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Meiosis II

Meiosis II

Meiosis II is the second part of the meiotic process. Much of the process is similar to mitosis. The end result is production of four haploid cells (23 chromosomes, 1N in humans) from the two haploid cells (23 chromosomes, 1N * each of the chromosomes consisting of two sister chromatids) produced in meiosis I. The four main steps of Meiosis II are: Prophase II, Metaphase II, Anaphase II, and Telophase II.

Prophase II takes an inversely proportional time compared to telophase I. In this prophase we see the disappearance of the nucleoli and the nuclear envelope again as well as the shortening and thickening of the chromatids. Centrioles move to the polar regions and arrange spindle fibers for the second meiotic division.

In metaphase II, the centromeres contain two kinetochores that attach to spindle fibers from the centrosomes (centrioles) at each pole. The new equatorial metaphase plate is rotated by 90 degrees when compared to meiosis I, perpendicular to the previous plate.

This is followed by anaphase II, where the centromeres are cleaved, allowing microtubules attached to the kinetochores to pull the sister chromatids apart. The sister chromatids by convention are now called sister chromosomes as they move toward opposing poles.

The process ends with telophase II, which is similar to telophase I, and is marked by uncoiling and lengthening of the chromosomes and the disappearance of the spindle. Nuclear envelopes reform and cleavage or cell wall formation eventually produces a total of four daughter cells, each with a haploid set of chromosomes. Meiosis is now complete and ends up with four new daughter cells.

[edit] The Significance of Meiosis

Meiosis facilitates stable sexual reproduction. Without the halving of ploidy, or chromosome count, fertilization would result in zygotes that have twice the number of chromosomes as the zygotes from the previous generation. Successive generations would have an exponential increase in chromosome count. In organisms that are normally diploid, polyploidy, the state of having three or more sets of chromosomes, results in extreme developmental abnormalities or lethality [4]. Polyploidy is poorly tolerated in most animal species. Plants, however, regularly produce fertile, viable polyploids. Polyploidy has been implicated as an important mechanism in plant speciation.

Most importantly, recombination and independent assortment of homologous chromosomes allow for a greater diversity of genotypes in the population. This produces genetic variation in gametes that promote genetic and phenotypic variation in a population of offspring.

[edit] Nondisjunction

The normal separation of chromosomes in meiosis I or sister chromatids in meiosis II is termed disjunction. When the separation is not normal, it is called nondisjunction. This results in the production of gametes which have either too many of too few of a particular chromosome, and is a common mechanism for trisomy or monosomy. Nondisjunction can occur in the meiosis I or meiosis II, phases of cellular reproduction, or during mitosis.

This is a cause of several medical conditions in humans (such as):

  • Down Syndrome - trisomy of chromosome 21
  • Patau Syndrome - trisomy of chromosome 13
  • Edward Syndrome - trisomy of chromosome 18
  • Klinefelter Syndrome - extra X chromosomes in males - ie XXY, XXXY, XXXXY
  • Turner Syndrome - lacking of one X chromosome in females - ie XO
  • Triple X syndrome - and extra X chromosome in females
  • XYY Syndrome - an extra Y chromosome in males

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