Research Fellows Directory
Dr Jonathan Baxter
University of Sussex
Maintaining genome stability is essential for normal cellular function. Cellular defects that lead to loss or duplication of genetic information can lead to cell death, cancer or premature aging. In dividing cells maintaining genome stability is a particularly acute problem; every time a cell divides every one of the chromosomes that makes up the genome must be perfectly copied, the two copies must then fully resolved from one other and finally one copy of each and every chromosome transported into each daughter cell.
My research focuses on how the cells ensures that all the intertwines between the two strands of the double helix are removed when the cell copies its chromosomes. Often these single stranded intertwines in the original DNA double helix are converted by the copying machinery into double stranded DNA intertwines. These have to be removed before chromosomes are divided into the daughter cells. In a soon to be published study we show that these types of double stranded intertwines are generated when the replication machinery encounters hard to replicate regions that have distinct protein-DNA structures.
We are also researching how the DNA intertwining that occurs during copying is removed, focusing on the role of the Condensin complex. Condensin is essential for the complete removal of double stranded intertwines and is thought to achieve this by changing the structure of chromosomes. We are working with an world leading research group at the University of Massachusetts to use conformation capture techniques (Hi-C) to examine how condensin changes DNA structure to resolve intertwines.
Although these studies are focused on fundamental processes of cellular biology, there is increasing evidence that knowledge of these areas will help us tackle the escalating human health issues of aging and cancer. Therefore we are constantly examining opportunities whereby our discovery research could impact on these growing societal health issues.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)