Ünal Lab Research
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We study the principles that control the nuclear and cytoplasmic integrity of gametes.
Gametogenesis is a developmental program in which a precursor germ cell undergoes meiotic cell division and further differentiation to produce mature germ cells, termed gametes. A fundamental question is how the fitness of gametes is ensured during their production such that they contain the appropriate nuclear and cytoplasmic content to make healthy progeny. For instance, when cellular damage is present in germ cells, do mechanisms exist to prevent transmission to the gametes? How is the precise genetic complement distributed to the gametes? Using primarily the budding yeast S. cerevisiae and more recently the roundworm C. elegans as genetic model systems, we are interested in addressing these and related questions by studying gametogenesis in two fundamental frameworks: (1) in the context of aging, with the aim of understanding how gametogenesis counteracts age-induced cellular damage and (2) in the context of meiotic chromosome segregation, with the aim of identifying the mechanisms that ensure correct partitioning of genetic material to produce healthy progeny.