HW Bass, O Riera-Lizarazu, EV Ananiev, SJ Bordoli, HW Rines, RL Phillips, JW Sedat, DA Agard and WZ Cande (2000) Evidence for the coincident initiation of homolog pairing and synapsis during the telomere-clustering (bouquet) stage of meiotic prophase. Journal of Cell Science 113(6)1033-1042.

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To improve knowledge of the prerequisites for meiotic chromosome segregation in higher eukaryotes, we analyzed the spatial distribution of a pair of homologs before and during early meiotic prophase. Three-dimensional images of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) were used to localize a single pair of homologs in diploid nuclei of a chromosome-addition line of oat, oat-maize9b. The system provided a robust assay for pairing based on cytological colocalization of FISH signals. Using a triple labeling scheme for simultaneous imaging of chromatin, telomeres and the homolog pair, we determined the timing of pairing in relation to the onset of three sequential hallmarks of early meiotic prophase: chromatin condensation (the leptotene stage), meiotic telomere clustering (the bouquet stage) and the initiation of synapsis (the zygotene stage). We found that the two homologs were mostly unpaired up through middle leptotene, at which point their spherical cloud-like domains began to transform into elongated and stretched-out domains. At late leptotene, the homologs had completely reorganized into long extended fibers, and the beginning of the bouquet stage was conspicuously marked by the de novo clustering of telomeres at the nuclear periphery. The homologs paired and synapsed during the bouquet stage, consistent with the timing of pairing observed for several oat 5S rDNA loci. In summary, results from analysis of more than 100 intact nuclei lead us to conclude that pairing and synapsis of homologous chromosomes are largely coincident processes, ruling out a role for premeiotic pairing in this system. These findings suggest that the genome-wide remodeling of chromatin and telomere-mediated nuclear reorganization are prerequisite steps to the DNA sequence-based homology-search process in higher eukaryotes.

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