For organisms to survive, their cells need to be continuously replenished through cell divisions. It is crucial that cells pass on a complete set of genes every time they divide. This is achieved by the faithful replication of our chromosomes, followed by their equal segregation between daughter cells. Chromosomes are anchored to and distributed by the mitotic spindle, a symmetric bipolar structure, composed of protein fibres called microtubules. The poles of the spindle are formed by centrosomes, specialised organelles that produce and organise microtubules.
Much of our research is focused on the centrosome. A small set of core proteins ensure that the centrosome reproduces each cell cycle once and only once. A further 100 or so components regulate other functions of the organelle ranging from microtubule organisation to ciliogenesis.
Centrosome number and function are strictly regulated within healthy cells, but cancerous cells and tissues often display a multitude of centrosome abnormalities. How such anomalies contribute to tumourigenesis is an important and as yet unresolved question, a key interest of our group.
Centrosomal genes are mutated in developmental diseases leading to microcephaly (small brain) or dwarfism. How and why these mutations impair development is not well understood, and is another We want to understand the role of centrosomes in organismal growth.