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Sex, Tools And Chromosomes

Published: April 12, 2012.
By University of California - Davis


Researchers at the University of California, Davis have discovered a key tool that helps sperm and eggs develop exactly 23 chromosomes each.

During meiosis, the cell division process that creates sperm and eggs, matching chromosomes pair up and become connected by "crossing over" with each other, said Neil Hunter, a professor of microbiology at UC Davis and senior author of the new study.

These connections are essential for precise chromosome sorting and the formation of sperm and eggs with exactly the right numbers of chromosomes.

Hunter, graduate students Kseniya Zakharyevich and Shangming Tang and research associate Yunmei Ma, looked for enzymes that could cut DNA to form crossovers in yeast, which form sexual gametes, or spores, in much the same way that humans and other mammals form sperm and eggs.

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