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  • Surprise role of nuclear structure protein in development | Department of Embryology
    by Carnegie s Yixian Zheng indicates that counter to expectations these B type lamins are not necessary for stem cells to renew and develop but are necessary for proper organ development Their work is published November 24 by Science Express Nuclear lamina is the material that lines the inside of a cell s nucleus Its major structural component is a family of proteins called lamins of which B type lamins are prominent members and thought to be absolutely essential for a cell s survival Mutations in lamins have been linked to a number of human diseases Lamins are thought to suppress the expression of certain genes by binding directly to the DNA within the cell s nucleus The role of B type lamins in the differentiation of embryonic stem cells into various types of cells depending on where in a body they are located was thought to be crucial The lamins were thought to use their DNA binding suppression abilities to tell a cell which type of development pathway to follow But the team including Carnegie s Youngjo Kim Katie McDole and Chen Ming Fan took a hard look at the functions of B type lamins in embryonic stem cells and in live mice They found that counter to expectations lamin Bs were not essential for embryonic stem cells to survive nor did their DNA binding directly regulate the genes to which they were attached However mice deficient in B type lamins were born with improperly developed organs including defects in the lungs diaphragms and brains and were unable to breathe Our works seems to indicate that while B type lamins are not part of the early developmental tissue building process they are important in facilitating the integration of different cell types into the complex architectures of various developing organs

    Original URL path: http://emb.carnegiescience.edu/blog/surprise-role-nuclear-structure-protein-development (2013-06-13)
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  • Carnegie’s BioEYES Hosts Watershed Fieldtrip | Department of Embryology
    the Herring Run watershed near the school to teach students about science the environment and much more A component of the two week watershed program is to have students raise zebrafish a fish commonly used in scientific research in water samples that the children collect on the field trip Carnegie scientist and founder of BioEYES Steven Farber remarked Kids take tremendous ownership of the zebrafish embryos that they raise in the classroom When we have the students raise the embryos in water they collect on the field trip and find that they develop abnormally they are upset And what we try to do is capture that emotion and translate it into a long lasting concern for their local environment and the Chesapeake Bay Established at Carnegie in 2007 BioEYES fosters an interest in and a love for science in elementary middle and high school students The BioEYES program Your Watershed Your Back Yard was established in 2008 to teach students about local watersheds pollution and the Chesapeake Bay The first two years the program conducted watershed lessons at 3 to 4 schools In 2011 2012 they will be expanding their effort to nine schools During the program science outreach educators from Carnegie spend two weeks teaching middle school students about local watersheds They go on three field trips one visits streams near their school to study the environment and conduct water quality testing a second hosted by Blue Water Baltimore teaches activities such as a planting storm drain stenciling or stream cleanup and a third releases fingerling rainbow trout that are raised by students in class as part of a Trout in the Classroom program This year the long established GM Earth Force partnership GREEN expanded their watershed education program into Baltimore with BioEYES at the helm BioEYES is a

    Original URL path: http://emb.carnegiescience.edu/blog/carnegie%E2%80%99s-bioeyes-hosts-watershed-fieldtrip (2013-06-13)
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  • Carnegie’s Christoph Lepper Receives Prestigious Early Independence Award | Department of Embryology
    will receive a prize of 250 000 per year for five years to carry out his creative research program as an independent investigator The prize is designed to launch exceptional young scientists into independent positions directly out of graduate school Lepper received the award for his research on the biology of skeletal muscle Contrary to standard belief he discovered while a graduate student in Chen Ming Fan s lab at Embryology that genes needed by muscle stem cells in the embryo are not required by adult muscle stem cells Embryology director Allan Spradling remarked The staff associate program at Embryology has been nurturing outstanding young researchers like Christoph for more than 40 years We are gratified that our experience with staff associates helped inspire this new NIH program and that Christoph is among the first recipients of this prize NIH established the award because recent trends show an increase in the length of the traditional scientific training period in addition to an increase in the time it takes for scientists to establish independent research careers The award targets the pool of talented young scientists who have the intellect scientific creativity drive and maturity to flourish independently without the need for traditional post doctoral training The award reduces the amount of time they spend in training and gives them the opportunity to start highly innovative research programs as early as possible Lepper received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology and biotechnology from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he studied cartilage development in the Lian Stein laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Medical School He was awarded his Ph D from the Johns Hopkins University in 2010 The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high impact trans NIH programs The NIH Director s Awards Program is

