Elliott W. Abrams, "Cell division mechanics during early vertebrate development"

Jan 28, 2013 (Mon) | 4:00 PM -6:00 PM
393 Serra Mall, Herrin T-175 : Stanford, CA

Specialized mechanics are essential for the unusually large cells of the early embryo to properly undergo nuclear and cytoplasmic divisions. As part of a collaborative effort, I performed a large-scale maternal-effect mutagenesis screen in zebrafish and identified nine mutants that specifically disrupt the cleavage stage of development. Two mutants arrest development around the maternal-zygotic transition, and each has distinct nuclear defects. The remaining seven mutants undergo irregular cleavages immediately following fertilization. For this presentation I will focus primarily on the arrest mutant brambleberry, which exhibits multiple micronuclei throughout the cleavage stage. Positional cloning of brambleberry reveals a previously unannotated gene encoding a protein that functions in nuclear membrane fusion. Since the molecular requirements for in vivo nuclear envelope fusion are mostly unknown, my research provides the foundation for elaborating on more general aspects of this process through both genetic and biochemical approaches. Moreover, the arrest and irregular cleavage mutant phenotypes identified in this genetic screen mirror conditions found in human embryos that fail to produce successful pregnancies when transferred using assisted reproductive technologies.

Department:  Biology

Contact: May Chin | 650-725-1827 | maychin@stanford.edu


  • Elliott W. Abrams University of Pennsylvania