- how chromosomes can find their homolog during meiosis,
- the structure and function of the giant protein structure that connects them known as the synaptonemal complex, and
- how paired homologs can segregate from their partners.
Chromosome synapsis, recombination, & segregation
We are highly focused on understanding the process of pairing, with an emphasis on understanding the roles of centromeres and heterochromatin in mediating this process. We are also intent on elucidating the structure and function of the SC and the various roles that it plays in meiosis. Although much is known about the structure and the composition of the SC, critical questions remain regarding its function and the detailed topology of its components.
Why we care so much about this problem: From a basic research perspective we want to understand meiosis because it is the physical basis of Mendel’s Laws. We also know that a knowledge of meiosis will answer the question of how two chromosomes pair. But, in a broader sense, we are aware that improper meiosis is a common cause of miscarriage, impaired fertility, and birth defects in human beings. We know, for example, that the risk of certain kinds of meiotic failures (the generation of trisomies) greatly increases with advancing maternal age. The ability to address these issues, and perhaps someday ameliorate them, will come only when we know what goes “wrong” to cause them – and that can come only when we fully understand how meiosis actually works.
Scott Hawley, Ph.D.
-Investigator and American Cancer Society Research Professor
-Dean Emeritus, The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute
-Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology School of Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center
-Adjunct Professor, School of Biological Science, University of Missouri at Kansas City
I need to do both to live."
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
President, Genetics Society of America
National Academy of Sciences
Chair, NIH NICHD Developmental Biology Subcommittee
Excellence in Education Award - Genetics Society of America
George W. Beadle Award Genetics Society of America
American Cancer Society Excellence in Research Award
University of California, Riverside
University of Washington
Selected Research Papers
Regulation of Polo Kinase by Matrimony Is Required for Cohesin Maintenance during Drosophila melanogaster Female Meiosis
Bonner AM, Hughes SE, Hawley RS. Curr Biol. 2020;30:715-722e713.
X chromosome and autosomal recombination are differentially sensitive to disruptions in SC maintenance
Billmyre KK, Cahoon CK, Heenan GM, Wesley ER, Yu Z, Unruh JR, Takeo S, Hawley RS. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019;116:21641-21650.
The E3 ubiquitin ligase SINA regulates the assembly and disassembly of the synaptonemal complex in Drosophila females
Hughes SE, Hemenway E, Guo F, Yi K, Yu Z, Hawley RS. PLoS Genet. 2019;15:e1008161. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008161.
Narya, a RING finger domain-containing protein, is required for both meiotic DNA double-strand break formation and crossover maturation in Drosophila melanogaster
Lake CM, Nielsen RJ, Bonner AM, Eche S, White-Brown S, McKim KS, Hawley RS. PLoS Genet. 2019;15:e1007886. doi: 1007810.1001371/journal.pgen.1007886.
Reviews, Commentaries, Chapters or Books
Alternative Synaptonemal Complex Structures: Too Much of a Good Thing?
Hughes SE, Hawley RS . Trends Genet. 2020;36(11):833-844. doi:10.1016/j.tig.2020.07.007.
Meiosis: Location, Location, Location, How Crossovers Ensure Segregation
Hughes SE, Hawley RS. Curr Biol. 2020 Apr 6;30(7):R311-R313.
The Human Genome, A User's Guide.
Third ed: Academic Press; 2011.
Drosophila: A Laboratory Handbook
2nd ed. New York: Cold Spring Harbor Press, 2005. 1409 p.
Advanced Genetic Analysis: Finding Meaning in a Genome.
Boston: Blackwell Publishing, 2003. 256 p.
New York: Cold Spring Harbor Press, 2000. 724 p.
Former Undergraduate Research, Nazanin Yeganeh Kazemi, recieves the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Read more
Former Undergraduate Researcher, Emily Wesley, represents UMKC at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol (URD@C)Read more
New postdoc, Spencer Koury, joins the lab from the Phadnis Lab at University of Utah.
Virtual Presentation Link:
Undergraduate Alumnus, Camila Aponte, earns entrance to KU Med school.
Katie Billmyre receives a K99 award
"Identification and Characterization of Breakpoints and Mutations on Drosophila melanogaster Balancer Chromosomes" earns G3 Spotlight.Read more
”Everyone in the Hawley Lab congratulates Camilla and wishes her well!
Want to be an undergraduate intern in the Hawley Lab?
Emily Wesley, UMKC Undergraduate
Emily has worked as an Undergraduate Researcher in the Hawley Lab since January 2018, under the guidance of Dr. Katie Billmyre, a postdoctoral researcher. Recently, Emily completed a published project investigating how genetic background affected synaptonemal complex (SC)maintenance in Drosophila melanogaster. Surprisingly, the genetic background effect worsened when heterozygous for a c(3)G null allele (the transverse filament component of the SC). Additionally, she is working on characterizing a corolla mutant with three deletions in cyclin dependent kinase binding sites. Working as an intern in Dr. Hawley's lab has been an invaluable experience, allowing Emily to fully appreciate the process of scientific discovery. Being able to conduct independent experiments with terrific guidance and mentorship has fostered her curiosity and love of science. Emily would recommend the experience to others who are eager to become closely involved with the research process. She notes that she has gained an abundance of knowledge and skills that will continue to benefit her in a future career in biomedical science. Emily asserts that the Hawley Lab was the best place to begin her career in science and the experiences she has had will serve as a foundation for achieving future goals.
