Dr. Tzur - bisection of the X chromosome disrupts the initiation of chromosome silencing during meiosis

During meiosis, gene expression is silenced in aberrantly unsynapsed chromatin and in heterogametic sex chromosomes. Initiation of sex chromosome silencing is disrupted in meiocytes with sex chromosome-autosome translocations. To determine whether this is due to aberrant synapsis or loss of continuity of sex chromosomes, we engineered Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes with non-translocated, bisected X chromosomes. In early meiocytes of mutant males and hermaphrodites, X segments are enriched with euchromatin assembly markers and active RNA polymerase II staining, indicating active transcription. Analysis of RNA-seq data showed that genes from the X chromosome are upregulated in gonads of mutant worms. Contrary to previous models, which predicted that any unsynapsed chromatin is silenced during meiosis, our data indicate that unsynapsed X segments are transcribed. Therefore, our results suggest that sex chromosome chromatin has a unique character that facilitates its meiotic expression when its continuity is lost, regardless of whether or not it is synapsed.