A Program of Research in Population Cytogenetics

Investigator: Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH
Sponsor: Washington State University

Location(s): United States


Maternal meiosis I occurs during fetal ovarian development and describes a process by which pairs of chomosomes separate in an orderly fashion to provide daughter oocytes with an equal number of chomosomes. In order for chromosome pairs to separate and segregate normally, they must first pair and undergo genetic exchange. Abnormal conceptions result from the fertilization of chromosomally abnormal oocytes. Although we know the importance of these meiotic errors in the cause of human chromosome abnormalities, e.g., Down syndrome, we know very little about the mediators and mech-anisms by which chromosome pairs find and recognize each other, and exchange genetic material.

In this proposed study, we will examine how chomosomes find and associate with each other, using molecular cytogenetic techniques. Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) using whole chromosome DNA will "paint the chromosomes of interest" and immunofluorescence technology for DNA-protein associations will potentially identify the mediators of these chromosome reactions. This approach has been successfully applied to male meiosis.

This study will be the first full scale analysis of the mechanisms involved in human female meiosis. Results of this study will provide answers to fundamental biological questions, including:

  1. How does meiosis really happen?
  2. Is the process different for males and females?
  3. Is the process different for different chromosomes?