Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sarit Smolikove, assistant professor in biology, has been awarded a $555,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study a protein structure necessary for fertility.

The process of meiosis, a specialized type of cell division that reduces the chromosome number by half and leads to gamete formation, is a prerequisite for sexual reproduction. Accurate chromosome segregation in meiosis requires the formation of the synaptonemal complex (SC), a structure that is necessary for fertility. Defects in these processes are associated with infertility and developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome. Smolikove will focus on studying the molecular mechanisms regulating SC assembly via the control of protein aggregation.

“Our research provides evidence that controlling protein aggregation is required for fertility, supporting the hypothesis that protein aggregation may be part of a normal cellular process,” says Smolikove.

Smolikove and her research team have identified a pathway involving post-translational modifications that regulates the assembly of the SC. In the future, Smolikove hopes to identify additional components of this pathway and the specific protein marks that are required for SC assembly. For more information on Smolikove’s research, please visit her lab website.