The Spindle

Chromosome Segregation

The spindle is the paradigmatic self-organizing subcellular structure. It is made of microtubules, proteins which influence microtubule assembly and disassembly, molecular motors and cross-linkers, and a variety of regulating and signaling proteins which modify the activity of these structural components. These constituents are highly dynamic due to ATP and GTP hydrolysis - microtubules continually slide relative to each other, and polymerize and depolymerize in tens of seconds – making the spindle a fundamentally non-equilibrium structure. 

The spindle lies at the heart of cell division. It positions the cleavage plane and segregates the chromosomes. Errors in chromosome segregation have devastating consequences for the daughter cells, and these errors are the primary cause of age-related infertility in women.

We study spindle architecture and dynamics, spindle positioning, chromosome segregation, chromosome segregation errors, and error correction. Working on these issues has led us to research the self-organization of microtubules and molecular motors more generally. We also explore how and why the spindle changes over evolution. We are investigating the hypothesis that chromosome segregation errors in oocytes and early embryos may be caused by metabolic defects.
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Project Members:

Maya Anjur-Dietrich

Maya Anjur-Dietrich

Graduate Student

Applied Physics Department

Will Conway

Will Conway

Graduate Student

Physics Department

Colm Kelleher

Colm Kelleher

Postdoctoral Fellow

Molecular and Cellular Biology Department

Gloria Ha

Gloria Ha

Graduate Student

Systems Biology Department

Hai-Yin Wu

Graduate Student

Physics Department

Bezia Lemma

Graduate Student

Physics Department