Dr Phoebe Jennings
BSc (Molecular Biology and Genetics) (Hons I) University of Sydney 2004
PhD University of Technology, Sydney 2008
My research focuses around meiosis, the specialised reductional division resulting in haploid germ cells. Aneuploidy (having the incorrect number of chromosomes) is often derived from errors during segregation of maternal meiotic divisions, leading to conditions such as Down Syndrome and embryo loss. Indeed as females age, the chance of aneuploidy increases exponentially. Thus it is important to understand how meiosis is controlled at the molecular level. Cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases (cdks) pay key roles in regulating the cellular responses to growth and cell cycle transitions. There is an absolute requirement for cyclin A2 during development and differentiation as its deficiency results in early embryonic lethality. As such, cyclin A2 has not been extensively studied, particularly as to its role in meiosis.
|This image is from a healthy mouse egg, fluorescently labeled to show all 20 chromosomes, you can actually count the 40 purple kinetochores!|
I am also looking into the effects of Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure, a synthetic estrogen that is increasingly thought to be affecting mammalian reproduction through, among other things, an increase in aneuploidy. BPA is a component of plastics and resins widely used in the production of food and drink containers and dental sealants. It leaches into our food and drink at biologically significant concentrations. BPA exposure has been shown to increase aneuploidy in oocytes and at low levels, such as those in our environment, adversely affect the meiotic process. BPA is a chronic presence from fetal and neonatal development well into adulthood with links to miscarriages and ovarian dysfunction.