Biochemistry & Molecularl Biology
My current research is the study of chromosome segregation in the budding yeastSaccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) using molecular biology and genomic tools. I am interested in understanding how chromosomes attach to spindle microtubules and segregate equally in mitosis. Spindle microtubules attach to the kinetochore which is composed of centromere DNA and associated proteins. There are over 40 kinetochore proteins identified in budding yeast that are grouped into inner, central and outer kinetochore categories. I am specifically interested in understanding the function of the outer kinetochore complexes and how they are regulated.
Most yeast researchers are currently studying basic cell processes using only a few strains of yeast. I will be expanding my research program to study chromosome biology in wine yeast. Interestingly, there are fundamental differences between laboratory yeast and industrial wine yeast. For example, wine yeast are able to grow in very high concentrations of sugar and ethanol which would kill a laboratory strain of yeast. Wine yeast also contain abnormal numbers of chromsomes (aneuploidy) whereas laboratory yeast have equal numbers of chromosomes. I will combine my molecular biology and genomics knowledge from laboratory S. cerevisiae to identify genes important for survival in an industrial growth environment and to study chromosome segregation in wine yeast. Studying aneuploid wine yeast will provide important insight into diseases hallmarked by abnormal chromosome numbers such as Down’s syndrome and cancer.