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Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology

Department of Mechanistic Cell Biology

The goal of our research is to understand how cells maintain genomic stability during meiosis, the specialized cell division that is essential for sexual reproduction. Meiosis-specific events dictate the formation of haploid germ cells (gametes; sperm and egg in most species) from a diploid precursor cell. In most organisms, including humans, the reduction of chromosome number to a haploid complement requires the controlled fragmentation and reshuffling of parental chromosomes. This is achieved by the generation of hundreds of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) and their repair by homologous recombination. Although required for meiotic chromosome segregation and a driving force of genetic diversity and evolution, chromosome reshuffling also jeopardizes the stability of the genome. DNA breaks are non-randomly introduced into the genome; there are so-called DSB hot and cold spots. Certain regions of the genome are particularly at-risk during DSB repair. For example, incorrect recombination within repetitive sequences and within regions close to centromeres often results in genome destabilization and aneuploidy in the gametes. In humans, meiotic genome destabilization and aneuploidy are associated with genetic disorders and birth defects, such as autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome. It is therefore important to define the basic workings of the meiotic program and, specifically, the mechanisms that shape the meiotic DNA break landscape. 


Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology
Department of Mechanistic Cell Biology
Otto-Hahn-Strasse 11
44227 Dortmund
Forschung & Entwicklung
Forschung & Lehre
Klinik & Praxis