During meiosis initiation expression of meiotic genes distributed across 46 chromosomes is turned on in a concerted, synchronised fashion. It is still unclear how mammalian cells control and regulate this process across the genome. Our work focuses on uncovering the molecular mechanisms controlling initiation of the meiotic gene expression programme.
When the egg becomes fertilised mitotic divisions begin and meiotic genes are no longer required. In fact expression of meiotic genes responsible for facilitating genome rearrangements and reduction would be detrimental to healthy mitosis. Consequently, meiotic genes need to be silenced across the genome. Our work aims to discover how this process is regulated and synchronised to allow for healthy mitosis.
ABERRANT EXPRESSION OF MEIOTIC GENES IN CANCER
Half of cancer patients aberrantly express meiotic genes. Multiple studies demonstrate that expression of meiotic genes in mitotic cells has oncogenic consequences and contributes to more aggressive disease, relapse and therapy resistance. However, it is unclear why and how cancer cells turn on meiotic genes. In our laboratory we develop novel tools and approaches to answer this question.
ROLE OF MEIOTIC PROTEINS IN CANCER
Meiotic transcriptome and proteome are distinct from that of mitotic cells. This means that when meiotic genes are expressed in mitotic cells resulting proteins can form new complexes and serve novel functions. Consequently, it is important to understand what roles meiotic proteins have in cancer cells to identify if they could serve as therapeutic targets in oncology.
ORIGINS OF MITOTIC CENTROSOMES
Multiple theories have been proposed for how the first mammalian centrosome originates after fertilisation. Our group identified a meiotic protein that could play a role in this transition. Our research focuses on determining the origins of the first mitotic centrosome in humans and clarifying this step of meiotic-to-mitotic transition.