Our research interest: Spatio-Temporal Cell Division Control during Animal Development

Our life starts from a single cell —a fertilized egg that undergoes cell divisions to eventually produce 37.2 trillion cells consisting of our body. In the course of cell proliferation, orientation and timing of cell division need to be orchestrated to ensure proper tissue and organ formation.

During cell division, individual cells in the developing animal receive diverse sets of physical and chemical information/cues. However, the causal relationship between these cues and timing/orientation outcomes of cell division remain largely unknown due to tissue complexity; the important outstanding questions in the field are – how a cell interprets environmental information to specify cell division, and how a cell controls downstream cell division regulators in a context-specific manner? Identification of these core mechanisms will substantially advance our understanding of the regulation of cell division during development.

On top of that, defects in cell division dynamics are often associated with cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and leukemia. Our analysis of multicellular regulations of cell division should determine new mechanisms and regulators of cell division that might be useful to find a cure for cell division anomalies in human diseases.

(frog embryonic division; movie by francischeefilms)

Combined Stacks2

Embryogenesis of nematode Ascaris megalocephala (aka Parascaris equorum) Müller H., 1903
Cell division axes are oriented in diverse angles and timing are different between head and tail to shape embryo.

Our Model System

We primarily use Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system to analyze cell division control; they have invariant cell division orientation and timing among individuals, thereby allowing us to perform single-cell level quantitative analysis of cell division dynamics. Furthermore, core cell division machineries are well-conserved between human and this tiny nematode allowing us to uncover the unified mechanism that rule animal cell division.