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Dr Binyam Mogessie

Dr Binyam Mogessie

Dr Binyam Mogessie
PhD, BSc

Sir Henry Dale Research Fellow

Area of research

Mechanisms of chromosome segregation in mammalian eggs

Office C49c
Biomedical Sciences Building,
University Walk, Clifton BS8 1TD
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 1595

Summary

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.

Biography

My scientific career started at Jacobs University Bremen (Germany) where I studied Biochemistry and Cell Biology as an undergraduate student. After receiving my BSc in 2007, I moved to the UK and joined the laboratory of Anne Straube as a PhD student first at the Marie Curie Research Institute (Surrey) and later at the Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology (Warwick). During my PhD, I primarily investigated the cellular mechanisms that reorganise the microtubule cytoskeleton during skeletal muscle differentiation. I found that a novel isoform of the microtubule-associated protein MAP4 is required for antiparallel organisation of microtubules in this system (Read). I further studied the role of MAP4 in dividing cells and showed its requirement for accurate mitotic spindle positioning in human cells (Read). After receiving my PhD in 2011 from the Institute of Cancer Research at the University of London, I joined the laboratory of Melina Schuh at the MRC-LMB in Cambridge (and later at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany) where I became interested in the intricate beauty of chromosome segregation in mammalian oocytes. For still poorly understood reasons, chromosome segregation errors are remarkably high in oocytes and lead to aneuploidy, a leading cause of embryo deaths that accounts for nearly 35% of miscarriages. When compatible with life, aneuploidy in embryos often leads to genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome, which affects about 1 in 1,000 live births worldwide. As a postdoc, I found an unexpected function of the actin cytoskeleton in accurate chromosome segregation and prevention of aneuploidy in mammalian eggs (Read). I set up my independent research laboratory in the School of Biochemistry at the beginning of 2018 to build on this recent breakthrough in our understanding of the safety mechanisms that operate in mammalian meiosis. In particular, work in my lab is focused on understanding precisely how the actin cytoskeleton promotes accurate egg development and healthy embryogenesis in mammals. To achieve this, we are applying super-resolution live imaging technologies and cutting-edge biochemical assays to study female meiosis in various model systems ranging from mouse to human oocytes. In the future, knowledge obtained from this research can be exploited to improve the outcomes of assisted human reproduction and fertility treatments.

Keywords

  • Chromosomes
  • kinetochores
  • actin
  • microtubules
  • oocytes
  • eggs
  • zygote
  • embryo
  • aneuploidy

Memberships

Organisations

School of Biochemistry

School of Biochemistry staff

Links

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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