Our lab studies chromosome segregation in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) using molecular biology, genetic
and genomic tools. Studying chromosome segregation using yeast as a model system will provide important insights into diseases hallmarked by abnormal
chromosome numbers such as Down's syndrome and cancer. We are specifically interested in understanding how chromosomes attach to spindle microtubules and
segregate equally during mitosis. Spindle microtubules attach to the multiprotein kinetochore complex which is composed of centromere DNA and associated
proteins. Well over 50 kinetochore proteins have been identified in budding yeast that are grouped into inner, central and outer kinetochore protein complexes
depending on their proximity to centromere DNA. Our research focuses on understanding the function of the highly conserved central kinetochore Ndc80 complex
and is currently funded by the CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) and the MSFHR (Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research).
There are approximately 5,000 nonessential genes in the budding yeast genome that have been systematically deleted by the yeast community. A method
termed Synthetic Genetic Array (SGA) analysis, which was pioneered at the University of Toronto, has been developed which enables yeast researchers to perform
genetic screens using the yeast deletion array. In collaboration with Dr. Brenda Andrews and Dr. Charlie Boone at the University of Toronto, Dr. Kristin Baetz
at the University of Ottawa and Dr. Phil Hieter at the University of British Columbia, we have performed genome-wide SGA screens to identify yeast mutants that
are defective in kinetochore function. We have an exciting list of genes that have a role in chromosome segregation and the biological tools necessary to
decipher their role in this process.