News Archive

 

Family of neural-associated RNA-binding proteins found to regulate cell state in breast cancer

December 15, 2014

A widely conserved family of RNA-binding proteins known to be expressed in neural stem cells and other stem cell types has now been shown to play a role in controlling both the state and behavior of breast cancer cells.

Heat-shock protein enables tumor evolution and drug resistance in breast cancer

December 8, 2014

Long known for its ability to help organisms successfully adapt to environmentally stressful conditions, the highly conserved molecular chaperone heat-shock protein 90 (HSP90) also enables estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancers to develop resistance to hormonal therapy.  

Schematic depicting creation of stable induced neural stem cells (iNSCs)

Direct generation of neural stem cells could enable transplantation therapy

November 6, 2014

Induced neural stem cells (iNSCs) hold promise for therapeutic transplantation, but their potential in this capacity has been limited by failed efforts to maintain such cells in their multi-potent NSC state. Now, Whitehead Institute scientists have created iNSCs that remain in the multi-potent state—without ongoing expression of reprogramming factors. This allows the iNSCs to self-renew repeatedly to generate cells in quantities sufficient for therapy.

Detailed depiction of the structure of the mouse Y chromosome

What’s mighty about the mouse? For starters, its massive Y chromosome

October 30, 2014

An exhaustive effort to sequence the mouse Y chromosome reveals a surprisingly large and complex biological beast, at the same time providing remarkable insight into a heated battle for supremacy between mammalian sex chromosomes.

Blocking a fork in the road to DNA replication

October 30, 2014

A team of Whitehead Institute scientists has discovered the surprising manner in which an enigmatic protein known as SUUR acts to control gene copy number during DNA replication. It’s a finding that could shed new light on the formation of fragile genomic regions associated with chromosomal abnormalities.  

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.

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