Oocyte-specific pathways that compensate for lack of centrosomes


  • Prof Hiroyuki Ohkura

    University of Edinburgh

Project summary

Transmitting genetic information carried by DNA from generation to generation is fundamental to life. Genes are carried on chromosomes and sophisticated machinery mediates their accurate transmission. However, there is a high incidence of errors in chromosome transmission to human eggs. As a result, 10–30 per cent of all human eggs have an incorrect number of chromosomes. This is a major cause of infertility, miscarriages and birth defects, such as Down’s syndrome. The molecular and genetic basis of this process is still not understood. The machinery that transmits chromosomes to egg cells is distinct from the ones in other cells of the body, but little is known about this specialised machinery.

We aim to find out how this machinery is built and maintained using fruit flies as a model system and taking advantage of genetic similarities between humans and flies. We discovered new pathways important for building and maintaining this specialised machinery and we will investigate how these pathways work at the molecular level, revealing why they are used only for transmitting chromosomes to eggs.

Our studies may provide unique insights into how errors occur in chromosome transmission.