We review the critical events in early meiotic prophase in oocytes. We focus on four aspects of this process: the formation of the synaptonemal complex (SC) and its role in maintaining homologous chromosome pairings, the critical roles of the meiosis-specific process of centromere clustering in the formation of a full-length SC, the mechanisms by which preprogrammed double-strand breaks initiate meiotic recombination, and the checkpoints that govern the progression and coordination of these processes. Central to this discussion are the roles that somatic pairing events play in establishing the necessary conditions for proper SC formation, the roles of centromere pairing in synapsis initiation, and the mechanisms by which oocytes detect failures in SC formation and/or recombination. Finally, we correlate what is known in oocytes with our understanding of these processes in other systems.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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