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Centromeres impersonating telomeres, and other surprises about telomeric control of chromosome segregation

Julia Cooper


Dr. Julia Cooper

February 22 at 12:20pm in the Fralin Auditorium, Fralin Hall room 102

Hosted by Dr. S. Hauf


Dr. Julia Cooper earned her B.S. in biology from Emory University and received her Ph.D. in biochemistry/biophysics/genetics from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (now NIDDK and NIAMS), the University of Colorado at Boulder (Howard Hughes Medical Institute), and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London (now Cancer Research UK). For many years, she was leading a group at the London Research Institute/Cancer Research UK before becoming Senior Investigator and Head of the Telomere Biology Section at NIH/NCI. Julia Cooper’s team has uncovered fundamental principles underlying telomere protection, and discovered unforeseen roles for telomeres in promoting the assembly of spindles and centromeres.

The linearity of eukaryotic chromosomes is potentially dangerous, as chromosome ends resemble damage-induced DNA breaks and are therefore vulnerable to degradation and fusion, which provoke genome instability. We study the spectrum and mechanisms of telomere function. Recent discoveries include a mode by which telomerase-negative fission yeast cells use 'generic' heterochromatin to protect chromosome ends. We have also expanded the telomeric repertoire, finding that telomeres control meiotic spindle formation and centromere assembly. These principles apply to proliferating cells as well, as centromeres control the decision to mount mitotic spindle assembly. These studies are widening our view of telomere and centromere function.

Fernández-Álvarez A, Bez C, O'Toole ET, Morphew M, Cooper JP. Mitotic Nuclear Envelope Breakdown and Spindle Nucleation Are Controlled by Interphase Contacts
between Centromeres and the Nuclear Envelope. Dev Cell. 2016 PMID: 27889481.

Hou H, Cooper JP. Stretching, scrambling, piercing and entangling: Challenges for telomeres in mitotic and meiotic chromosome segregation. Differentiation.
2018 PMID: 29413748.


This seminar will be livestreamed on the Fralin YouTube channel, but will not be recorded.