News Archive

 

Diagrams of DNA "goody bags"

Special chromosomal structures control key genes

October 7, 2014

Scientists have long theorized that the way in which the roughly three meters of DNA in a human cell is packaged to fit within a nuclear space just six microns wide, affects gene expression. Now, Whitehead Institute researchers present the first evidence that DNA structure does indeed have such effects—in this case finding a link between chromosome structure and the expression and repression of key genes.

Image of yeast cells

Scientists develop novel approach to boost biofuel production

October 2, 2014

MIT and Whitehead Institute researchers have identified a new way to boost yeast tolerance to ethanol simply by altering the composition of the medium in which the yeast are grown. They believe this finding could have a significant impact on industrial biofuel production.

Diagram of the Sestrins' role in mTORC1 regulation

New protein players found in key disease-related metabolic pathway

September 25, 2014

Cells rely on the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway—which senses the availability of nutrients—to coordinate their growth with existing environmental conditions. The lab of Whitehead Member David Sabatini has identified a family of proteins that negatively regulate the branch upstream of mTORC1 that senses amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

Diagram of pseudouridylation of mRNA

Scientists discover RNA modifications in some unexpected places

September 15, 2014

Deploying sophisticated high-throughput sequencing technology, dubbed ψ-seq, a team of Whitehead Institute and Broad Institute researchers collaborated on a comprehensive, high-resolution mapping of ψ sites that confirms pseudouridylation, the most common post-transcriptional modification, does indeed occur naturally in mRNA.

Diagram of reprogramming factors in SNEL

New reprogramming factor cocktail produces therapy-grade induced pluripotent stem cells

September 4, 2014

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) may hold the potential to cure damaged nerves, regrow limbs and organs, and perfectly model a patient’s particular disease. Yet these cells can acquire serious genetic and epigenetic abnormalities that lower the cells’ quality and limit their therapeutic usefulness. Now Whitehead Institute researchers have identified a cocktail of reprogramming factors that produces very high quality iPSCs.

Picture of Whitehead Institute

TENURE TRACK FACULTY POSITION AT WHITEHEAD INSTITUTE AND DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

August 26, 2014

The Whitehead Institute and Department of Biology at M.I.T. are seeking an outstanding scientist for a tenure track faculty position at the Assistant Professor level. 

Images of tissue sections from breast cancer patient biopsies

Master heat-shock factor supports reprogramming of normal cells to enable tumor growth and metastasis

July 31, 2014

Long associated with enabling the proliferation of cancer cells, the ancient cellular survival response regulated by Heat-Shock Factor 1 (HSF1) can also turn neighboring cells in their environment into co-conspirators that support malignant progression and metastasis.

Image of iPipet

Innovative scientists update old-school pipetting with new-age technology

July 30, 2014

A team of Whitehead Institute researchers is bringing new levels of efficiency and accuracy to one of the most essential albeit tedious tasks of bench science: pipetting.

Phase and fluorescence images of conventional (primed) human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and naïve human ESCs

Whitehead Institute researchers create “naïve” pluripotent human embryonic stem cells

July 24, 2014

Embryonic stem cell (ESC) research has been hampered by the inability to transfer research and tools from mouse ESC studies to their human counterparts, in part because human ESCs are “primed” and slightly less plastic than the mouse cells. Now researchers in the lab of Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch have discovered how to manipulate and maintain human ESCs into a “naïve” or base pluripotent state similar to that of mouse ESCs without the use of any reprogramming factors.

Implanting beads coated with Bradykinin peptides prevents the abnormal facial phenotypes seen after loss of function in kininogen, part of the Kinin-Kallikreien pathway.

A region and pathway found crucial for facial development in vertebrate embryos

July 17, 2014

A signaling pathway once thought to have little if any role during embryogenesis is a key player in the formation of the front-most portion of developing vertebrate embryos. Moreover, signals emanating from this region—referred to as the “extreme anterior domain” (EAD)—orchestrate the complex choreography that gives rise to proper facial structure.

Images of cells with normal and abnormal CENP-A deposition

Faithful cell division requires tightly controlled protein placement at the centromeres

July 17, 2014

The protein CENP-A, which is integrated into human DNA at the centromere on each chromosome, has a vital role in cell division. Work from Whitehead Institute Member Iain Cheeseman’s lab describes how the vital and tightly controlled replenishment of CENP-A progresses.

Human red blood cells supported on a glass slide.

Engineered red blood cells could carry precious therapeutic cargo

June 30, 2014

Whitehead Institute scientists have genetically and enzymatically modified red blood cells to carry a range of valuable payloads—from drugs, to vaccines, to imaging agents—for delivery to specific sites throughout the body.

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