Avoiding aneuploidy - how do cells maintain the correct chromosome number?

Project Description : 

Our research focus is cell division, a fundamental biological process. Cell division is complex with many opportunities for errors to occur. One potentially devastating outcome of errors in cell division is aneuploidy, which is defined by cells getting an incorrect number of chromosomes. Aneuploidy causes genetic disorders such as Down's Syndrome and has been implicated in tumorigenesis, tumor evolution and cancer metastasis.

In the past several years the Maresca lab has characterized and even visualized sub-cellular (aka contained within the cell) gradients of active molecules including: kinases that chemically modify other proteins and motor proteins that walk along cytoskeletal tracks. These activity gradients play a fundamental role in the cell's ability to evenly segregate the genome during cell division.

The proposed project aims to apply molecular biology to build activity sensors, cell culture methods to introduce your sensors into living tissue culture cells, and advanced microscopy approaches to visualize the behavior of the sensors during cell division.

Over the course of this project you will learn how to insert pieces of DNA into expression plasmids using a range of molecular biology techniques including PCR and a powerful technique called isothermal cloning. You will learn how to grow and maintain tissue culture cells under sterile conditions. You will learn how to use very fancy microscopes to conduct quantitative imaging of FRET-based sensors. My expectation is that you will also learn much more about implementing the scientific method to answer fundamental questions in cell biology.

Student Ranks Applicable: 

Hours Per Week: 

Paid: 

Credit Hours: 

Honors Thesis: 

Name of Lab: 

Maresca Lab

Contact Person: 

Professor Maresca

Contact E-mail: 

tmaresca@bio.umass.edu

Lab website: 

https://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/maresca/