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Nuclear Asynchrony

Genetically identical cells in the absence of any perturbations or stress will take different amounts of time to go through one round of division. We study the molecular roots of this timing variation, a fundamental but not well understood feature of the cell division cycle. We combine genetics, microscopy and computational approaches in several model systems including the filamentous fungus Ashbya and the budding yeast, S. cerevisiae. In the movie below, you can see the multinucleate, filamentous fungus Ashbya gossypii growing under the microscope.  Nuclei are green but have been false colored blue when they divide. Nuclei divide with different timing and independently of their neighbors.  In Ashbya, timing variability in the division cycle exists even in a common cytoplasm. 

Our work on this problem focuses on finding the sources of timing variation and understanding how nuclei can act autonomously in one cytoplasm.  We are developing MATLAB-based tracking methods and spatial statistical approaches to analyze nuclear pedigrees from within timelapse image data.  With these approaches, we are addressing if the sources of timing variation are stochastic or programmed into the cell division cycle.  Quantitative analysis of the position of cell cycle transcripts and diffusion of proteins between nuclei is enabling us to address if nuclei are competing for a common pool of resources or are functionally insulated from one another. 

Last Updated: 5/28/14