Karen F. Oegema, Ph.D.


Karen F. Oegema, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
University of California, San Diego
CMM-East 3053
9500 Gilman Drive
City, State, ZIP
La Jolla, CA 92093-0660
(858) 552-4920 x7822
[email protected]
Research field
Cell Biology
Award year


The Oegema lab is focused on understanding the role of the cytoskeleton in the morphogenetic transformations required for cell division. Specifically, they are using the early embryo of the soil nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, as a model system because of the advantages it offers for the molecular analysis of mitosis. They are combining RNAi-based functional genomics with single-cell high-resolution microscopy assays and biochemical characterization of native protein complexes to study two aspects of cell division: (1) Centrosome duplication and the regulation of centrosome size, and (2) Cleavage furrow assembly and membrane dynamics during cytokinesis. Both centrosomes and cleavage furrows are required to ensure that daughter cells accurately inherit the genome during cell division. Abnormalities in centrosome number and structure are a common feature of many cancer cells, suggesting that decoupling of centrosome duplication from the cell cycle is likely to contribute to the generation of aneuploidy during tumorigenesis. Current data also supports the existence of tight links between cytokinesis, regulation of the actin cytoskeleton, and the development and metastasis of cancer. Thus, the molecular analysis of centrosome function and cytokinesis is likely to contribute to our understanding of the genesis of cancer.

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