Baltimore, MD— Recently published work from Carnegie’s Allan Spradling and Wanbao Niu revealed in unprecedented detail the genetic instructions immature egg cells go through step by step...
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Baltimore, MD— Recent work led by Carnegie’s Kamena Kostova revealed a new quality control system in the protein production assembly line with possible implications for understanding...
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Coral and legume roots. New staff scientists study symbiosis in these systems.
Baltimore, MD— Carnegie’s Department of Embryology welcomes two new Staff Scientists, both of whom specialize in researching the symbiotic relationships between species. Brittany Belin...
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Experimental zebrafish larvae, courtesy Navid Marvi.
Baltimore, MD—New work led by Carnegie’s Meredith Wilson and Steve Farber identifies a potential therapeutic target for clogged arteries and other health risks that stem from an excess of...
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Xenia in Carnegie's coral facility, courtesy Carnegie Embryology
Baltimore, MD— New work from a team of Carnegie cell, genomic, and developmental biologists solves a longstanding marine science mystery that could aid coral conservation. The researchers...
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Yixian Zheng
Baltimore, MD— Carnegie’s Director of Embryology Yixian Zheng is one of 15 scientists awarded a grant from the...
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Illustration courtesy of Navid Marvi and Andres Aranda-Diaz.
Baltimore, MD—Antibiotics can make easy work of infections. But how do they affect the complex ecosystems of friendly bacteria that make up our microbiome? “When a doctor prescribes...
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Bellymount allows researchers to peer into the live tissue of the fruit fly gut.
Baltimore, MD— They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. But what about a real-time window into the complexity of the gastrointestinal system?  A new research tool allowed biologists to...
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Approximately half of the gene sequences of human and mouse genomes comes from so-called mobile elements—genes that jump around the genome. Much of this DNA is no longer capable of moving, but is likely “auditioning”  perhaps as a regulator of gene function or in homologous...
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The Spradling laboratory studies the biology of reproduction. By unknown means eggs reset the normally irreversible processes of differentiation and aging. The fruit fly Drosophila provides a favorable multicellular system for molecular genetic studies. The lab focuses on several aspects of egg...
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The Gall laboratory studies all aspects of the cell nucleus, particularly the structure of chromosomes, the transcription and processing of RNA, and the role of bodies inside the cell nucleus, especially the Cajal body (CB) and the histone locus body (HLB). Much of the work makes use of the giant...
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Phillip Cleves’ Ph.D. research was on determining the genetic changes that drive morphological evolution. He used the emerging model organism, the stickleback fish, to map genetic changes that control skeletal evolution. Using new genetic mapping and reverse genetic tools developed during his...
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Frederick Tan holds a unique position at Embryology in this era of high-throughput sequencing where determining DNA and RNA sequences has become one of the most powerful technologies in biology. DNA provides the basic code shared by all our cells to program our development. While there are about 30...
Meet this Scientist
The first step in gene expression is the formation of an RNA copy of its DNA. This step, called transcription, takes place in the cell nucleus. Transcription requires an enzyme called RNA polymerase to catalyze the synthesis of the RNA from the DNA template. This, in addition to other processing...
Meet this Scientist
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Body organs such as the intestine and ovaries undergo structural changes in response to dietary nutrients that can have lasting impacts on metabolism, as well as cancer susceptibility, according to...
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Almost half of our DNA is made up of jumping genes, moving around the genome in developing sperm and egg cells. Given their ability to jump around the genome, their invasion can trigger DNA...
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New work led by Carnegie’s Steven Farber, with help from Yixian Zheng’s lab, sheds light on how form follows function for intestinal cells responding to high-fat foods that are rich in...
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Explore Carnegie Science

October 8, 2020

Baltimore, MD— Recently published work from Carnegie’s Allan Spradling and Wanbao Niu revealed in unprecedented detail the genetic instructions immature egg cells go through step by step as they mature into functionality. Their findings improve our understanding of how ovaries maintain a female’s fertility.

The general outline of how immature egg cells are assisted by specific ovarian helper cells starting even before a female is born is well understood. But Spradling and Niu mapped the gene activity of thousands of immature egg cells and helper cells to learn how the stage is set for fertility later in life.

Even before birth, "germ" cells

October 8, 2020

Baltimore, MD— Recent work led by Carnegie’s Kamena Kostova revealed a new quality control system in the protein production assembly line with possible implications for understanding neurogenerative disease.

The DNA that comprises the chromosomes housed in each cell’s nucleus encodes the recipes for how to make proteins, which are responsible for the majority of the physiological actions that sustain life. Individual recipes are transcribed using messenger RNA, which carries this piece of code to a piece of cellular machinery called the ribosome. The ribosome translates the message into amino acids—the building blocks of proteins.

But sometimes

Coral and legume roots. New staff scientists study symbiosis in these systems.
August 19, 2020

Baltimore, MD— Carnegie’s Department of Embryology welcomes two new Staff Scientists, both of whom specialize in researching the symbiotic relationships between species.

Brittany Belin joined Carnegie this month from Caltech and Phillip Cleves will arrive in September from Stanford University. Although their work approaches the issue using different organisms, their investigations are important to understanding survival mechanisms in the increasingly stressful conditions caused by climate change.

