Dr Elaine Dunleavy
Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry
Dep. Programme Director BSc Genetics & Genomics
SFI President of Ireland Young Researcher Award

Ábhair Spéise

  • Centromere specification and function in the germline 
  • Sperm centromere biology 
  • Chromosome segregation in meiosis and early development 

Achoimre ar Thaighde

We aim to understand germ cell development in the reproductive tissues, the testis and ovary. Germ cells undergo specialised cell divisions, such as meiosis, to ultimately give rise to gametes (eggs and sperm). Defects in egg and sperm development lead to reduced fertility or sterility. Understanding germ cell division and development is critical, as this information can impact on the diagnosis and treatment of human or animal infertility.

A field of fruit fly spermatocytes in which an ATP synthase subunit is depleted leading to defects in DNA organization, imaged using wide field microscopy (DNA is shown in green).
Four fruit fly egg chambers containing germline stem cells, imaged using high resolution confocal microscopy.

Located on each chromosome within the cell nucleus, the centromere plays a key role in cell division. It is the site where the kinetochore assembles to ensure proper chromosome segregation. Rather than DNA sequence, the histone variant CENP-A specifies centromere identity and function in an epigenetic manner.

Fluorescence image of fully differentiated fly sperma nuclei with centromeres marked in green by a GFP-tag and DNA stained red.

A key question in the laboratory is to understand how CENP-A is targeted to and reproducibly incorporated at centromeres in the germ line. We focus on germline stem cells, on spermatocytes undergoing meiosis and on developing sperm.

We use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the cow Bos taurus as model developmental systems, combing genetics, high-resolution cell biology and biochemical approaches.


Centromere, CENP-A, Mitosis, Meiosis, Sperm, Germline Stem Cell, Spermatogenesis, Spermiogenesis, Drosophila melanogaster, Bos taurus 

Croítheichníochtaí Taighde

  • Tissue Preparation
  • Immunofluorescence
  • Fluorescence In-Situ Hybridisation
  • Micreascóipeacht

Baill an Ghrúpa

  • Dr Miriam Stiavnicka (Post-Doc)
  • Dr Dina Malkeyeva (Post-Doc)
  • Federica Modafferi (PhD)
  • Rachel Keegan (PhD)
  • Ben O’Gorman (PhD)

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