||Our lab studies meiosis, the process that controls female gamete (eggs) formation, with the overall goal of understanding why this process is inherently error prone. In all sexually reproducing animals, mistakes in meiosis can result in the formation of eggs with the wrong number of chromosomes (aneuploidy) and are highly linked to infertility, miscarriage and developmental disorders such as Down Syndrome. A surprising number of eggs (an estimated 5-20%) from reproductively young, healthy women are aneuploid and this incidence increases with maternal age. Little is known, however, about how meiosis in females is regulated.
Signal transduction cascades regulate chromosome segregation in all cell types. When signaling goes awry, the incidence of aneuploidy often increases. We use the mouse oocyte model to study how signaling through protein kinases and protein phosphatases regulates meiosis with the ultimate goal of understanding how this relates to infertility. Perturbations in chromosome segregation are not limited to eggs, as chromosome instability is also a hallmark of cancer cells. Therefore, our work in mouse eggs may also have relevance in understanding the basic cellular mechanisms that give rise to cancer.