Our work and that of others defined mitosis-specific (Rad21 subfamily) and meiosis-specific (Rec8 subfamily) proteins involved in sister chromatid cohesion in several eukaryotes, including humans. Mutation of the fission yeast
Schizosaccharomyces pombe rec8gene was previously shown to confer a number of meiotic phenotypes, including strong reduction of recombination frequencies in the central region of chromosome III, absence of linear element polymerization, reduced pairing of homologous chromosomes, reduced sister chromatid cohesion, aberrant chromosome segregation, defects in spore formation, and reduced spore viability. Here we extend the description of recombination reduction to the central regions of chromosomes I and II. We show at the protein level that expression of rec8is meiosis specific and that Rec8p localizes to approximately 100 foci per prophase nucleus. Rec8p was present in an unphosphorylated form early in meiotic prophase but was phosphorylated prior to meiosis I, as demonstrated by analysis of the mei4mutant blocked before meiosis I. Evidence for the persistence of Rec8p beyond meiosis I was obtained by analysis of the mutant mes1blocked before meiosis II. A human gene, which we designate hrec8, showed significant primary sequence similarity to rec8and was mapped to chromosome 14. High mRNA expression of mouse and human rec8genes was found only in germ line cells, specifically in testes and, interestingly, in spermatids. hrec8was also expressed at a low level in the thymus. Sequence similarity and testis-specific expression indicate evolutionarily conserved functions of Rec8p in meiosis. Possible roles of Rec8p in the integration of different meiotic events are discussed.