R. Scott Hawley
Dean and Investigator
The Graduate School
Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Kansas City, MO 64110
1984 Searle Scholar
The Hawley lab has focused on three questions relevant to how meiosis progresses: how chromosomes in Drosophila female cells pair up and swap sequences (recombine), how they separate into two daughter cells at the critical first meiotic division, and how that program including a second division is coordinated, producing eggs, or oocytes, with half the complement of the correct chromosomes.
To address the first, the group defined factors that govern the initiation of homologous chromosomal recombination, a process in which regions of homologous chromosomes pair with each other, and in doing so, become physically locked together. They recently found that a chromosome-binding protein called Trade Embargo defines the first step in initiating recombination, providing clues as to how recombination is initiated.
The group has also used live imaging to watch chromosomes in real time position themselves as meiosis begins, an alignment critical for successful segregation into daughter cells. In related studies they identified how the protein Nod nudges chromosomes into proper alignment prior to that crucial first meiotic division. As Hawley points out, all of Mendelian genetics is explained by the first meiotic division. Finally, the group has shown the egg protein Matrimony controls the timing of a number of critical meiotic events by directly blocking the activity of a kinase called Polo that controls meiotic progression.
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