Emergent Spindle Properties throughout Differentiation
It is amazing how the size of animal cells ranges in diameter from a few micrometers to more than a millimetre, as in the case of a Xenopus egg. However, little is known about how eukaryotic cells regulate their internal architecture in respect to their cell size. This is a fundamental question that cell biology still needs to answer.
I am particularly interested in how the spindle - a complex machinery that is responsible for chromosome segregation during cell division - scales with cell size. Scaling is particularly important during development and differentiation, processes in which cell size changes dramatically. Here, the length of the metaphase and/or post-anaphase B spindle can vary several-fold among cell types to enable chromosome segregation over different distances.
We now know that microtubule dynamics, nucleation, and transport are critical for setting the proper spindle size. However, the individual contribution of those processes to spindle length remain elusive. During my PhD work, I will study the molecular principles of cellular scaling using embryonic stem cells and their potential to differentiate into many different cell types.