Flavors of Non-Random Meiotic Segregation of Autosomes and Sex Chromosomes

F. Pajpach, T. Wu, L. Shearwin-Whyatt, K. Jones and F. Grützner,  Genes,  12. 2021.

Segregation of chromosomes is a multistep process occurring both at mitosis and meiosis to ensure that daughter cells receive a complete set of genetic information. Critical components in the chromosome segregation include centromeres, kinetochores, components of sister chromatid and homologous chromosomes cohesion, microtubule organizing centres, and spindles. Based on the cytological work in the grasshopper Brachystola, it has been accepted for decades that segregation of homologs at meiosis is fundamentally random. This ensures that alleles on chromosomes have equal chance to be transmitted to progeny. At the same time mechanisms of meiotic drive and an increasing number of other examples of non-random segregation of autosomes and sex chromosomes provide insights into the underlying mechanisms of chromosome segregation but also question the textbook dogma of random chromosome segregation. Recent advances provide a better understanding of meiotic drive as a prominent force where cellular and chromosomal changes allow autosomes to bias their segregation. Less understood are mechanisms explaining observations that autosomal heteromorphism may cause biased segregation and regulate alternating segregation of multiple sex chromosome systems or translocation heterozygotes as an extreme case of non-random segregation. We speculate that molecular and cytological mechanisms of non-random segregation might be common in these cases and that there might be a continuous transition between random and non-random segregation which may play a role in the evolution of sexually antagonistic genes and sex chromosome evolution.

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