Genetics + Genomics

Once considered genomic “junk,” repetitive sequences in DNA are being discovered to have important roles in our biology. Whitehead Institute researchers are investigating different types of these repeated sequences, from repetitive DNA regions to excessive repeats within genes, in order to understand what roles they play in cells and how they contribute to health and disease.

A new study reveals that the protein MTCH2, which is essential in a variety of cellular processes, is responsible for shuttling various other proteins into the membrane of mitochondria. The finding could have implications for cancer treatments and provides insight into a variety of MTCH2-linked conditions.

Researchers frequently turn to C. elegans to learn about not only their biology, but our own. C. elegans is one of the most intimately understood species in biology—the first animal to have its complete genome sequenced or its neural circuitry completely mapped. How did this simple worm become so well studied and a fixture in laboratories around the world?

A new paper from the lab of Whitehead Institute Director Ruth Lehmann reveals how primordial germ cells in flies migrate from one end of an embryo to the other during development. The work could have implications for how scientists study germ cells in vivo, as well as other motile cells such as cancer cells.