Tag: Epigenetics

Feeding a changing world

December 2, 2020

Maintaining food security in the face of climate change is a complex, multifaceted problem of global importance, and so researchers are tackling it from many different angles. Whitehead Institute Member Mary Gehring is starting to work on ways to engineer crops that can better survive the effects of climate change and continue to produce high yields with high nutritional value.

A good environment for sustainability research: Whitehead Institute scientists work to combat climate change

December 2, 2020

Whitehead Institute primarily focuses on biomedical research, and yet in recent years researchers in several labs here have discovered ways in which their work might contribute to climate resilience and sustainability. Scientists here are applying their skills to problems of climate change and sustainability in medicine, agriculture, and beyond.

Illustration of moths around a light

Signaling factor seeking gene

September 25, 2019

Whitehead Institute researchers have discovered that particular signaling pathways, which transmit environmental cues and effect changes in gene expression, rely on phase-separated condensates to find, occupy, and activate the right genes in each cell type

Illustration of a train on a DNA track between droplets

An emerging view of RNA transcription and splicing

August 7, 2019

Whitehead Institute scientists discover that chemical modification contributes to trafficking between non-membrane-bound compartments that control gene expression

Illustration of egg with sperm swimming toward it

A troubling inheritance

April 9, 2019

Researchers have found that certain epigenetic changes in mice that appear to be inherited by offspring can lead to increased cancer rates

Illustration of scientist and trees

A Fruitful Pursuit: Plant Biology at Whitehead Institute

January 24, 2019

Decades of pioneering plant research at Whitehead Institute have led to biological insights and useful discoveries

Slide of a plant embryo

Plant characteristics shaped by parental conflict

November 19, 2018

Differences in common traits within a plant species, such as seed size, can be determined by more than gene sequence.

Images of Arabidopsis seeds

Small RNA mediates genetic parental conflict in seed endosperm

December 19, 2017

When it comes to gene expression in the endosperm of seeds, gene provenance matters. In this specialized tissue, plants actively strive to keep the expression of genes inherited from the mother versus the father in balance, according to Whitehead Institute scientists.

Image of plants with curled leaves due to lack of gene methylation

Epigenetic rheostat helps uncover how gene regulation is inherited and maintained

December 14, 2017

DNA Methylation—the addition of chemical tags to DNA—typically reduces the expression of methylated genes. Whitehead Institute Member Mary Gehring and her lab have identified a mechanism important for maintaining methylation, that when disrupted, results in the demethylation of large sections of the Arabidopsis plant’s genome.

Diagram of how editing methylation can change cells

Scientists use CRISPR/Cas9 to flip DNA methylation states in vivo

September 22, 2016

Whitehead Institute scientists have deciphered how to use a modified CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system to change genes’ methylation state, thereby activating or silencing those genes. Proper methylation is critical for normal cellular operations and altered methylation has been linked to many diseases, including neurological disorders and cancer.

Image of mouse cerebellum section with cells having different imprinted methylation

Inherited parental methylation shifts over time, may have functional effects in the brain and other tissues

September 20, 2016

Inherited methylation—a form of epigenetic regulation passed down from parents to offspring—is far more dynamic than previously thought and may contribute to changes in the brain and other tissues over time. This finding by Whitehead Institute scientists challenges current understandings of gene regulation via methylation, from development through adulthood.  

New methodology tracks changes in DNA methylation in real time at single-cell resolution

September 24, 2015

Whitehead Institute researchers have developed a tool that allows scientists to monitor changes in DNA methylation over time in individual cells. Certain diseases, including cancer, cause changes in DNA methylation patterns, and the ability to document these alterations could aid in the development of novel therapies.

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