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The University of Tennessee

College of Arts & Sciences

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Bruce McKee, Ph.D.


Research Statement

Research in my laboratory utilizes the model eukaryote Drosophila to address the mechanisms that underlie meiotic chromosome segregation.  Meiosis is the specialized cell division that generates haploid gametes from diploid precursor cells.  It consists of a “reductional” division (meiosis I) in which homologous chromosomes pair with each other and subsequently segregate to opposite poles, followed by an equational division (meiosis II) in which sister chromatids segregate.  Sexual reproduction depends upon accurate chromosome segregation. Segregation errors, such as nondisjunction or chromosome loss, are a major cause of genetic disease, spontaneous abortion and infertility in humans.  Therefore, a better understanding of chromosome segregation mechanisms would have important implications for human health and fertility.

Our previous research has focused on the homolog segregation pathway in Drosophila male meiosis.  We have been particularly interested in understanding the mechanism of homolog pairing, which is one of the major unsolved problems in meiosis, and in learning how the homologs are stably connected.  Our studies have led to the identification of both cis-acting (pairing sites) and trans-acting (pairing proteins) components of this pathway.  Recently, we have broadened our focus to encompass the mechanism of meiotic sister chromatid cohesion, and have identified two novel cohesion proteins that have important functions in both meiosis I and II.  We have also initiated studies of the regulation of recombination in both male and female meiosis and have identified genes required for prevention of crossing-over between the repeated rRNA genes and for the prevention of meiotic sister-chromatid crossing-over.

Selected Publications

Tsai, J. H., and McKee, B. D. (2011) J Cell Sci 124, 1955-1963. "Homologous pairing and the role of pairing centers in meiosis"

Tsai, J. H., Yan, R., and McKee, B. D. (2100) Chromosoma 120, 335-351. "Homolog pairing and sister chromatid cohesion in heterochromatin in Drosophila male meiosis I"

Yan, R., Thomas, S. E., Tsai, J. H., Yamada, Y., and McKee, B. D. (2010) J Cell Biol 188, 335-349. "SOLO: a meiotic protein required for centromere cohesion, coorientation, and SMC1 localization in Drosophila melanogaster"

McKee, B. D. (2009) Genome Dyn 5, 56-68."Homolog pairing and segregation in Drosophila meiosis"

Thomas, S. E., and McKee, B. D. (2009) Methods Mol Biol 558, 217-234. "Analysis of chromosome dynamics and chromosomal proteins in Drosophila spermatocytes"

Thomas SE, McKee BD (2007).  Meiotic pairing and disjunction of mini-X chromosomes in Drosophila is mediated by 240bp rDNA repeats and the homolog conjunction proteins SNM and MNM.  Genetics, published ahead of print July 29, 2007, PMID: 17660566.

Soltani-Bejnood M, Thomas SE, Villeneuve L, Schwartz K, Hong C, McKee BD (2007).  Role of the mod(mdg4) common region in homolog segregation in Drosophila.  Genetics 176: 161-180.

Thomas SE, Soltani-Bejnood M, Roth P, Dorn R, Logsdon J, McKee BD (2005).  Identification of two proteins required for conjunction and regular segregation of achiasmate homologs in Drosophila male meiosis.  Cell 123: 555-568.

Yoo S, McKee BD (2005) Functional analysis of the Drosophila Rad51 gene in repair of DNA damage and meiotic chromosome segregation.  DNA Repair 4: 231-242. 

McKee BD (2004)  Homologous pairing and chromosome dynamics in meiosis and mitosis.  Biochimica et biophysica acta 1677: 165-180.
Stapleton W, Das S, McKee BD (2001) A role of the Drosophila homeless gene in repression of Stellate in male meiosis.  Chromosoma 110:  228-240.

McKee BD, Satter MT (1996).  Structure of the Y chromosomal Su (Ste) locus in Drosophila melanogaster and evidence for localized recombination among repeats.  Genetics 142:  149-161.

McKee BD, Handel MA (1993).  Sex chromosomes, recombination and chromatin conformation. Chromosoma 102: 71-80.

McKee BD, Karpen GH (1990).  Drosophila ribosomal RNA genes function as an X-Y meiotic pairing site. Cell 61:  61-72.

Beth Mullin, Ph.D


Contact Information

Room M-407
Walters Life Sciences
Phone: (865) 974-4068

Room E-202
Walters Life Sciences
Phone: (865) 974-3782