Danny Miller currently is a combined pediatrics and medical genetics resident at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington. Clinically, he is interested in unsolved genetic disorders and how long-read sequencing might be used to both increase the rate of genetic diagnoses and decrease the amount of time it takes to make a genetic diagnosis
Working with Scott Hawley was a dream come true for Nicole. She has noted that she would not be the scientist she is today without the experience in his lab. She still uses genetics as her primary tool of research and is still studying the principles of cell division and meiosis, now as a postdoc. She is currently working as a postdoc at the University of Colorado in Julia Cooper's lab, studying fission yeast telomeres and centromeres. The training she received in the Hawley Lab, not only in scientific method and experimental procedures, such as microscopy and genetics, but generally as a scientist, have lasted her throughout her studies. She notes these skills and preparatory learning will continue to guide her in her future career. Scott taught her to think critically and how to mentor the future generations of scientists (and truly enjoy it), while instilling a love of meiosis, genetics, and science, in general.
Nazanin Yeganeh Kazemi
What we're reading
A sampling of recent literature of special interest to the Hawley Lab, with occasional comments from lab members.
Meiosis: The elusive sister chromatid repair.
Billmyre KK, Hughes SE. Curr Biol. 2021 May 10;31(9):R454-R456. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.03.093. PMID: 33974876.
Origins and mechanisms leading to aneuploidy in human eggs.
Wartosch L, Schindler K, Schuh M, Gruhn JR, Hoffmann ER, McCoy RC, Xing J. Prenat Diagn. 2021 Apr;41(5):620-630. doi: 10.1002/pd.5927. Epub 2021 Mar 22. PMID: 33860956.
The gain or loss of a chromosome-or aneuploidy-acts as one of the major triggers for infertility and pregnancy loss in humans. These chromosomal abnormalities affect more than 40% of eggs in women at both ends of the age spectrum, that is, young girls as well as women of advancing maternal age.
Failure to recombine is a common feature of human oogenesis.
Hassold T, Maylor-Hagen H, Wood A, Gruhn J, Hoffmann E, Broman KW, Hunt P. Am J Hum Genet. 2021 Jan 7;108(1):16-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.11.010. Epub 2020 Dec 10. PMID: 33306948.
Single-Molecule Tracking of Chromatin-Associated Proteins in the C. elegans Gonad.
von Diezmann L, Rog O. J Phys Chem B. 2021 Jun 7. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.1c03040. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34097417.
Let's get physical - mechanisms of crossover interference.
von Diezmann L, Rog O. J Cell Sci. 2021 May 15;134(10):jcs255745. doi: 10.1242/jcs.255745. Epub 2021 May 26. PMID: 34037217.
Meiotic sister chromatid exchanges are rare in C. elegans.
Almanzar DE, Gordon SG, Rog O. Curr Biol. 2021 Apr 12;31(7):1499-1507.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.11.018. Epub 2021 Mar 18. PMID: 33740426 Free article.
Synaptonemal Complex dimerization regulates chromosome alignment and crossover patterning in meiosis.
Gordon SG, Kursel LE, Xu K, Rog O. PLoS Genet. 2021 Mar 17;17(3):e1009205. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009205. eCollection 2021 Mar. PMID: 33730019 Free PMC article.
Meiotic DNA break repair can utilize homolog-independent chromatid templates in C. elegans.
Toraason E, Horacek A, Clark C, Glover ML, Adler VL, Premkumar T, Salagean A, Cole F, Libuda DE. Curr Biol. 2021 Apr 12;31(7):1508-1514.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.03.008. Epub 2021 Mar 18. PMID: 33740427 Free article.
Elevated Temperatures Cause Transposon-Associated DNA Damage in C. elegans Spermatocytes.
Kurhanewicz NA, Dinwiddie D, Bush ZD, Libuda DE. Curr Biol. 2020 Dec 21;30(24):5007-5017.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.09.050. Epub 2020 Oct 15. PMID: 33065011 Free article.
Interested in becoming a member of the Hawley Lab?
For motivated undergraduates, please refer to the Undergraduate Research tab for information on how to become an intern in the lab.
Students with an interest in conducting their PhD thesis work in the Hawley Lab should apply through the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. Doctoral students from other PhD programs should contact Dr. Hawley directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Hawley is accepting applications for independent, ambitious postdoctoral scholars on a rolling basis. To apply, please send a current CV, a brief description of your doctoral research, and a paragraph summarizing what you are most interested in working upon joining the lab.
Stowers Institute for Medical Research
1000 E 50th Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64110