Project (Melina Schuh)

Meiosis in mammalian oocytes

Egg and sperm develop in a process called meiosis. Despite its importance, meiosis is still only poorly understood and hence of great interest from a basic research point of view. In addition, it is of medical relevance: depending on the age of the woman, 10% to more than 50% of human eggs are aneuploid due to chromosome segregation errors during the first and second meiotic division. This makes aneuploidy in eggs the most common cause of pregnancy losses and age-related infertility.
Research in the Schuh lab falls into three areas: (i) we investigate how the oocyte’s cytoskeleton drives meiosis, and how defects at the interface between chromosomes and cytoskeletal structures lead to aneuploid eggs and pregnancy loss; (ii) we aim to understand why female fertility declines with advancing maternal age, and to develop methods that will allow more couples to conceive; (iii) we develop new tools to study meiosis in mammalian oocytes in order to open new venues for research for the Department and for the meiosis community.
The work in our laboratory combines several innovative approaches towards understanding the fundamental principles underlying meiosis, including advanced microscopy techniques (such as super-resolution, light sheet, expansion, and focused ion beam electron microscopy), loss-of-function approaches (Trim-Away, RNAi in cultured follicles, and mouse genetics), as well as in vitro ovarian culture and sequencing (including single-cell RNA-seq). Most of our work is carried out in mouse oocytes, which are easily available and can be studied with state-of-the-art molecular biology, genetic and advanced imaging tools. In addition, we are studying selected aspects of meiosis in human oocytes. Moreover, we use bovine and porcine oocytes as model systems for aspects of meiosis that are not well conserved in the mouse. Studies of early embryo development are carried out in bovine embryos, which closely resemble human embryos.
We offer several exciting projects in these areas, which combine computational and experimental work. We are looking for highly motivated students with a background in bioinformatics, cell biology or genetics who are interested in joining our friendly, international and multidisciplinary team.

Homepage Research Group

For more information see for instance:

  • Mammalian oocytes store mRNAs in a mitochondria-associated membraneless compartment.
    Cheng S, Altmeppen G, So C, Welp LM, Penir S, Ruhwedel T, Menelaou K, Harasimov K, Stützer A, Blayney M, Elder K, Möbius W, Urlaub H, Schuh M. Science. 2022 Oct 21;378(6617):eabq4835. doi: 10.1126/science.abq4835. Epub 2022 Oct 21.

  • Aneuploidy in mammalian oocytes and the impact of maternal ageing.
    Charalambous C, Webster A, Schuh M. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2022 Sep 6. doi: 10.1038/s41580-022-00517-3. Online ahead of print. PMID: 36068367 Review.

  • Mechanism of spindle pole organization and instability in human oocytes.
    So C, Menelaou K, Uraji J, Harasimov K, Steyer AM, Seres KB, Bucevičius J, Lukinavičius G, Möbius W, Sibold C, Tandler-Schneider A, Eckel H, Moltrecht R, Blayney M, Elder K, Schuh M. Science. 2022 Feb 11;375(6581):eabj3944. doi: 10.1126/science.abj3944. Epub 2022 Feb 11. PMID: 35143306

  • Parental genome unification is highly error-prone in mammalian embryos.
    Cavazza T, Takeda Y, Politi AZ, Aushev M, Aldag P, Baker C, Choudhary M, Bucevičius J, Lukinavičius G, Elder K, Blayney M, Lucas-Hahn A, Niemann H, Herbert M, Schuh M. Cell. 2021 May 27;184(11):2860-2877.e22. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.04.013. Epub 2021 May 7. PMID: 33964210 Free PMC article.

  • Chromosome errors in human eggs shape natural fertility over reproductive life span.
    Gruhn JR, Zielinska AP, Shukla V, Blanshard R, Capalbo A, Cimadomo D, Nikiforov D, Chan AC, Newnham LJ, Vogel I, Scarica C, Krapchev M, Taylor D, Kristensen SG, Cheng J, Ernst E, Bjørn AB, Colmorn LB, Blayney M, Elder K, Liss J, Hartshorne G, Grøndahl ML, Rienzi L, Ubaldi F, McCoy R, Lukaszuk K, Andersen CY, Schuh M, Hoffmann ER. Science. 2019 Sep 27;365(6460):1466-1469. doi: 10.1126/science.aav7321. PMID: 31604276 Free PMC article.

  • A liquid-like spindle domain promotes acentrosomal spindle assembly in mammalian oocytes.
    So C, Seres KB, Steyer AM, Mönnich E, Clift D, Pejkovska A, Möbius W, Schuh M. Science. 2019 Jun 28;364(6447):eaat9557. doi: 10.1126/science.aat9557. PMID: 31249032 Free PMC article.