Chromosome pairing and synapsis during meiotic prophase requires the formation and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by the topoisomerase-like enzyme SPO11. Chromosomes, or chromosomal regions, that lack a pairing partner, such as the largely heterologous X and Y chromosomes, show delayed meiotic DSB repair and are transcriptionally silenced. Herein, we review meiosis-specific aspects of DSB repair in relation to homology recognition and meiotic silencing of heterologous regions. We propose a dynamic interplay between progression of synapsis and persistent meiotic DSBs. Signaling from these persistent breaks could inhibit heterologous synapsis and stimulate meiotic silencing of the X and Y chromosomes.

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Keywords Chromosome pairing, DNA double-strand break repair, Histone modification, MSCI, MSUC, Meiosis, Sex chromosomes, γH2AX
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Inagaki, A, Schoenmakers, S, & Baarends, W.M. (2010). DNA double strand break repair, chromosome synapsis and transcriptional silencing in meiosis. Epigenetics, 5(4), 255–266. doi:10.4161/epi.5.4.11518