Michael Lampson

Associate Professor of Biology and Graduate Chair in Biology
204-I Carolyn Lynch Laboratory
Cell and Developmental Biology

Ph.D., Cornell University, Weill Medical College, 2002

AB, Harvard College, 1994

Research Interests: 

For more information, visit the lab webpage

Within the broad theme of cell division, our research is currently focused in two areas: 

1. Mechanics of cell division, particularly interactions between chromosomes and spindle microtubules and regulation by mitotic kinases.
2. Cell biological principles driving chromosome evolution through biased (i.e., non-Mendelian) chromosome segregation in meiosis. 

Regulation of kinetochore-microtubule interactions is crucial for accurate chromosome segregation and maintenance of genome integrity. We use a variety of experimental approaches to manipulate enzymatic activities, such as kinases, at kinetochores and to measure the effects of these perturbations in living cells. Examples include chemically-induced dimerization to recruit activities to kinetochores with precise temporal control, FRET-based biosensors that report on phosphorylation changes with high temporal and spatial resolution in live cells, and photoactivatable fluorescent proteins to measure protein dynamics. We are also reconstituting a diffusion based signaling mechanism for a key mitotic kinase, Aurora B, from purified components in vitro. We exploit these experimental tools to develop and test mathematical models for kinase signaling and microtubule dynamics. 

A second research area is biased chromosome segregation in meiosis, also known as meiotic drive. Because of the inherent asymmetry of female meiosis, only chromosomes that segregate to the egg go into a gamete. Any bias away from random segregation, in violation of Mendel’s First Law, is therefore under strong positive selection and has significant consequences for centromere and karyotype evolution and for speciation. Despite the importance of the phenomenon, the mechanistic basis for biased segregation is mysterious. We are using Robertsonian fusions in mouse oocytes as a model to understand the cell biological mechanisms underlying meiotic drive, how the direction of drive is determined, and (most intriguingly) how it can switch, leading to dramatic changes in karyotype. Our work provides the first insight into mechanisms underlying meiotic drive in animals and links the basic cell biology of chromosome segregation to karyotype evolution and speciation.

Selected Publications: 

A complete list is available on the lab webpage.

Smoak EM, Stein P, Schultz RM, Lampson MA*, Black BE*. Long-term retention of CENP-A nucleosomes in mammalian oocytes underpins transgenerational inheritance of centromere identity. Current Biology 26(8):1110-6. *Shared corresponding authors.

Zaytsev AV, Segura-Peña D, Godzi M, Calderon A, Ballister ER, Stamatov R, Mayo AM, Peterson L, Black BE, Ataullakhanov FI*, Lampson MA*, Grishchuk EL*. 2016. Bistability of a coupled Aurora B kinase-phosphatase system in cell division. eLife. *Shared corresponding authors.

Chmátal, L, Yang K, Schultz RM, Lampson MA. 2015. Spatial regulation of kinetochore microtubule attachments by destabilization at spindle poles in meiosis I. Current Biology 25(14):1835-41.

Ballister ER, Ayloo S, Chenoweth DM, Lampson MA*, Holzbaur EL*. 2015. Optogenetic control of organelle transport using a photocaged chemical inducer of dimerization. Current Biology 25(10):R407-8. *Shared corresponding authors.

Zhang M, Kothari P, Lampson MA. 2015. Spindle assembly checkpoint acquisition at the mid-blastula transition. PLoS One 10(3):e0119285. 

Ballister ER, Aonbangkhen C, Mayo AM, Lampson MA*, Chenoweth DM*. 2014. Localized light-induced protein dimerization in living cells using a photocaged dimerizer. Nature Communications 5:5475. *Shared corresponding authors.

Chmátal L, Gabrial SI, Mitsainas GP, Martínez-Vargas J, Ventura J, Searle JB, Schultz RM, Lampson MA. 2014. Centromere strength provides the cell biological basis for meiotic drive and karyotype evolution in mice. Current Biology 24(19):2295-300.

Zhang M, Kothari P, Mullins MC, Lampson MA. 2014. Regulation of zygotic genome activation and DNA damage checkpoint acquisition at the mid-blastula transition. Cell Cycle 13(24):3828-38. 

Ballister ER, Riegman M, Lampson MA. 2014. Recruitment of Mad1 to metaphase kinetochores is sufficient to reactivate the mitotic checkpoint. Journal of Cell Biology 204(6):901-8.

Davydenko O, Schultz RM, Lampson MA. 2013. Increased CDK1 activity determines the timing of kinetochore-microtubule attachments in meiosis I. Journal of Cell Biology 202(2):221-9.

Liu D, Davydenko O, Lampson MA. 2012. Polo-like kinase-1 regulates kinetochore-microtubule dynamics and spindle checkpoint silencing. Journal of Cell Biology 198(4):491-9.

Schindler K, Davydenko O, Fram B, Lampson MA*, Schultz RM*. 2012. Maternally-recruited Aurora C kinase is more stable than Aurora B to support mouse oocyte  maturation and early development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109(33):E2215-22 (Cover). *Shared corresponding authors.

Chiang T, Schultz R, Lampson MA. 2012. Meiotic Origins of Maternal Age-Related Aneuploidy. Biology of Reproduction 86(1):1-7.

Wang E, Ballister E, Lampson MA. 2011. Aurora B dynamics at centromeres creates a diffusion-based phosphorylation gradient. Journal of Cell Biology 194(4):539-549 (Cover).

Salimian KJ, Ballister ER, Smoak EM, Wood S, Panchenko T, Lampson MA*, Black BE*. 2011. Feedback Control in Sensing Chromosome Biorientation by the Aurora B Kinase. Current Biology 21(13):1158-65. *Shared corresponding authors.

Lampson MA, Cheeseman IM. 2011. Sensing centromere tension: Aurora B and the regulation of kinetochore function. Trends in Cell Biology 21(3):133-40.

Chiang T, Schultz RM, Lampson MA. 2011. Age-dependent susceptibility of chromosome cohesion to premature separase activation in mouse oocytes. Biology of Reproduction 85(6):1279-83.

Chiang T, Duncan FE, Schindler K, Schultz RM, Lampson MA. 2010. Evidence that weakened centromere cohesion is a leading cause of age-related aneuploidy in oocytes. Current Biology 20(17):1522-8.

Liu D, Vleugel M, Backer CB, Hori T, Fukagawa T, Cheeseman IM, Lampson MA. 2010. Regulated targeting of protein phosphatase 1 to the outer kinetochore by KNL1 opposes Aurora B kinase. Journal of Cell Biology 188(6):809-20 (Cover).

Duncan FE, Chiang T, Schultz RM, Lampson MA. 2009. Evidence that a defective spindle assembly checkpoint is not the primary cause of maternal age-associated aneuploidy in Mouse eggs. Biology of Reproduction 81(4):768-76.

Liu D, Vader G, Vromans MJ, Lampson MA*, Lens SM. 2009. Sensing chromosome bi-orientation by spatial separation of Aurora B kinase from kinetochore substrates. Science323:1350-3. *Corresponding author.

Courses Taught: 

BIOL 121 (Introductory Biology - Molecular Biology of Life)

BIOL 486 / CAMB 486 (Chromosomes and the Cell Cycle)

BIOL 700 (Advanced Topics in Current Biology Research)

Searle Scholar Award        

Other Affiliations: 

Secondary Faculty, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB) Graduate Group

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics (BMB) Graduate Group

American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)

Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR)