Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America


Department of Biological Sciences


In humans, errors in meiotic chromosome segregation that produce aneuploid gametes increase dramatically as women age, a phenomenon termed the "maternal age effect." During meiosis, cohesion between sister chromatids keeps recombinant homologs physically attached and premature loss of cohesion can lead to missegregation of homologs during meiosis I. A growing body of evidence suggests that meiotic cohesion deteriorates as oocytes age and contributes to the maternal age effect. One hallmark of aging cells is an increase in oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Therefore, increased oxidative damage in older oocytes may be one of the factors that leads to premature loss of cohesion and segregation errors. To test this hypothesis, we used an RNAi strategy to induce oxidative stress in Drosophila oocytes and measured the fidelity of chromosome segregation during meiosis. Knockdown of either the cytoplasmic or mitochondrial ROS scavenger superoxide dismutase (SOD) caused a significant increase in segregation errors, and heterozygosity for an smc1 deletion enhanced this phenotype. FISH analysis indicated that SOD knockdown moderately increased the percentage of oocytes with arm cohesion defects. Consistent with premature loss of arm cohesion and destabilization of chiasmata, the frequency at which recombinant homologs missegregate during meiosis I is significantly greater in SOD knockdown oocytes than in controls. Together these results provide an in vivo demonstration that oxidative stress during meiotic prophase induces chromosome segregation errors and support the model that accelerated loss of cohesion in aging human oocytes is caused, at least in part, by oxidative damage.