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Molecular and Cellular Biology

Houston, Texas

Image 1: Ovulated mouse cumulus cell oocyte complex immunostained for matrix proteins hyaluronan and versican. By JoAnne Richards, Ph.D.; Image 2: By Yi LI, Ph.D.; Image 3: Mouse oocyte at meiosis I immunostained  for tubulin (red) phosphop38MAPK (green) and DNA (blue). By JoAnne Richards,  Ph.D.;  Image 4: Expanded cumulus cell ooctye ocmplex  immunostained for hyaluronan (red), TSG6 (green) and DAN (blue). By JoAnne  Richards, Ph.D.;  Image 5: Epithelial cells taken from a mouse  mammary gland were cultured in a dish and transduced with a retrovirus  expressing two genes. The green staining shows green fluorescent protein and the red  staining shows progesterone receptor expression. The nucleus of each cell is  stained blue. Photomicrograph taken at 200X magnification.  By Sandra L. Grimm,  Ph.D.; Image 6: Ovarian vasculature (red) is excluded from the granulosa cells (blue) within growing follicles (round structures); Image 7:  Ovulated mouse cumulus cell oocyte  complex immunostained for matrix proteins hyaluronan and versican. By JoAnne Richards, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
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Shelley Sazer, Ph.D.

Shelley Sazer, Ph.D. photoAssociate Professor
Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology


Ph.D.: Stanford University, Palo Alto
Postdoctoral training: University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

Research Interest

Eukaryotic Cell Cycle Regulation in Fission Yeast
Mitosis to Interphase Transition. Our investigations into the mitosis to interphase transition, including chromosome conformation, spindle formation and morphological changes in the nuclear envelope, are based on our characterization of a temperature sensitive mutant, pim1-d1ts, which is defective in all of these processes. pim1 encodes a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the small evolutionarily conserved GTPase spi1/Ran.We are identifying and characterizing the regulators and effectors of this GTPase in order to understand how it influences cell cycle progression. Because Ran influences nucleoytoplasmic transport and other cellular processes by changing the stability of import carrier/cargo complexes we are also using a variety of approaches to identify these cargo proteins.

Nuclear Division. Fission yeast undergo a closed mitosis in which the mitotic spindle forms and elongates within the nucleus, which remains intact during the entire cell cycle. During mitosis the nucleus undergoes a precise sequence of shape changes from round to oblong to peanut to dumbbell before resolving into two daughter nuclei. When the Ran GTPase system is mis-regulated the nuclear envelope breaks as cells enter mitosis. In order to better understand the physical properties of the nucleus in this abnormal situation and during normal division, we are collaborating with a group of physicists to develop a computational model to describe nuclear division and generate testable hypotheses about this process.

The Spindle Checkpoint. The spindle checkpoint is a regulatory network that monitors spindle integrity and the attachment of chromosomes to the spindle. In the presence of defects, the checkpoint system arrests cells at the metaphase to anaphase transition. We have identified two evolutionarily conserved components of this system in fission yeast, Mad2p and Mph1p. We are currently focusing on the identification of novel components of this pathway and the characterization of cells in which the checkpoint system is defective.


(A) Normal nuclear geometric transformations in the cell cycle of fission yeast. In interphase the volume of the nucleus doubles. When mitosis begins, the duplicated SPBs (BLUE) are embedded in the nuclear envelope and as they assume positions on opposite sides of the nucleus(GREEN) nucleate the assembly of microtubules that form the mitotic spindle (RED). As the spindle elongates the initially spherical nucleus is deformed into oval, peanut, and dumbbell shapes before resolving into two spherical daughter nuclei. Cytokinesis then physically separates the nuclei into two individual cells that initiate another round of cell division. (B) Symmetric nuclear division in wild type cells expressing a GFP-tagged nuclear specific reporter protein. (C) Asymmetric nuclear division in pim1-d1 mutant cells expressing a GFP-tagged nuclear specific reporter protein.

Contact Information

Baylor College of Medicine
One Baylor Plaza, Cullen 375A
Houston, TX 77030

Phone: 713-798-4531

Selected Publications

  1. Gonzalez Y, Meerbrey K, Chong J, Torii Y, Padte NN and Sazer S. (2009) Nuclear shape and size in the closed mitosis of fission yeast depends on the Ran GTPase system, the spindle pole body and the endoplasmic reticulum. J. Cell Sci. 122: 2464-2472.
  2. Lim H WG, Huber G, Torii Y, Hirata A, Miller J and Sazer S. (2007). Vesicle-like Biomechanics Governs Important Aspects of Nuclear Geometry in Fission Yeast. PloS ONE Sept 26;2(9):e948.
  3. Sazer S. (2006). New ‘omics tools for Fission Yeast. Nature Biotech 24:789-792.
  4. Umeda M, Izaddoost S, Cushman I, Moore MS and Sazer S. (2005). The fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe has two importin-α proteins, Imp1p and Cut15p, which have common and unique functions in nucleocytoplasmic transport and cell cycle progression. Genetics 171:7-21.
  5. Kadura S, He X, Vanoosthuyse V, Hardwick KG and Sazer S. (2005). The A78V Mutation in the Mad3-like Domain of S pombe Bub1p Perturbs Nuclear Accumulation and Kinetochore Targeting of Bub1p, Bub3p, and Mad3p and Spindle Assembly Checkpoint Function. Mol. Biol. Cell 16:385-395.
  6. Kadura S and Sazer S. (2005). SAC-ing mitotic errors: How the splindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) plays defense against chromosome mis-segregation. Cell Motil. Cytoskel. 61:145-160.
  7. Sazer S. (2005). Nuclear envelope: nuclear pore complexity. Curr. Biol. 15:R23-R26.
  8. Salus SS, Demeter J and Sazer S. (2002). The Ran GTPase system in fission yeast affects microtubules and cytokinesis in cells that are competent for nucleocytoplasmic protein transport. Mol. Cell Biol. 22:8491-8505.
  9. Matynia A, Salus SS and Sazer S. (2002). Three proteins required for early steps in the protein secretory pathway also affect nuclear envelope structure and cell cycle progression in fission yeast. J. Cell Sci. 115:421-431.
  10. Fleig U, Salus SS, Karig I and Sazer S. (2000). The fission yeast ran GTPase is required for microtubule integrity. J. Cell Biol. 151:1101-1111.

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