    Original URL path: http://emb.carnegiescience.edu/blog/carnegie%E2%80%99s-christoph-lepper-receives-prestigious-early-independence-award (2013-06-13)
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  • A “Jumping Gene’s” preferred targets may influence genome evolution | Department of Embryology
    both these enigmas The scientists used the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster one of the premier model organisms for studying genome structure and gene function They focused on one particular transposon called the P element which has an unsurpassed ability to move that has stimulated its widespread use by Drosophila researchers Remarkably P elements have only been present in Drosophila melanogaster for about 80 years at which time they were acquired from the genome of a distantly related fruit fly species by an unknown process P elements remain highly infective today Adding just one copy to the genome of one fly causes all the flies in a laboratory population with which it breeds to acquire 30 to 50 P elements within a few generations The original goal of the Spradling team s research was not to understand how transposons spread or genomes evolve but something much simpler To learn why P elements insert at some locations in the genome but not in others Spradling and his colleagues who oversee the NIH funded Drosophila Gene Disruption Project used a database containing more than 50 000 genomic sites where P elements have inserted They built this exceptional database over the last 20 years P elements insert into DNA very selectively Nearly 40 of new jumps occur within just 300 genes and always near the beginning of the gene But the genes seemed to have nothing in common When these sites were compared to data about the Drosophila genome particularly recent studies of Drosophila genome duplication the answer became clear What many P insertion sites share in common is an ability to function as starting sites or origins for DNA duplication This association between P elements and the machinery of genome duplication suggested that they can coordinate their movement with DNA replication Spradling and

    Original URL path: http://emb.carnegiescience.edu/blog/%E2%80%9Cjumping-gene%E2%80%99s%E2%80%9D-preferred-targets-may-influence-genome-evolution (2013-06-13)
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  • Potential new eye tumor treatment discovered | Department of Embryology
    could result in a new therapeutic target for treating this rare form of cancer and potentially other cancers as well MicroRNAs are a short single strands of genetic material that bind to longer strands of messenger RNA which is the courier that brings the genetic code from the DNA in the nucleus to the cell s ribosome where it is translated into protein This binding activity allows microRNAs to silence the expression of select genes in a targeted manner Abnormal versions of microRNAs have been implicated in the growth of several types of cancer The paper from Carnegie s Karina Conkrite Maggie Sundby and David MacPherson as well as authors from other institutions focuses on a cluster of microRNAs called miR 17 92 Recent research has shown that aberrant versions of this cluster are involved in preventing pre cancerous cells from dying and allowing them to proliferate into tumors Previous work has shown that miR 17 92 can be involved in the survival of lymphoma and leukemia cells by reducing the levels of a tumor suppressing protein called PTEN The team s new research shows that miR 17 92 can also be involved in retinoblastoma although it does not act in the same way via the PTEN protein as it does in other types of cancers Rather miR 17 92 acts to help cells that lack the tumor suppressing Rb protein to proliferate First the team demonstrated that miR 17 92 is expressed in higher than usual quantities in all human retinoblastomas examined and in some mouse retinoblastomas The authors engineered mice to express high levels of miR 17 92 in their retinas When coupled with inactivation of Rb family members expression of miR 17 92 led to extremely rapid and aggressive retinoblastoma Then they showed that this abundance of

