Public Engagement

Our team is very proactive in terms of public engagement, working closely with the
Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology’s PE team, as well as developing and delivering our own
activities

Public Engagement 1

Lay summary of our research

A chromosomal DNA molecule can be imagined as a wardrobe packed with clothing. When we
want to move that clothing (i.e. to split/segregate the chromosomes between two daughter cells
during cell division) we put it in a suitcase, in our analogy a mitotic chromosome. Exactly how the
genome is compacted to form mitotic chromosomes is not fully understood. My team will use a
range of experimental approaches to understand how chromosomal DNA is compacted 10,000-fold
and organised by scaffold proteins into rod-shaped mitotic chromosomes. We will also study the
structure and function of the suitcase itself, a layer of proteins and RNA called the chromosome
periphery, and the assembly and disassembly of its handle – the kinetochore. Knowledge obtained
in these studies will help us better understand the process of chromosome segregation, defects of
which cause a range of important human health problems ranging from birth defects to cancer.

In this episode of Active Motif’s Epigenetics Podcast, host Dr. Stefan Dillinger chats with Professor Bill Earnshaw, Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, about his work on the role of non-histone proteins in chromosome structure and function during mitosis.
In this interview, we discuss the story on how centromeric proteins were first identified using sera from human scleroderma patients, how the chromosomal passenger complex was discovered, how condensin I and II work together in chromatin loop formation, and much more!