The human body is made up of trillions of cells that exist because of countless successful cycles of cell growth and division during embryo development. These cycles continue during our lifetime to produce cells for tissue renewal and repair. Uncontrolled cell division cycles, however, cause cancer. The Kops group aims to understand how normal division cycles produce healthy, genetically identical cells and how errors in this process contribute to cancer.
We are particularly interested in the processes that ensure correct distribution of our genetic material, the chromosomes during cell division. This is not only fascinating from a molecular perspective (how does a cell do that) and an evolutionary perspective (How has this intricate process evolved and are there meaningful differences between species?) but also has implications for health and disease. Errors in chromosome segregation are a major cause for birth defects and embryonic lethality in humans, and the most common genetic alteration in human tumors is aberrant chromosome numbers, called aneuploidy. Finally, as we and others have shown, errors in chromosome segregation during mitosis have dramatic secondary consequences on genome integrity, including translocations, deletions and chromosome shattering (chromothripsis).