In situ hybridization was used to examine chromosome behavior at meiotic prophase in the rad50S, hop1, rad50, and spo11 mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which are defective in chromosome synapsis and meiotic recombination. Painting of chromosomes I and III revealed that chromosome condensation and pairing are reduced in these mutants. However, there is some residual pairing in meiosis, suggesting that homologue recognition is independent of synaptonemal complex formation and recombination. Association of homologues was observed in the rad50, rad50S, and spo11 mutants, which are defective in the formation or processing of meiotic double-strand breaks. This indicates that double-strand breaks are not an essential component of the meiotic homology searching mechanism or that there exist additional or alternative mechanisms for locating homologues.

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