In the early stages of meiosis, maternal and paternal chromosomes pair with their homologous partner and recombine to ensure exchange of genetic information and proper segregation. These events can vary drastically between species and between males and females of the same species. In Drosophila, in contrast to females, males do not form synaptonemal complexes (SCs), do not recombine and have no crossing-over; yet, males are able to segregate their chromosomes properly. Here, we investigated the early steps of homologues pairing in Drosophila males. We found that homologues are not paired in germline stem cells (GSCs) and become paired in the mitotic region before meiotic entry, similarly to females. Surprisingly, male germline cells express SC proteins, which localize to centromeres and promote pairing. We further found that the SUN/KASH (LINC) complex and microtubules are required for homologues pairing as in females. Chromosome movements are however much slower than in females and we demonstrate that this slow dynamic is compensated in males by having longer cell cycles. In agreement, slowing down cell cycles was sufficient to rescue pairing-defective mutants in female meiosis. Our results demonstrate that although meiosis differs significantly between males and females, sex-specific cell cycle kinetics are integrated with similar molecular mechanisms to achieve proper homologues pairing.

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