Tag: Evolution + Development

Image of mouse spermatocyte, which is the source of retinoic acid

Retinoic acid regulates transitions in mouse sperm production

November 7, 2017

Researchers swimming upstream in reproductive technology work now have important insights into sperm production

Illustration of scientist looking at tree of life including acoel and planarian

Small worm muscles up to reveal ancient body patterning mechanism during regeneration

October 30, 2017

Whitehead Member Peter Reddien has determined that a major function of muscle in planaria and acoels--a small regenerative marine worm auspiciously located on the evolutionary tree as an outgroup to all the rest of the Bilateria--is to serve as the source of instructive positional information for instructing regeneration.

Jaw-dropping research explains mouth formation during embryonic development

August 2, 2016

Whitehead Institute researchers have identified an area in the developing face of embryonic frogs that unzips to form the mouth. The scientists, who named this region the “pre-mouth array”, have also discovered the cellular signaling that triggers its formation. Elucidating this critical aspect of craniofacial development in a model organism enhances understanding of and potential treatment for human facial birth defects.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Graphic summary

Lost in translation? Not when it comes to control of gene expression during Drosophila development

May 29, 2014

The lab of Whitehead Member Terry Orr-Weaver has conducted perhaps the most comprehensive look yet at changes in translation and protein synthesis during a developmental change, using the oocyte-to-embryo transition in Drosophila as a model system. One of the insights from this research is that a surprisingly large number of mRNAs that are translationally regulated.

Photo of girl with hemifacial microsomia (HFM)

Scientists find gene behind a highly prevalent facial anomaly

May 9, 2014

Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a genetic cause of a facial disorder known as hemifacial microsomia (HFM). The researchers find that duplication of the gene OTX2 induces HFM, the second-most common facial anomaly after cleft lip and palate.

Photo: Three-banded panther worm

Three-banded panther worm debuts as a new model in the study of regeneration

April 24, 2014

The lab of Whitehead Institute Member Peter Reddien is introducing the scientific community to the three-banded panther worm (Hofstenia miamia), a small organism with the ability to regenerate any missing body part. As a model, Hofstenia could help further our understanding of regeneration, how its mechanisms have evolved over millennia, and what limits regeneration in other animals, including humans. 

From liability to viability: Genes on the Y chromosome prove essential for male survival

April 23, 2014

The human Y chromosome has over the course of millions of years of evolution managed to preserve a small set of genes that has ensured not only its own survival but also the survival of men. Moreover, the vast majority of these tenacious genes appear to have little if any role in sex determination or sperm production. Taken together, these remarkable finding suggest that because these Y-linked genes are active across the body, they may actually be contributing to differences in disease susceptibility and severity observed between men and women.

Image comparing a surface form and cave form of the fish Astyanax mexicanus

Rapid evolution of novel forms: Environmental change triggers inborn capacity for adaptation

December 12, 2013

A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School and Whitehead Institute report that, at least in the case of one variety of cavefish, one agent of evolutionary change is the heat shock protein known as HSP90.

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