Sadie Wignall Dynamics & mechanics of cell division

Research Interests

Research in the Wignall lab is aimed at exploring how female reproductive cells (oocytes) divide. Chromosome segregation in these cells is highly error-prone compared to other forms of cell division, and these mistakes are the major cause of birth defects and miscarriages in humans. However, the molecular mechanisms driving these important divisions are not well-understood. We are tackling this problem using a variety of cell biological, genetic, and biochemical approaches, including state-of-the-art imaging, CRISPR-mediated mutagenesis, methods for rapid protein depletion, and in vitro reconstitution assays.

Our research is focused in two major areas:

  1. We study a dynamic macromolecular machine, the spindle, which physically separates the chromosomes during cell division. We are interested in understanding how this intricate structure forms and is stabilized, so that it can properly function to partition the genetic material.
  2. To be partitioned correctly, chromosomes must attach to the spindle. We study how chromosome-associated proteins mediate this attachment and drive chromosomal movements during cell division.

Altogether, our goal is to advance our understanding of how genomic integrity is maintained during cell division.

Selected Publications 

Acentrosomal spindle assembly and maintenance in Caenorhabditis elegans oocytes requires a kinesin-12 nonmotor microtubule interaction domain. Wolff ID, Hollis JA, and Wignall SM. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 2022 July 1;33(8):ar71.

Multiple motors cooperate to establish and maintain acentrosomal spindle bipolarity in C. elegans oocyte meiosis. Cavin-Meza G, Kwan MM, and Wignall SM. eLife. 2022 February 11;11:e72872.

A degron-based strategy reveals new insights into Aurora B function in C. elegans. Divekar NS, Davis-Roca AC, Zhang L, Dernburg AF, and Wignall SM. PLoS Genetics. 2021 May 20;17(5):e1009567.

Dynamic SUMO remodeling drives a series of critical events during the meiotic divisions in C. elegans. Davis-Roca AC, Divekar NS, Ng RK, and Wignall SM. PLoS Genetics. 2018 September 4;14(9):e1007626.

Interplay between microtubule bundling and sorting factors ensures acentriolar spindle stability during C. elegans oocyte meiosis. Mullen TJ and Wignall SM. PLoS Genetics. 2017 September 14;13(9):e1006986.

View all publications by Sarah M. Wignall listed in the National Library of Medicine (PubMed).  Current and former IBiS students in blue.