On this project Misa Ogura worked with Dr. Yoshinori Watanabe whose laboratory is located in the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Bioscience at the University of Tokyo, Japan. His research on chromosome dynamics is renowned for the discovery of a protein called Shugoshin**, a key element in the regulation of the fidelity in chromosome segregation.
Chromosome segregation is a crucial process in reproduction, the highlight in the lifecycle of organisms in terms of maintaining their own genomic integrity. Meiosis is a type of cell division that can be observed when gametes (eggs and sperms in animals) are produced where a cell has to halve its genome precisely. In humans, the genome is made up of two sets, one from mother and the other from father, of 23 chromosomes (46 in total) so eggs and sperm should have only 23 chromosomes. However there are quite a few cases in which the genome is not equally divided due to problems in chromosome segregation. The abnormality in the chromosome number is called aneuploidy.
Aneuploidy is detrimental to the developmental process and the presence of an extra copy of even one chromosome, in most cases, leads to spontaneous abortions. Individuals with an extra copy of Chromosome 21 develop Down's syndrome. Furthermore, errors in chromosome segregation could lead to various forms of cancer. It is therefore critical to unfold the mysteries of chromosome segregation in order to establish effective methods for prediction, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.