Chromosome linearity is so universal among eukaryotes that we assume it to be evolutionarily advantageous despite the challenges posed by chromosome ends, whose resemblance to damage-induced DNA breaks makes them vulnerable to dangerous degradation and fusion reactions. Julia Promisel Cooper’s team has uncovered fundamental principles underlying telomere protection, and discovered unforeseen roles for telomeres in promoting the assembly of spindles and centromeres. These discoveries provide novel rationales for the evolutionary dominance of chromosome linearity. The Cooper lab primarily utilizes the fission yeast S. pombe, which provides manipulability and remarkable conservation and prescience with respect to human chromosome biology.
Julia recently moved from Cancer Research UK in London to head the Telomere Biology Section of the Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the National Cancer Institute.