    Original URL path: http://emb.carnegiescience.edu/blog/potential-new-eye-tumor-treatment-discovered (2013-06-13)
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  • Three Carnegie Scientists Chosen Nifty Fifty Lecturers for USA Science & Engineering Festival | Department of Embryology
    physical sciences in the United States are from abroad The United States is losing ground in these critical areas As part of this festival Lockheed Martin is sponsoring the Nifty Fifty program which brings some of the United States most interesting and tractable scientists into high schools in the D C area Nifty Fifty winners are talking to various middle and high school students across the Washington D C area this month to inspire the next generation to pursue science The winners were chosen for their differing fields talents divergent backgrounds and ages and ability to convey the importance of science to our nation s future Marilyn Fogel of Carnegie s Geophysical Laboratory presented a lecture entitled If there is life on Mars how would we know it at Woodson High School in Fairfax VA The lecture was based on fieldwork conducted in Svalbard Norway where her group has developed a Mars analogue site for life detection She also discussed topics related to geobiology a field that studies how living organisms have influenced the evolution of Earth and vice versa Students at Woodson High School were interested to learn how a scientist chooses an interdisciplinary field like bio geo chemistry and becomes an expert in that field Marnie Halpern of the Department of Embryology will speak to Gaithersburg High School students in Montgomery County MD on October 21st about her work using the zebrafish model to explore how differences arise between the left and right sides of the brain Stella Kafka is a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism The Nifty Fifty scientists were selected from entries submitted by more than 100 professional science engineering societies including The National Academy of Engineering AAAS the American Chemical Society Society for Developmental Biology and American Women in Science 100

    Original URL path: http://emb.carnegiescience.edu/blog/three-carnegie-scientists-chosen-nifty-fifty-lecturers-usa-science-engineering-festival (2013-06-13)
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  • Educational Pioneer BioEYES Goes Down Under | Department of Embryology
    35 000 students in Philadelphia Baltimore and South Bend Indiana The Australian partnership is the program s first foray abroad BioEYES is a grassroots effort and the brainchild of molecular biologist Dr Steven Farber at the Carnegie Institution s Department of Embryology It is a K 12 science education program which provides classroom based learning through the use of live zebrafish It incorporates teacher empowerment and provides professional development seminars and a co teaching experience with trained university science consultants Educators not only value the university community partnership they are excited to learn from expert science outreach educators In addition they are eager for the BioEYES team to bring cutting edge science into their classrooms and inspire students to further pursue science education and careers Named for their zebra like stripes zebrafish are minnow sized inexpensive and easy to raise They share about 80 of their genes with humans a plus for scientists such as Farber who studies the effects of genes on development of the digestive system A few years ago he discovered that the same qualities that make the fish useful for his research make them ideal for introducing children to the thrill of hands on science The fish develop from a single cell to a swimming larva within a few days remarked Farber And during that period their bodies are optically transparent You can watch their organs develop without harming the fish Farber started Project BioEYES in Philadelphia in 2002 where he was a professor at Thomas Jefferson University before coming to the Carnegie Institution in 2004 He was inspired by a visit to his son s elementary school carrying along his fish microscope and other scientific gadgets to show the kids The partnership with Australia demonstrates that BioEYES has earned global recognition for excellence as a

    Original URL path: http://emb.carnegiescience.edu/blog/educational-pioneer-bioeyes-goes-down-under (2013-06-13)
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  • Chromosome “Glue” Surprises Scientists | Department of Embryology
    the biggest surprises is that only a small amount of cohesin the protein glue that keeps replicated chromosomes bound together is needed for the cell division process and that s what we think cohesin s primary role is said lead author Jill Heidinger Pauli at Carnegie s Department of Embryology A cell has a four phase life cycle growth synthesis growth and mitosis During the synthesis phase DNA inside the cell s nucleus is duplicated and two identical daughter chromosomes called sister chromatids result These twins must remain connected until the cell is ready to divide This moment occurs in the last step of the cell cycle the mitosis phase where chromosomes condense and fibrous structures called spindles form Cohesin keeps the sisters properly glued until it is time for the spindles to pull the sisters to opposite sides of the cell The cell then separates into two resulting in two genetically identical cells Cohesin is also important for other processes outside of cell division Cohesin plays a critical role in DNA condensation and the repair of DNA damage Cohesin facilitates efficient DNA repair by gluing sister chromatids together so that if the DNA of one sister is damaged the other sister can be used as a template for repair This is critical for preventing the loss of genetic information To monitor how much cohesin is needed for these different processes the researchers exploited a genetic trick which lets a stop codon occasionally code for an amino acid A codon is a set of three DNA bases that codes either for a particular amino acid or stops the translation the reading of the DNA sequence If the translation process is halted prematurely due to the insertion of a stop codon a fully functional protein can t be formed The researchers

    Original URL path: http://emb.carnegiescience.edu/blog/chromosome-%E2%80%9Cglue%E2%80%9D-surprises-scientists (2013-06-13)
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