Dept. of Genetics
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Double strand break repair, genetic recombination, chromosome pairing, chromosome segregation, kinesin motor proteins
Meiotic crossing over provides a linkage between homologous chromosomes that directs their segregation at the first meiotic or reductional division. The homologous chromosomes are aligned and held together along their length by the synaptonemal complex (SC) and recombination is initiated with a double strand break (DSB). Repair of the DSBs results in either gene-conversion or crossing over. In the absence of recombination, homologous chromosomes do not segregate properly, resulting in aneuploidy and usually death of the embryo. In certain cases, these aneuploids survive; in humans, this results in syndromes such as Down's, Turner's and Klinefelter's.
Research in the laboratory is directed at understanding meiosis in Drosophila melanogaster females. Our studies include several important aspects of meiotic pathway including: i) the pairing of homologous chromosomes, ii) the initiation of meiotic recombination (DSBs), iii) the repair of DSBs, and iv) the mechanism of homologous chromosomes segregation. These studies include several important and conserved genes such as Spo11, which is required to make meiotic DSBs, Rad51 homologs, which are required to repair DSBs, and kinesin-like proteins, which are motor proteins that function in moving and separating chromosomes at the meiotic divisions. Many of the important genes in this process are also involved in DNA repair or the fidelity of chromosome division in other cell types. Therefore, these studies will likely provide insights into the factors affecting genome stability and cancer in mitotic cells.