About Egg-to-Embryo Research
The lab of Professor Keith Jones is located in the School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Our research focuses on female reproduction, and in particular how a healthy egg is made. Eggs have an exceptionally interesting life for a cell biologist: they are made in the foetus, stored in the ovary for months/years, and following hormonal stimulation undergo their meiotic divisions and get ovulated. They finally become an embryo following fusion with a sperm in the female reproductive tract. Their lives are therefore marked by stops and starts in the meiotic divisions (meiosis is the name given to the two cell divisions germ cells go through following DNA replication in order to produce a haploid gamete).
Meiosis is important to study because of its unique nature and the necessity for it to be executed accurately for the continuation of a species. Errors in the meiotic division lead to aneuploid embryos, the leading cause of early pregnancy loss in humans and the cause of Down's Syndrome. Our research uses imaging based techniques (Fluorescent Protein chimeras) to explore this process in real-time. Our approach is to over-express and visualize gene products by tagging them with a toolkit of Fluorescent Proteins (Cyan; Cerulean; Yellow, Green; Venus; and Red Fluorescent Proteins) and knock them out using antisense morpholinos.
Some of the recent research achievements of lab:
- Discovery of the role of Cdh1 in prophase I arrest of oocytes (Reis et al. 2006)
- Discovery of the role played by Cdh1 in preventing aneuploidy in oocytes (Reis et al. 2007)
- Emi2 as a necessary inhibitor of the APC in mature eggs ( Madgwick et al. 2005)
- A new degradation motif in the cell cycle protein Cdc20 ( Reis et al. 2006)