Motivation of the Lab
Credit: Michael Wheelock
We are composed of trillions of cells, which are all derived from a single egg cell. After fertilization, this one cell, containing 46 chromosomes (23 from your mother and 23 from your father), divides a number of times to make up a fully formed human being with trillions of cells. Even in adults, billions of cells are generated each date to replenish dying cells. Except for matured red blood cells, which lack a nucleus, and other specialized cells, most of those cells maintain the same original set of 46 chromosomes. Therefore, a number of mechanisms engage to ensure that each replicated chromosomes are equally distributed to daughter cells every time when a cell divides. However, in most cancer cells, the number and the composition of this chromosome set are drastically changed from the norm. Accumulating lines of evidence strongly suggest that the mechanism supporting the proper chromosome segregation is compromised in those cancer cells, contributing to tumor development.
The long-term goals of the Funabiki lab are:
- To understand the molecular mechanisms and principles that ensure proper chromosome segregation during mitosis.
- To understand the mechanism that causes chromosome missegregation in cancer cells.
- To understand how chromosome missegregation contributes to tumorigenesis.
- To help design therapeutic approaches to selectively eliminate cancer cells without harming most normal cells.