Investigating the degradation of a kinetochore protein, Ndc80p, during meiosis

Summer 2017

Hanna Liao : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Elçin Ünal

Sexual reproduction in almost all known organisms requires a specialized cell division named meiosis. Errors in this cell division are the leading cause of genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome, miscarriages, and congenital birth defects in humans. To ensure the success of meiosis, chromosomes undergo a dynamic restructuring of their kinetochores, which mediate chromosome segregation. In budding yeast, a single kinetochore subunit named Ndc80p is down-regulated in meiotic prophase to ensure proper meiotic chromosome segregation. Preliminary results by our lab have shown that Ndc80p degradation depends on the proteasome, potentially suggesting an ubiquitin-mediated degradation mechanism. Since the target specificity of this system requires E3 ubiquitin ligases, I aim to screen a subset of known or predicted E3 ligases to identify the one(s) that targets Ndc80p for degradation. Identifying such E3 ligase(s) and studying its regulations in meiosis will contribute to a mechanistic understanding on how cells regulate kinetochore composition to ensure proper meiosis.

To the Rose Hills Foundation: thank you for funding my research over the summer! From participating in SURF, I saw how collaboration is truly the key to pushing science and research forward. Results from previous experiments in scientific literature allowed me to determine the best course of action for my research project, and the feedback I received from the SURF mentors and fellow lab members helped me carry out my research proposal more effectively. In addition, presenting my poster at the SURF conference and learning about the research being done in all different kinds of fields comprised a rewarding end to finish the summer. I feel grateful to have been able to participate in a space where we shared our research progress and celebrated the advancements that the entire SURF cohort has made. Finally, the research I worked on over the summer has uncovered some interesting leads, and my amazing experience with the SURF program has motivated me even more to work hard at elucidating the new questions. Thank you once again for the opportunity I had to immerse myself in this research experience!