Asymmetric division

Jessica Greaney and Teresa Wei
Mammalian oocytes undergo extremely asymmetric divisions producing one large cell (the oocyte) and a very small cell (the polar body). In this way, oocytes reduce their chromosome numbers in preparation for receiving the sperm’s chromosomal contribution at fertilisation whilst at the same time retaining the bulk of cytoplasmic reserves for supporting embryo development. Our lab is interested in understanding how oocytes achieve this remarkable feat and is particularly interested in events occurring after anaphase-onset.

Meiotic cell-cycle regulation and chromosome segregation

Chenxi Zhou
Meiosis involves two sequential nuclear divisions (or M-phases) without an intervening interphase and without nuclear reformation. Our lab is interested in how mammalian oocytes reconfigure the cell-cycle to enable exit from the first meiotic M-phase to occur whilst at the same time averting interphase.

DNA damage and ovarian follicular reserve

Goutham Subramanian
In females, the ovarian follicular reserve is endowed prior to birth. Advancing female age therefore has two major consequences, firstly, a decline in oocyte quality and secondly, a decline in oocyte numbers, eventually culminating in the menopause at an average age of 50 years. In around 1% of women, however, the ovarian follicular reserve becomes prematurely depleted before 40 years of age, so-called premature ovarian insufficiency (POI). Surprisingly, in over 90% of cases of POI the underlying cause remains unknown. Our lab is using transgenic mouse models to better identify novel regulators of the ovarian reserve and potential causes of POI.

Sirtuin-mediated regulation of female fertility

Lancy Iljas
Sirtuins are a family of NAD+-dependent deacetylases with ant-ageing properties. Our lab is using transgenic mouse models to investigate the roles of sirtuins in female fertility and oocyte quality.

Epigenetics and oogenesis

Teresa Wei
Epigenetic modifications (e.g. DNA methylation) alter gene expression patterns independent of changes in DNA sequence. During development, the oocyte’s largely unmethylated genome undergoes highly regulated methylation that is critical for later embryo development. Our lab is using transgenic mouse models to understand how demethylases regulate the oocyte’s epigenetic landscape.

Human oocyte research

We are studying DNA damage in human oocytes obtained from IVF clinics and how the levels of such damage might relate to the chances of IVF success.