Suzanne Madgwick

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I investigate the control of metaphase exit, primarily in meiotic cells, but also in mitotic cells. Female meiotic cells have a particularly high frequency of chromosome division error, often resulting in a chromosome imbalance. A comparative study of both types of cell division will not only improve our understanding of their differential control, but also provide further insight into the origins of cell division errors.

My research currently focuses on a novel mechanism of metaphase exit in mammalian oocytes through the first and most error prone of the meiotic divisions. Our experimental approach is to use fluorescently-tagged gene constructs in real time live cell assays. mRNA encoding the required fusion protein is microinjected into oocytes, resulting in a fluorescent signal due to protein expression. Fluorescent expression and mRNA knock down experiments characterise the behaviour of resulting proteins. Of particular interest is the targeting of the maturation promoting factor (MPF) component cyclin B1, which is crucially destroyed to allow chromosomes to segregate. A full understanding of how oocytes progress through cell division will help to explain why female meiotic cells do not have the same capacity to check and repair themselves as healthy mitotic cells do.

Intriguingly, like female meiosis, a failure to correctly regulate chromosome division is a major phenotype of virtually all cancers. Hopefully by investigating features of a cell cycle that appears to allow cells to proliferate despite division errors, my research will be of interest beyond meiosis and to the wider field of cell biology.