 pairs of 46 chromosomes: so our sperm or eggs have 23 chromosomes each.

Before we get to the sex part, though, those sperm and eggs have to be formed from regular body cells that contain twice as many chromosomes. That happens through a specialized type of cell division, meiosis.

During meiosis, the couples in each pair of chromosomes have to, well, couple by “crossing over” with each other. Each chromosome pair must become connected by at least one crossover so that when the couples separate, they are delivered to separate sperm or egg cells.

These crossovers also mean that chromosomes can exchange chunks of DNA with each other, shuffling the genetic deck for the next generation. But if too few crossovers are formed, gametes end up with the wrong number for chromosomes, a situation that can cause infertility, pregnancy miscarriage or chromosomal diseases such as Down Syndrome.

Large-scale studies of human genetics have shown that the number of crossovers formed during meiosis is under genetic control. Moreover, women that make more crossovers tend to have more children. One gene suggested to control crossover numbers in humans, called Rnf212, is the subject of a new study by UC Davis researchers lead by Professor Neil Hunter.

Hunter studies how crossovers form and chromosomes separate at the UC Davis Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics and the Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 2009, he was awarded an early career fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The latest paper from Hunter’s lab, published Feb. 10 in Nature Genetics, shows that Rnf212 is essential for crossing-over in mammalian cells. Crossovers form by a process called homologous recombination, in which chromosomes are first broken and then repaired by coupling with a matching template chromosome. Although hundreds of recombination events are started in each cell, only one or two crossovers will form between any given pair of chromosomes.

“There isn’t a special, predetermined site for a crossover. It can occur just about anywhere along a chromosome. But there has to be at least one and there always is,” Hunter said.

In a series of experiments in mouse cells, graduate student April Reynolds, Hunter and colleagues found that the RNF212 protein defines where crossovers will occur by binding to just one or two recombination sites per chromosome where it triggers the accumulation of the protein machinery that actually carries out the cutting and splicing of DNA.

Mice that lacked the gene for RNF212 were sterile. Mice that had one working copy of the gene were fertile, but on careful examination there were fewer crossovers formed while sperm and eggs were being made than in normal mice, potentially reducing fertility. It’s possible that this might be tied to some causes of infertility in humans.

It remains unclear how each pair of chromosomes always manages to crossover at least once. But Hunter says he is, “convinced that RNF212 holds the key to understanding this unique problem in chromosome biology.”

The full author list of the paper is: April Reynolds, Huanyu Qiao, Ye Yang, Jefferson Chen, Neil Jackson, and Kajal Biswas, all in Hunter’s laboratory at UC Davis; J Kim Holloway, Cornell University; Frédéric Baudat and Bernard de Massy, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Montpellier, France; Jeremy Wang, University of Pennsylvania; Christer Höög, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Paula Cohen, Cornell University; & Neil Hunter.

The work was supported by NIH and HHMI.

Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>