Fragmenting in private

Catholic University of Louvain

In order to create a new unique being, during reproduction the genomes of the father and mother are divided and recomposed to form a new genome in a process called meiosis. This is precisely what Corentin Claeys Bouuaert is researching in order to detect flaws in the process. His latest discovery is published in Nature.

During reproduction, the father’s and mother’s respective DNA must be fragmented and the pieces reassembled in order to create a new unique being and promote genetic diversity. For the first time, UCLouvain researchers have demonstrated that these programmed DNA breaks are possible thanks to the creation of compartments within the cell in which the chemical reactions necessary to fragment the DNA are stimulated. This phenomenon, called phase transition – in which proteins and nucleic acids condense and aggregate to form intracellular subcompartments – is known in other cellular processes including chromatin organisation, control of transcription and replication, autophagy, stress response, and signal transduction. This is the first time it has been demonstrated in the context of meiosis. The results of the study are published in the prestigious journal Nature.

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