Dr. Mark Alliegro is a cell biologist with a background in biochemistry and molecular biology. He is interested in the genesis of the cell division center (the centrosome in animal cells and its functional equivalents in others), both in the living cell and from an evolutionary standpoint.
Biogenesis of the cell division center is of clear biomedical importance because it regulates the timing of the cell cycle as well as progression through the steps of normal chromosome segregation. At the same time, understanding the composition and dynamics of the centrosome will help us to understand evolutionary relationships between the prokaryotic and eukaryotic worlds. Dr. Alliegro’s laboratory is credited with demonstrating the presence of nucleic acids in centrosomes, a long- and hotly-debated issue.
To study the physiology and evolution of the centrosome, the Alliegro lab has developed a unique set of probes and approaches concentrating on the role of ribonucleoprotein complexes. These tools have already shown us that elements of the centrosome are derived from an enigmatic nuclear compartment known as the nucleolinus. High-throughput sequencing and analysis of unique libraries of centrosome- and nucleolinar-associated RNAs will enable the lab to evaluate the biological function and evolutionary relationships of these molecules.