Paula Almeida Coelho

In recent years the identification of novel proteins required for centriole assembly and duplication have put the centrosomes back on the map as organelles of central importance. I am interested in unraveling how centrioles can affect cell division in mouse early embryonic development, a project undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz. I am studying centriole de novo formation and the mechanisms that control it in mouse embryos. This animal model has unique characteristics: centriole de novo formation occurs naturally and in the blastocyst stage of development without a centriole template. I am determining exactly when and how centrioles appear and analysing the contribution of Plk4, Sas6, Sas4 in their de novo formation and duplication. During mouse early embryonic development, asymmetric cell divisions are of fundamental importance for the first two fate decisions. I am analysing how acentriolar MTOCs can promote spindle orientation and how cell polarity can influence spindle positioning in both symmetric and asymmetric cell divisions. I am directly analysing how cell polarity proteins like Par3, Par6 and aPKC can interfere with nucleation activity of MTOCs to influence spindle orientation. To this end I am determining the distribution of polarity proteins relative to the spindle and by interfering with expression of such proteins. Areas of interest: Centriole biogenesis Spindle assembly and orientation Cell fate

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