Biology of Oocyte Meiosis & Embryonic Mitosis

In humans and mammals in general the formation of an egg from an oocyte and the preimplantation development of the embryo occur by subsequent meiotic and early embryonic mitotic divisions, which are very poorly understood, especially because they normally take place deep inside the body. A better understanding of this process is of fundamental importance since errors in oocyte meiosis and early embryonic mitosis are leading causes of infertility and congenital disease in humans that increase with age. We have therefore established mouse oocytes and early embryos as a model system to apply our high-resolution and high-throughput imaging technologies and combine them with rapid loss of function experiments to investigate the molecular mechanism of these crucial cell divisions and understand why they are so error-prone. To be able to observe these very light-sensitive first stages of mammalian life, we are developing new, more light efficient imaging technologies that allow higher resolution analysis at low illumination energy.