Biological Sciences

Studying the cell biology of budding yeast


Patricia Melloy, Assistant Professor, Biology
Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison campus, and Visiting Research Collaborator, Princeton University


Our lab is interested in understanding what genes control membran?e fission in budding yeast, the same kind of yeast used to make beer or bread.  In particular, we are looking at control of nuclear envelope fission just prior to cytokinesis (the separation of the cytoplasm to form two cells from one cell).  Little is known about the genetic control of nuclear envelope fission in budding yeast.  It is important to understand the regulation of nuclear envelope fission and cytokinesis because similar genes are often found to orchestrate similar events in higher eukaryotes, such as humans.  Also, many different kinds of diseases have been linked to defects in cell division.


In my lab, we conduct research using liquid growth media, flasks and agar plates to maintain yeast cultures, chemicals and other reagents at the lab bench to put fluorescent probes in the budding yeast, and a fluorescence microscopy system to take images and time-lapse movies of the yeast cells.


We use fluorescent probes to follow the nuclear envelope and the nucleus itself in living yeast cells during cell division.  So far, we have found that nuclear envelope fission in budding yeast is not mechanically dependent on cytokinesis.  We have genetic mutants that fail to undergo cytokinesis, but still participate in nuclear envelope fission.  We are now trying to understand what genes are necessary for the nuclear envelope fission event.

We would like to identify genes regulating nuclear envelope fission and then draw parallels between these genes and similar genes in mammalian cells, like human cells.  Ultimately, we would like to understand how organelles and other cellular structures work together to control certain events, like the end of cell division.  Many parts of the cell have been studied in isolation, and now scientists are starting to understand how they might cooperate together on certain events.


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