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You have reached the Lénárt Lab at the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.

We are cell biologists generally interested in how cells adapt to the wide diversity of functions in multicellular organisms. Animal cells are built from a remarkably conserved and common set of protein complexes, ‘molecular machines’. It appears that the diversity of cellular functions emerges to a large part from combining these molecular modules in different ways; turning them on at different times and order, and targeting them to diverse cellular locations – somewhat similar to how the same set of Lego bricks can be used to build a fire truck or a pirate ship.

To reveal such principles, we study oocyte meiosis, a form of cell division adapted to the function of producing the fertilizable egg. These divisions occur in the exceptionally large oocyte and are extremely asymmetric in order to retain all stored nutrients for a single egg cell, to support embryonic development. Meiotic divisions are reductional to half the genomic content prior fertilization, and centrioles also need to be eliminated before sperm entry. We want to find out how the cell division machinery adapted to carry out these meiosis-specific functions to produce the fertilizable egg, essential for sexual reproduction of animal species.

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