Molecular Machines shaping Chromosomes
Cell division is the basis for life. Every time cells divide, they need to ensure that their chromosomes are correctly segregated into the daugther cells. Failures to do so result in aneuploidies, which are hallmarks of most cancer cells and the leading cause for spontaneous miscarriages in humans.
To allow their proper segregation, chromosomes undergo enormous structural changes. Even though the formation and segregation of mitotic chromosomes was first observed more than 125 years ago, the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. The goal of our research is to gain insight into the action of molecular machines that organize chromosomes prior to and during cell divisions.
Recent research has identified a large ring-shaped protein complex named condensin as a central player in shaping and segregating chromosomes. We are investigating the molecular mechanisms of condensin function using a combination of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and, in collaboration, chemical and structural biology. In addition, we are exploring novel approaches to identify additional players that direct the formation of mitotic and meiotic chromosomes.
For most of our studies we take advantage of the budding and fission yeast model systems. The high degree of conservation between not only the proteins involved but also the general principles behind structuring chromosomes makes it very likely that discoveries made in yeast will be of universal significance for all eukaryotes.
Our group is part of the Cell Biology and Biophysics and Structural and Computational Biology Units at EMBL Heidelberg. We invite you to find out more about our research projects and our group on our web pages.
Research in our laboratory is supported by generous funding from
European Molecular Biology Laboratory2007-
German Research Foundation (DFG)
Priority Programme 1384