Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biological Sciences


Biological Sciences


Kenneth Hillers


Meiosis is a specialized form of cell division in which haploid gametes are produced from diploid progenitors. This reduction in ploidy results from proper meiotic chromosome segregation and is ensured by crossover recombination events. Given their importance, it is no surprise that crossover formation is regulated in most eukaryotes. Crossover assurance is a regulatory mechanism that helps to ensure that each pair of chromosomes gets at least one crossover during meiosis.

We seek to better understand how crossover assurance works. To do so, we have developed a system in which crossover formation between a pair of chromosomes is restricted to a defined region. If crossover assurance functions in this context, then crossovers should frequently form in this defined region.

Our experiments involve three yeast strains: Homolog: diploid Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Homeolog: Diploid S. cerevisiae, but with one copy of III derived from S. paradoxus and one from S. cerevisiae. Homo-meolog: The homeolog strain, but with the HIS4 region of the S. paradoxus III replaced with the corresponding S. cerevisiae sequence.

S. cerevisiae and S. paradoxus are largely syntenic and have 80-90% sequence homology. This level of sequence divergence greatly reduces the incidence of meiotic crossing over. Thus, in the Homeolog strain chromosomes III will frequently fail to form crossovers. In the Homo-meolog strain, a defined region of homology surrounding HIS4 (a hotspot for meiotic recombination) exists in a chromosomal context of homeology. In the Homo-meolog strain, crossover assurance should result in a high incidence of crossover formation in the HIS4 region. By comparing the spectrum of meiotic recombination events in the HIS4 region in the three strains, we will gain insight into the means through which crossover assurance is enforced.

These experiments are in the preliminary stage. Strain construction and data collection are ongoing, but our preliminary results demonstrate an elevated incidence of crossing over in the HIS4 region in the homo-meolog strain relative to both the homolog and homeolog strains. Spore viability patterns in the homo-meolog strain are not statistically distinguishable from that of the homolog strain, but are different from that of the homeolog strain. Taken together, these results suggest that the crossovers are targeted to the HIS4 region in the homo-meolog strain, possible through the action of a crossover assurance mechanism. Further analysis of the patterns of recombination in these strains may provide insight into the means through which this regulation is exerted.