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Mogessie Lab Webpage  

Every human life starts when an egg is fertilised by a sperm. Fertilisation unites two sets of chromosomes, one from each parent, to form a genetically unique embryo. For poorly understood reasons, eggs frequently contain incorrect number of chromosomes. This prevents the formation of healthy embryos and very often leads to embryonic deaths in humans. In order to clinically prevent embryo deaths and spontaneous abortions as well as to treat infertility, it is vital to understand the basic processes that produce heathy eggs inside the body. Recently, we found that actin, one of the dynamic structures that form the skeleton of cells (cytoskeleton), can ensure that eggs contain the correct number of chromosomes before fertilisation (Mogessie and Schuh, Science, 2017). The goal of our research is to reveal how actin prevents the production of eggs that have incorrect number of chromosomes. In particular, we aim to understand how different parts of the cytoskeleton interact with each other during the formation of eggs. We also aim to understand how actin-based structures interact with chromosomes to ensure that only healthy embryos are formed after fertilisation. Finally, we aim to develop techniques for controlling the interaction between actin and chromosomes in human eggs in order to increase the efficiency of forming healthy embryos. Knowledge gained from our research can advance our understanding of developmental disorders such as Down syndrome. To ensure maximum impact of our work, we will ultimately collaborate with clinicians to translate our research findings into infertility treatments and prevention of human diseases that arise from chromosomal abnormalities in early stage embryos.


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