Tag: Evolution + Development

Laboratory “Theme Park” Re-creates RNA World for Study

August 26, 2003

Rarely, if ever, are theme parks built around a biological theme – and never do such parks fit inside a test tube. Almost never. Scientist David Bartel is hard at work on what might seem an impossibility – a microscopic theme park whose motif, the origins of life, is of equal interest to both scientists and philosophers.

Illustration of chromosome

Rumors of Male Chromosome's Demise Greatly Exaggerated, Study Finds

June 18, 2003

In the biological battle between the sexes, the Y chromosome has suffered defeat after defeat. The male-determining chromosome has seen its gene supply shrink from more than 1,000 genes when sex chromosomes first evolved, to what scientists once thought was only a handful of genes, a downward trend predicted to continue until the Y disappeared altogether.

Scientists Sequence Male Infertility Region on Y Chromosome

November 16, 2001

In a tour de force in genomics, researchers led by the Whitehead Institute and the Washington University School of Medicine in St.Louis, Missouri, have sequenced and analyzed one of the most complicated terrains of the human genome. This region on the male sex (Y) chromosome, called AZFc, is important for sperm production and, when lost, causes male infertility.

Genoscope and Whitehead Announce the Draft Sequence of the Tetraodon Puffer Fish Genome

October 26, 2001

Chalking up another victory for comparative genomics, researchers from Genoscope (The French National Sequencing Center) in Paris, France, and the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research today announced that they have produced a six-fold sequence coverage of Tetraodon nigroviridis, a type of puffer fish whose genome is estimated to be 380 million DNA letters long.

New Finding Accelerates Discovery of Disease Genes and Human Population History

May 9, 2001

In an exciting new development, scientists at the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research have found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in northern Europeans—the single letter DNA differences that underlie disease susceptibility and individual variation—travel together in blocks that are much larger than previously thought. The finding has major implications for mapping disease genes and dissecting human population history.

The Masculinization of the X Chromosome: Many Genes for Early Male Sperm Production Reside on the X Chromosome

March 29, 2001

In an entirely counterintuitive result, scientists have found that nearly half of all genes related to the earliest stages of sperm production reside not on the male sex (Y) chromosome as expected, but on the X chromosome, a chromosome universally thought of as the female sex chromosome.

Scientists Create First Animal Model of Rett Syndrome

March 2, 2001

Researchers from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have created the long-awaited animal model for Rett syndrome, one of the most common causes of mental retardation in females with an incidence of 1 in 10,000–15,000. The transgenic mouse model sheds much-needed light on the underlying mechanism of the disease and suggests a new reason for hope in the research toward therapies.

Scientists Show Cloning Can Turn Back Developmental Clock and Faithfully Reproduce X-Inactivation

November 23, 2000

Settling a hotly debated issue in the field of cloning, a team of researchers from the Whitehead Institute and the University of Hawaii has shown that the egg can reset the developmental clock of a female adult cell, first reversing and then faithfully reproducing an early genetic event called X-inactivation. X-inactivation is a process by which one of two X chromosomes in female embryos is randomly silenced during development.

Men are not in Driver's Seat of Human Evolution

August 9, 2000

For more than half a century, the field of human genetics has harbored a gender bias about the relative contribution of males versus females to human evolution. Since 1947, when biologist J.B.S Haldane suggested that the rate of genetic mutation is much higher in the male germ line than in the female germ line, geneticists have credited males with much of the evolutionary changes that occurred in the 5 million years since human ancestors departed from chimpanzees.

Tracing the Evolution of Sex Chromosomes

October 29, 1999

Of the 46 human chromosomes, 44 are members of identical pairs. But two—the X and the Y—stand apart because they have no perfect match. Nevertheless, evolution has charged these two genetic loners with the critical task of sex determination: embryos with two X chromosomes develop into females, while embryos with an X and a Y chromosome develop into males.

Transmitting Infertility from Father to Son

July 1, 1999

Genetic studies at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have shown that some boys will be infertile as adults because they have inherited a genetic defect from their fathers through a commonly used method of assisted reproduction known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

New Gene May Help Scientists Understand More About How the Body Grows

April 3, 1999

Scientists at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Genetics Institute, Inc. have identified a new gene called derriere that plays a key role in the development of the frog embryo from the neck down, including the neural tube and the muscles flanking the spinal cord. Embryos lacking derriere gene function developed normal heads but only had disorganized tissue where the trunk and tail should have been. Scientists conclude that derriere controls the formation of the posterior regions of the embryo-that is, the entire body from the neck down.

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