Tag: Genetics + Genomics

Whitehead Founding Member Gerald Fink

Whitehead Institute Founding Member Gerald Fink Receives Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Killian Award

May 16, 2018

The award, which is among MIT’s highest honors, recognizes Fink’s standing as a scientist who has fundamentally changed the way researchers approach biological problems

Image of planarians

New single-cell database to propel biological studies

April 19, 2018

Whitehead team analyzes transcriptomes for roughly 70,000 cells in planarians, creates publicly available database to drive research in a variety of organisms and fields

Illustration of scientist looking at a neuron

Fragile X syndrome neurons restored using CRISPR/Cas9-guided activation strategy

February 15, 2018

Fragile X syndrome is the most frequent cause of intellectual disability in males, affecting 1 out of 3600 boys born. For the first time, researchers at Whitehead Institute have restored activity to the fragile X syndrome gene in affected neurons using a modified CRISPR/Cas9 system they developed.

Picture of a golden root plant

Harnessing nature’s riches

December 19, 2017

With unique sustainable engineering method, a team of Whitehead Institute researchers unlocks the biochemistry needed to synthesize key substance from rare medicinal plant.

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.

Illustration of neighborhoods within DNA loops

New study prompts rethinking transcription factor’s role in control of gene expression

December 7, 2017

Like proteins, genomes must fold appropriately to function properly; some transcription factors provide the structural support

Illustration of scientist picking molecules from a tree

Large-scale approach reveals imperfect actor in plant biotechnology

November 27, 2017

Whitehead researchers detect the chemical ‘mistakes’ of common herbicide-resistance enzyme, successfully re-engineer it for enhanced precision

Growth medium based on human plasma rewires cell metabolism

April 6, 2017

Cultured human cells are the foundation for disease and drug research. Now Whitehead Institute researchers have designed a growth medium that more closely resembles the cells’ environment in the body—and demonstrated that, relative to decades-old recipes that have remained the workhorses of cell culture studies, it significantly alters the cells’ inner workings.

Image of an invasive outgrowth of cancer cells

Biomarker identified for likely aggressive, early stage breast cancer

April 3, 2017

Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a gene that could help clinicians discern which patients have aggressive forms of early stage breast cancer, which could prevent hundreds of thousands of women from undergoing unnecessary treatment and save millions of dollars.

Scientists engineer gene pathway to grow brain organoids with surface folding

January 3, 2017

Whitehead researchers provide insight into a specific gene pathway that appears to regulate the growth, structure, and organization of the human cortex. They also demonstrate that 3D human cerebral organoids--miniature, lab-grown versions of specific brain structures--can be effective in modeling the molecular, cellular, and anatomical processes of human brain development. And they suggest a new path for identifying the cells affected by Zika virus.

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.

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