Tag: Genetics + Genomics

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.

Forks colliding: How DNA breaks during re-replication

June 4, 2015

Leveraging a novel system designed to examine the double-strand DNA breaks that occur as a consequence of gene amplification during DNA replication, Whitehead Institute scientists are bringing new clarity to the causes of such genomic damage. Moreover, because errors arising during DNA replication and gene amplification result in chromosomal abnormalities often found in malignant cells, these new findings may bolster our understandings of certain drivers of cancer progression.

Image of cells with and without RUNX1 turned on

Scientists identify gene required for differentiation of breast stem cells

May 6, 2015

Scientists have applied a new method of analyzing cell states to identify a gene required for breast stem cells to differentiate. This gene, RUNX1, is deregulated or mutated in some leukemias and breast cancers. The novel approach, known as PEACS, could also be used to screen for drugs that activate or inhibit the expression regulators of stem cell differentiation.

Image of brain samples showing gene activity in ischemic areas

Biologists identify brain tumor weakness

April 8, 2015

Biologists at Whitehead Institute and MIT have discovered a vulnerability of brain cancer cells that could be exploited to develop more-effective drugs against brain tumors.

Image of red and white yeast colonies

CRISPR-Cas genome editing of Candida albicans holds promise for overcoming deadly fungal infections

April 3, 2015

Candida albicans is a human pathogen that causes potentially lethal infections in immunocompromised individuals. Efforts to overcome Candida’s innate resistance to many drugs have been thwarted by an absence of tools enabling genetic modifications. Now, using a modified CRISPR-Cas system, Whitehead Institute researchers can edit the fungus’s genome systematically—an approach that could help scientists understand Candida’s unique biology and identify potential drug targets.

Diagram of how Scr7 improves CRISPR/Cas

Refined CRISPR/Cas genome editing accelerates generation of transgenic mice

March 23, 2015

Although the genome editing system known as CRISPR/Cas has revolutionized genetic research in cell lines, its overall efficiency has been relatively poor when used to generate genetically altered animals for disease modeling.  Now Whitehead Institute scientists have altered the approach in a manner that could accelerate the production of mice carrying precise mutations of multiple genes.

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.

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.

Images of cells with normal and abnormal CENP-A deposition

Faithful cell division requires tightly controlled protein placement at the centromeres

July 17, 2014

The protein CENP-A, which is integrated into human DNA at the centromere on each chromosome, has a vital role in cell division. Work from Whitehead Institute Member Iain Cheeseman’s lab describes how the vital and tightly controlled replenishment of CENP-A progresses.

Human red blood cells supported on a glass slide.

Engineered red blood cells could carry precious therapeutic cargo

June 30, 2014

Whitehead Institute scientists have genetically and enzymatically modified red blood cells to carry a range of valuable payloads—from drugs, to vaccines, to imaging agents—for delivery to specific sites throughout the body.


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