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Male meiotic spindle features that efficiently segregate paired and lagging chromosomes

10 Mar 2020


Chromosome segregation during male meiosis is tailored to rapidly generate multitudes of sperm. Little is known about mechanisms that efficiently partition chromosomes to produce sperm. Using live imaging and tomographic reconstructions of spermatocyte meiotic spindles in Caenorhabditis elegans, we find the lagging X chromosome, a distinctive feature of anaphase I in C. elegans males, is due to lack of chromosome pairing. The unpaired chromosome remains tethered to centrosomes by lengthening kinetochore microtubules, which are under tension, suggesting that a 'tug of war' reliably resolves lagging. We find spermatocytes exhibit simultaneous pole-to-chromosome shortening (anaphase A) and pole-to-pole elongation (anaphase B). Electron tomography unexpectedly revealed spermatocyte anaphase A does not stem solely from kinetochore microtubule shortening. Instead, movement of autosomes is largely driven by distance change between chromosomes, microtubules, and centrosomes upon tension release during anaphase. Overall, we define novel features that segregate both lagging and paired chromosomes for optimal sperm production.