Rong Li Lab demonstrates the process of mammalian egg maturation

February 05, 2007

Kansas City, Mo. (Feb. 5, 2007) -- The Rong Li lab team has answered an important question about how mammalian eggs undergo maturation through an intricate process of asymmetric cell division. The team discovered a novel pathway by which chromatin exerts command on the cell membrane to produce a specialized machinery used for cell division.

The paper, "Chromatin-derived signals control asymmetric meiotic cell division in mouse oocytes," will be published in the Feb. 6 issue of Developmental Cell. It examines how mammalian eggs undergo a maturation process to achieve genomic reduction, while maintaining as many useful building blocks as possible for later embryonic development.

"This study provides important clues to the molecular signals used by the chromatin to communicate with the cell membrane in order for the cell division machine to be assembled at the right place," said Rong Li, Ph.D., Investigator. "It also appears that there are significant differences between this cell division process and the studied process occuring in somatic cells. Therefore, the egg system provides an unique paradigm for understanding the basic strategies that mammalian cells use to undergo specialized cell divisions."

"The process of egg maturation is critical for reproduction," said Robb Krumlauf, Ph.D., Scientific Director. "Any mistake in this process can lead to infertility or developmental abnormalities. The Li lab's findings open the door to a better understanding of the molecular basis of cell division during egg maturation in mammalian organisms."
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Contributing authors from the Stowers Institute include Manqi Deng, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, and Praveen Suraneni, Research Technician II. Richard M. Schultz, Ph.D., Patricia Williams Professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, also contributed to the publication.

Dr. Li holds a faculty appointment in Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology at The University of Kansas School of Medicine.

About the Stowers Institute

Housed in a 600,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility on a 10-acre campus in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, the Stowers Institute for Medical Research conducts basic research on fundamental processes of cellular life. Through its commitment to collaborative research and the use of cutting-edge technology, the Institute seeks more effective means of preventing and curing disease. The Institute was founded by Jim and Virginia Stowers, two cancer survivors who have created combined endowments of $2 billion in support of basic research of the highest quality.

Stowers Institute for Medical Research

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