Susan Strome is a developmental geneticist recognized for her research on mechanisms that specify and protect the identity of germ cells. After Strome’s discovery of -germ granules- in C. elegans, her lab illuminated how the granules are assembled and segregated to the germ lineage during embryogenesis. The Strome lab subsequently discovered the MES chromatin regulators and illuminated how they transmit an epigenetic memory of gene expression patterns from parental germ cells to germ cells in offspring. Strome was born and grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of New Mexico and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle, training with Elton T. Young. She did her postdoctoral training in developmental genetics in the lab of William B. Wood at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she began studying germ cell development. She joined the faculty at Indiana University in 1984 and moved her lab to the University of California Santa Cruz in 2007. She is a distinguished professor, a devoted and honored teacher, and a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Susan Strome and her research team investigate how cells in metazoans are instructed to develop as germ cells and how their germline fate is protected. Germ cells have a special mission, to produce gametes and entire new organisms generation after generation. Using C. elegans as a model, the Strome research group has established new paradigms for regulating specification and maintenance of germ cells. During embryogenesis, the chromatin regulators MES-4 and MES-2/MES-3/MES-6 (PRC2) epigenetically transmit a memory of germline from parental germ cells to germ cells in offspring. When this memory is compromised, the germ cells in offspring show germ-toward-soma transformations. When this memory is absent, the germ cells in offspring die. The MES proteins can promote germline development even of somatic cells, but another set of chromatin regulators including the DRM complex antagonizes germline fate in the soma. As germ cells develop, perinuclear ?germ granules? protect germline fate by antagonizing somatic fate. The Strome lab?s current research focus is on elucidating how chromatin regulators promote proper germ cell development, prevent germ-toward-soma transformations, and protect germline immortality.

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Primary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology

Secondary Section

Section 26: Genetics