Let’s get physical – Mechanisms of crossover interference

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27 Scopus citations


The formation of crossovers between homologous chromosomes is key to sexual reproduction. In most species, crossovers are spaced further apart than would be expected if they formed independently, a phenomenon termed crossover interference. Despite more than a century of study, the molecular mechanisms implementing crossover interference remain a subject of active debate. Recent findings of how signaling proteins control the formation of crossovers and about the interchromosomal interface in which crossovers form offer new insights into this process. In this Review, we present a cell biological and biophysical perspective on crossover interference, summarizing the evidence that links interference to the spatial, dynamic, mechanical and molecular properties of meiotic chromosomes. We synthesize this physical understanding in the context of prevailing mechanistic models that aim to explain how crossover interference is implemented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjcs255745
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Our work in this area is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R35GM128804) and the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (DRG-2372-19). Deposited in PMC for release after 12 months.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


  • Chromosomes
  • Crossover interference
  • Meiosis
  • Phase separation


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