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Hawley Lab

Our lab is passionate about understanding all aspects of meiosis, the specialized cell division of sexually reproductive species.

Research Summary

How do chromosomes separate during meiosis?

Research Areas

Genetics and Genomics, Evolutionary Biology, Molecular and Cell Biology

Organisms

Fruit flies, Silkworms

The Hawley Lab is known for groundbreaking work on meiosis in the fruit fly, Drosophila. Meiosis is a specialized type of cell division required for sexual reproduction. The lab’s studies of egg generation in Drosophila are improving our understanding of how maternal age affects human reproductive capacity due to meiotic anomalies, which often result in miscarriage or birth defects.

Meiosis follows a strict order in which maternal and paternal chromosomes pair up, exchange genetic material, and then separate. Their research addresses: how chromosomes in female fruit flies align and swap genetic information; how they separate into two daughter cells during the first division; and how the second division is coordinated, producing eggs (oocytes) with half the number of chromosomes.

The Hawley Lab has defined factors that govern recombination, a process where chromosomes exchange genetic information. The lab discovered a chromosome-binding protein, Trade Embargo, that governs the first step in initiating recombination. Live imaging is used to observe how chromosomes align as meiosis begins, leading to identification of how the protein Nod nudges chromosomes into proper alignment. The team discovered that the protein, Matrimony, controls the timing of several critical meiotic events by directly blocking the activity of an enzyme controlling meiotic progression.

Principal Investigator

Scott Hawley

Investigator

Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Get to know the lab

Meiosis in Fruit Flies and Silkworms

The lab studies three aspects of chromosome structure and behavior during meiosis: pairing and synapsis, the structure and function of the synaptonemal complex which connects chromosomes, and a fascinating structure known as the recombination nodule. The lab has used the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster extensively to study these processes. They are also now exploring meiosis in silkworms

Featured Publications

Identification and Characterization of Breakpoints and Mutations on Drosophila melanogaster Balancer Chromosomes

Miller DE, Kahsai L, Buddika K, Dixon MJ, Kim BY, Calvi BR, Sokol NS, Hawley RS, Cook KR. G3 (Bethesda). 2020;10:4271-4285.

X chromosome and autosomal recombination are differentially sensitive to disruptions in SC maintenance

Billmyre KK, Cahoon CK, Heenan GM, Wesley ER, Yu Z, Unruh JR, Takeo S, Hawley RS. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019;116:21641-21650.

Superresolution expansion microscopy reveals the three-dimensional organization of the Drosophila synaptonemal complex.

Cahoon CK, Yu Z, Wang Y, Guo F, Unruh JR, Slaughter BD, Hawley RS. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017;114:E6857-E6866.

Whole-Genome Analysis of Individual Meiotic Events in Drosophila melanogaster Reveals That Noncrossover Gene Conversions Are Insensitive to Interference and the Centromere Effect

Miller DE, Smith CB, Kazemi NY, Cockrell AJ, Arvanitakas AV, Blumenstiel JP, Jaspersen SL, Hawley RS. Genetics. 2016;203:159-171.

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