OMRF scientist Susannah Rankin, Ph.D., has received a new 5-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how chromosomes are packaged during cell division.
The grant will fund research into sister chromatid cohesion—how identical chromosomes are tied together until the cell division process.
“Cell division is basic to life,” said Rankin, who joined OMRF in 2006. “If something goes wrong it can alter everything that happens afterward. So understanding how it works and how it occasionally fails is really important.”
Not only is chromosome cohesion important in cell division, it also keeps DNA packaged inside the cell’s nucleus, she said.
“The way our genome works, how chromosomes are packed makes a big difference,” she said. “In order to fit inside the nucleus, DNA has to be wrapped, coiled and looped. It’s not done haphazardly, though—there’s a specific way it’s packaged to make sure everything works, and cohesion is an essential part of this.”
Think about a radio: Even if all the right parts are fit into the box, if they’re not connected in the right way, it won’t work. Or maybe the signal will come through, but it’s too soft or full of static to hear. The same thing happens in DNA, Rankin said.
In order to complete the research, Rankin’s lab has expanded with the hire of Saili Moghe, Ph.D., as a post-doctoral fellow.
Grant No. 1R01GM101250-01A1 is funded through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a part of the NIH.