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Meiotic homolog pairing involves associations between homologous DNA regions scattered along the length of a chromosome. When homologs associate, they tend to do so by a processive zippering process, which apparently results from avidity effects. Using a computational model, we show that this avidity-driven processive zippering reduces the selectivity of pairing. When active random forces are applied to telomeres, this drop in selectivity is eliminated in a force-dependent manner. Further simulations suggest that active telomere forces are engaged in a tug-of-war against zippering, which can be interpreted as a Brownian ratchet with a stall force that depends on the dissociation constant of pairing. When perfectly homologous regions of high affinity compete with homeologous regions of lower affinity, the affinity difference can be amplified through this tug of war effect provided the telomere force acts in a range that is strong enough to oppose zippering of homeologs while still permitting zippering of correct homologs. The degree of unzippering depends on the radius of the nucleus, such that complete unzippering of homeologous regions can only take place if the nucleus is large enough to pull the two chromosomes completely apart. A picture of meiotic pairing thus emerges that is fundamentally mechanical in nature, possibly explaining the purpose of active telomere forces, increased nuclear diameter, and the presence of "Maverick" chromosomes in meiosis.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Physical biology
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Pairing of purine and pyrimidine bases by HYDROGEN BONDING in double-stranded DNA or RNA.
The alignment of CHROMOSOMES at homologous sequences.
Maintenance of TELOMERE length. During DNA REPLICATION, chromosome ends loose some of their telomere sequence (TELOMERE SHORTENING.) Various cellular mechanism are involved in repairing, extending, and recapping the telomere ends.
The loss of some TELOMERE sequence during DNA REPLICATION of the first several base pairs of a linear DNA molecule; or from DNA DAMAGE. Cells have various mechanisms to restore length (TELOMERE HOMEOSTASIS.) Telomere shortening is involved in the progression of CELL AGING.
Proteins that specifically bind to TELOMERES. Proteins in this class include those that perform functions such as telomere capping, telomere maintenance and telomere stabilization.
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