A meiotic checkpoint alters repair partner bias to permit inter-sister repair of persistent DSBs

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Accurate meiotic chromosome segregation critically depends on the formation of inter-homolog crossovers initiated by double-strand breaks (DSBs). Inaccuracies in this process can drive aneuploidy and developmental defects, but how meiotic cells are protected from unscheduled DNA breaks remains unexplored. Here we define a checkpoint response to persistent meiotic DSBs in C. elegans that phosphorylates the synaptonemal complex (SC) to switch repair partner from the homolog to the sister chromatid. A key target of this response is the core SC component SYP-1, which is phosphorylated in response to ionizing radiation (IR) or unrepaired meiotic DSBs. Failure to phosphorylate (syp-16A) or dephosphorylate (syp-16D) SYP-1 in response to DNA damage results in chromosome non-dysjunction, hyper-sensitivity to IR-induced DSBs, and synthetic lethality with loss of brc-1BRCA1. Since BRC-1 is required for inter-sister repair, these observations reveal that checkpoint-dependent SYP-1 phosphorylation safeguards the germline against persistent meiotic DSBs by channelling repair to the sister chromatid.