The yeast MER2 gene is required for chromosome synapsis and the initiation of meiotic recombination

B. Rockmill, J. Engebrecht, H. Scherthan, J. Loidl, G. S. Roeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Mutation of the MER2 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae confers meiotic lethality. To gain insight into the function of the Mer2 protein, we have carried out a detailed characterization of the mer2 null mutant. Genetic analysis indicates that mer2 completely eliminates meiotic interchromosomal gene conversion and crossing over. In addition, mer2 abolishes intrachromosomal meiotic recombination, both in the ribosomal DNA array and in an artificial duplication. The results of a physical assay demonstrate that the mer2 mutation prevents the formation of meiosis-specific, double- strand breaks, indicating that the Mer2 protein acts at or before the initiation of meiotic recombination. Electron microscopic analysis reveals that the mer2 mutant makes axial elements, which are precursors to the synaptonemal complex, but homologous chromosomes fail to synapse. Fluorescence in situ hybridization of chromosome-specific DNA probes to spread meiotic chromosomes demonstrates that homolog alignment is also significantly reduced in the mer2 mutant. Although the MER2 gene is transcribed during vegetative growth, deletion or overexpression of the MER2 gene has no apparent effect on mitotic recombination or DNA damage repair. We suggest that the primary defect in the mer2 mutant is in the initiation of meiotic genetic exchange.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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