We study cell division in the Paliulis lab. We use different arthropod species as my model organisms because of the ease of maintaining laboratory culture and of obtaining good cellular material for experiments.
We are interested in how cells get the different types of cell division (meiosis and mitosis) right, and what happens when they mess it up.
Errors in cell division can lead to birth defects and diseases like cancer. These errors are very rare, and cells put a huge amount of effort into avoiding errors and fixing errors when they do happen. Moths and butterflies, however, have cell divisions in some parts of their bodies that make errors most of the time, seemingly "on purpose." Our aim is to understand how these cells make errors when there are so many controls stopping errors from being made. The ultimate goal is to use this information to understand how the errors that cause diseases are made.
In addition, we study meiosis in the milkweed bug. The milkweed bug has holocentric chromosomes (chromosomes with spindle attachment sites along their entire length). In meiosis, sites on the chromosome are designated as the spindle attachment site, and chromosome separation occurs just like it does in cells with single spindle attachment sites.
However, the sex chromosomes are thought to "re-pair" prior to the second meiotic division. We are interested in understanding how this re-pairing process happens. We also have several projects studying the distinctive processes of cell division in other arthropod species. We hope that understanding these processes will give us a better understanding of cell division as a whole.