We use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model system for studying how the cell cycle is regulated and modified in development. One of our major focuses is on female meiosis and the ensuing mitotic cell cycles of early embryogenesis. These two cell cycle programs are very different from each other and from the typical cell cycle. Meiosis involves two modified mitotic divisions without an intervening S-phase. It is the most complex and atypical of all cell divisions, and requires a major retooling of the cell cycle machinery that is as yet not well understood. Female meiosis is under very strict developmental control, stopping and starting at specific stages in response to hormonal and other signals. The early embryonic cell cycle in contrast, is a pared-down, largely unregulated cell cycle, consisting of only S-phase and Mitosis. Though these cell cycle programs are very different from each other, they occur within minutes of each other in a common cytoplasm, utilizing a common pool of cell cycle regulators that are deposited into the egg during oogenesis. These unique constraints mean that cell cycle regulators must be under very sophisticated temporal and spatial control.
We are using a combination of approaches to examine how female meiosis and the early embryonic divisions are regulated. We use classical genetics and transgenic approaches to identify and functionally characterize genes required for meiosis and embryonic mitosis. We use localization studies (immunofluorescence and live imaging using GFP) to follow cell cycle events and to investigate how cell cycle regulators are targeted within the cell in normal (wild type) and in different mutant or transgenic backgrounds. We also use a number of biochemical approaches to assay for specific protein-protein interactions and monitor the activity of specific cell cycle regulators, again in different genetic backgrounds. This combined approach will provide a molecular understanding of how cell cycles are regulated spatially and temporally during development.
Our lab is currently accepting applications for graduate studies at the MSc and PhD level. If you are interested, please contact me by email, firstname.lastname@example.org and include a description of your research interests, a curriculum vitae and a copy of your University transcripts (unofficial versions are fine).