Tag: Evolution + Development

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.

X chromosome

Sex chromosome shocker: The “female” X a key contributor to sperm production

July 21, 2013

Painstaking new analysis of the genetic sequence of the X chromosome—long perceived as the “female” counterpart to the male-associated Y chromosome—reveals that large portions of the X have evolved to play a specialized role in sperm production.

Model for a function for Mot3 prion switching in teh repiro-fermentative cycle of wine yeasts

Protective prion keeps yeast cells from going it alone

March 28, 2013

A team of scientists from Whitehead Institute and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has added markedly to the job description of prions as agents of change, identifying a prion capable of triggering a transition in yeast from its conventional single-celled form to a cooperative, multicellular structure. This change, which appears to improve yeast’s chances for survival in the face of hostile environmental conditions, is an epigenetic phenomenon—a heritable alteration brought about without any change to the organism’s underlying genome.

New video depicts human migration across generations

October 18, 2012

A new video created by Whitehead Institute in collaboration with the genealogical website Geni.com shows the births of millions people, from the Middle Ages through the early 20th Century, as single dots on a black background.

Images of planarians, one with eye spots and one missing eye spots due to repression of the ovo gene

Planarians offer a better view of eye development

August 2, 2012

Whitehead Institute researchers have created a complete catalog of genes active in the planarian eye. Several identified genes are known to have versions that play a role in the vertebrate eye, including genes involved in eye development and others associated with age-related macular degeneration and Usher syndrome, a disorder that causes progressive retinal degradation.

Images of zebrafish brain development

Fishing for answers to autism puzzle

June 19, 2012

A team of Whitehead Institute and MIT scientists has shown that zebrafish can be a useful tool for studying the genes that contribute to such disorders.

Microscope image of cNeoblast colonies in an adult planarian

Planarian genes that control stem cell biology identified

March 1, 2012

Despite their unassuming appearance, the planarian flatworms in Whitehead Institute Member Peter Reddien's lab are revealing powerful new insights into the biology of stem cells—insights that may eventually help such cells deliver on a promising role in regenerative medicine.

Image: Y and X chromosomes

Theory of the "rotting" Y chromosome dealt a fatal blow

February 22, 2012

Research on the evolution of the human Y chromosome confirms that the Y—despite arguments to the contrary—has a long, healthy future ahead of it.

Image of a larval fruit fly brain

Brain glia cells increase their DNA content to preserve vital blood-brain barrier

January 13, 2012

Whitehead Institute scientists report that the growing fruit fly brain instructs subperineurial glia (SPG) cells that form the blood-brain barrier to enlarge by creating multiple copies of their genomes in a process known as polyploidization.

Photos of zebrafish heads, one with reduced lincRNA megamind production and an enlarged head, and the other normal megamind production and head size

Long intervening non-coding RNAs play pivotal roles in brain development

December 22, 2011

Whitehead Institute scientists have identified conserved, long intervening non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) that play key roles during brain development in zebrafish, and went on to show that the human versions of these RNAs can substitute for the zebrafish lincRNAs.

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