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A novel chromosome segregation mechanism during female meiosis


In a wide range of eukaryotes, chromosome segregation occurs through anaphase A, in which chromosomes move toward stationary spindle poles, anaphase B, in which chromosomes move at the same velocity as outwardly moving spindle poles, or both. In contrast, Caenorhabditis elegans female meiotic spindles initially shorten in the pole-to-pole axis such that spindle poles contact the outer kinetochore before the start of anaphase chromosome separation. Once the spindle pole-to-kinetochore contact has been made, the homologues of a 4-μm-long bivalent begin to separate. The spindle shortens an additional 0.5 μm until the chromosomes are embedded in the spindle poles. Chromosomes then separate at the same velocity as the spindle poles in an anaphase B-like movement. We conclude that the majority of meiotic chromosome movement is caused by shortening of the spindle to bring poles in contact with the chromosomes, followed by separation of chromosome-bound poles by outward sliding.

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