Major Professor: 

Kelly Dawe

Distinguished Research Professor

What are plant centromeres made of? How are they inherited, what proteins interact with them, and how do they evolve? What are centromeres? For over twelve years our lab has been working through the answers to these questions.lab was founded with the goal of understanding plant kinetochores. We have made good progress mostly by making specific antisera and combining the power of maize cytogenetics with 3D light microscopy. Much of our effort has focused on the inner kinetochore proteins Centromeric Histone H3 (CENH3) and Centromere Protein C (CENP-C), as well as MAD2, a spindle checkpoint protein that localizes to the outer kinetochore. We have worked on a serine-50 phosphorylated form of CENH3, NDC80, and several other kinetochore proteins.

Our long-term goal is to identify the complete collection of inner kinetochore proteins, and to develop a model for how these proteins are organized. We intend to pursue the tried-and-true method of identifying candidate inner kinetochore proteins by homology to animal and yeast counterparts. Co-immunoprecipitation will be an important strategy for demonstrating interactions with other proteins, DNA, and RNA. We are also working on Arabidopsis and novel microscopy-based methods to further this work.

High-resolution microscopy, anti-kinetochore antisera, and maize cytology/genetics will continue to be major assets in our work.