The EMBO journal

STAG3-mediated stabilization of REC8 cohesin complexes promotes chromosome synapsis during meiosis.

PMID 24797475


Cohesion between sister chromatids in mitotic and meiotic cells is promoted by a ring-shaped protein structure, the cohesin complex. The cohesin core complex is composed of four subunits, including two structural maintenance of chromosome (SMC) proteins, one α-kleisin protein, and one SA protein. Meiotic cells express both mitotic and meiosis-specific cohesin core subunits, generating cohesin complexes with different subunit composition and possibly separate meiotic functions. Here, we have analyzed the in vivo function of STAG3, a vertebrate meiosis-specific SA protein. Mice with a hypomorphic allele of Stag3, which display a severely reduced level of STAG3, are viable but infertile. We show that meiocytes in homozygous mutant Stag3 mice display chromosome axis compaction, aberrant synapsis, impaired recombination and developmental arrest. We find that the three different α-kleisins present in meiotic cells show different dosage-dependent requirements for STAG3 and that STAG3-REC8 cohesin complexes have a critical role in supporting meiotic chromosome structure and functions.