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Dr Greg Fitzharris
Institute for Women's Health
86-96 Chenies Mews
London
WC1E 6HX
Tel: 0207 6793285
Appointment
  • Lecturer
  • Cell & Developmental Biology
  • Div of Biosciences
  • Faculty of Life Sciences
Research Themes
Research Summary
One of the major causes of pregnancy miscarriage is a defect in the woman's egg which means that the egg has too few or too many chromosomes, known as aneuploidy. This defect arises just before the egg is fertilised, when chromosomes which are no longer required by the egg are separated and discarded in a special cell division called meiosis. Errors in this process are thought to occur in about 10-30% of eggs, and become much more likely as the woman gets older. However, it is not known why this is so common in eggs, or why the problem gets worse as women get older. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning chromosome segregation in oocytes will be crucial if we are to understand the extreme susceptibility of the mammalian oocyte to aneuploidy. Central to chromosome segregation in any cell is the spindle, a transient microtubule-based organelle which gathers, sorts and then dispatches chromosomes to daughter cells. Given the pivotal importance of spindle function in oocyte aneuploidy, it is remarkable how little is known about spindle function in mammalian oocytes. We are particularly focussing on motor proteins which organise spindle microtubules. One current area of investigation is on dynein, a microtubule motor which we recently found plays an important role in determining the architecture of the ooplasm during meiosis (FitzHarris et al, Dev Biol, 2007), and is well known to perform several roles in normal somatic cells, including spindle formation, pole focussing, spindle length determination, and chromosome segregation. Another area of study is the Kinesin-13 family of microtubule-depolymeising proteins, which in somatic cells play key roles including averting aneuploidy. By understanding the mechanistic differences in chromosome segregation between oocytes and other cells we expect to uncover clues as the reasons for the extreme susceptibility of the mammalian oocyte to aneuploidy. This work is currently funded by an MRC NIRG.
Academic Background
2003 PhD Doctor of Philosophy University College London
2000 BSc Bachelor of Science University College London
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