Belin’s postdoctoral research focused on soil bacteria called rhizobia, which form symbiotic relationships with legumes such as soybeans and alfalfa. The microbes

Experimental zebrafish larvae, courtesy Navid Marvi.
August 7, 2020

Baltimore, MD—New work led by Carnegie’s Meredith Wilson and Steve Farber identifies a potential therapeutic target for clogged arteries and other health risks that stem from an excess of harmful fats in the bloodstream.  Their findings are published by PLOS Genetics. 

“Cardiovascular disease occurs when lipids from the blood plasma are deposited in the walls of blood vessels, ultimately restricting blood flow,” explained Farber, who specializes in elucidating how cells process lipids. “This complex disease affects about a third of the world’s population, so improving our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the levels of

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The Marnie Halpern laboratory studies how left-right differences arise in the developing brain and discovers the genes that control this asymmetry. Using the tiny zebrafish, Danio rerio, they explores how regional specializations occur within the neural tube, the embryonic tissue that develops into the brain and spinal cord.

The zebrafish is ideal for these studies because its basic body plan is set within 24 hours of fertilization. By day five, young larvae are able to feed and swim, and within three months they are ready to reproduce. They are also prolific breeders. Most importantly the embryos are transparent, allowing scientists to watch the nervous system develop and to

In mammals, most lipids, such as fatty acids and cholesterol, are absorbed into the body via the small intestine. The complexity of the cells and fluids that inhabit this organ make it very difficult to study in a laboratory setting. The goal of the Farber lab is to better understand the cell and molecular biology of lipids within digestive organs by exploiting the many unique attributes of the clear zebrafish larva  to visualize lipid uptake and processing in real time.  Given their utmost necessity for proper cellular function, it is not surprising that defects in lipid metabolism underlie a number of human diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.

Approximately half of the gene sequences of human and mouse genomes comes from so-called mobile elements—genes that jump around the genome. Much of this DNA is no longer capable of moving, but is likely “auditioning”  perhaps as a regulator of gene function or in homologous recombination, which is a type of genetic recombination where the basic structural units of DNA,  nucleotide sequences, are exchanged between two DNA molecules to  repair  breaks in the DNA  strands. Modern mammalian genomes also contain numerous intact movable elements, such as retrotransposon LINE-1, that use RNA intermediates to spread about the genome. 

Given

The Spradling laboratory studies the biology of reproduction. By unknown means eggs reset the normally irreversible processes of differentiation and aging. The fruit fly Drosophila provides a favorable multicellular system for molecular genetic studies. The lab focuses on several aspects of egg development, called oogenesis, which promises to provide insight into the rejuvenation of the nucleus and surrounding cytoplasm. By studying ovarian stem cells, they are learning how cells maintain an undifferentiated state and how cell production is regulated by microenvironments known as niches. They are  also re-investigating the role of steroid and prostaglandin hormones in controlling

Steven Farber

In mammals, most lipids, such as fatty acids and cholesterol, are absorbed into the body via the small intestine. The complexity of the cells and fluids that inhabit this organ make it very difficult to study in a laboratory setting. The goal of the Farber lab is to better understand the cell and molecular biology of lipids within digestive organs by exploiting the many unique attributes of the clear zebrafish larva  to visualize lipid uptake and processing in real time.  Given their utmost necessity for proper cellular function, it is not surprising that defects in lipid metabolism underlie a number of human diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.

Integrity of hereditary material—the genome —is critical for species survival. Genomes need protection from agents that can cause mutations affecting DNA coding, regulatory functions, and duplication during cell division. DNA sequences called transposons, or jumping genes (discovered by Carnegie’s Barbara McClintock,) can multiply and randomly jump around the genome and cause mutations. About half of the sequence of the human and mouse genomes is derived from these mobile elements.  RNA interference (RNAi, codiscovered by Carnegie’s Andy Fire) and related processes are central to transposon control, particularly in egg and sperm precursor cells.  

Brittany Belin joined the Department of Embryology staff in August 2020. Her Ph.D. research involved developing new tools for in vivo imaging of actin in cell nuclei. Actin is a major structural element in eukaryotic cells—cells with a nucleus and organelles —forming contractile polymers that drive muscle contraction, the migration of immune cells to  infection sites, and the movement of signals from one part of a cell to another. Using the tools developed in her Ph.D., Belin discovered a new role for actin in aiding the repair of DNA breaks in human cells caused by carcinogens, UV light, and other mutagens.

Belin changed course for her postdoctoral work, in

Frederick Tan holds a unique position at Embryology in this era of high-throughput sequencing where determining DNA and RNA sequences has become one of the most powerful technologies in biology. DNA provides the basic code shared by all our cells to program our development. While there are about 30,000 human genes, 98% of DNA sequences are comprised of repetitive and regulatory sequences within and between genes. Measuring the specific set of DNA sequences that are transcribed into RNA helps reveal what and how our tissues are doing by showing which genes are active.

Modern sequencing platforms, such as the Illumina HiSeq 2000, generate only short, ordered sequences, usually 100