Eukaryotic cells rely on the dynamic interactions of DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids in order to grow, divide
and respond "intelligently" to environmental and/or developmental cues. All of the information necessary to
carry out these complex functions must be encoded into the genome in a "self-extracting" form. An
understanding of the molecular mechanisms used to extract, express, copy, and protect this information has,
and continues to be, a major goal of biology.
One of the premier organisms used to understand this complexity is the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces
pombe. This unicellular eukaryote provides tremendous experimental advantages that include the ease of
genetic manipulation, the availability of genomics tools, and the capacity to apply advanced biochemistry and
fluorescence microscopy. Research in the lab focuses these tools on the regulatory modules governing the
successful completion of cytokinesis.
Cytokinesis comprises the stage of the cell cycle in which newly segregated chromosomes are irreversibly
separated into independent daughter cells by the mechanical cleavage of the mother cell into two. The
successful completion of cytokinesis requires the intricate interplay of gene products that range from
signalling molecules to elements of the cytoskeleton. Thus, this experimental system provides an excellent
opportunity to increase our understanding of how eukaryotic cells assemble and regulate complex genetic
networks. Through the study of cytokinesis in S. pombe we hope to reveal general themes, or rules of
genetic regulation, that are applicable to the control of genetic pathways across all eukaryotes.
Department of Biology
University of Western Ontario