UPenn Cell & Developmental Biology
News & Upcoming Events
Penn-Led Team Reprograms Social Behavior in Carpenter Ants Using Epigenetic Drugs
In Florida carpenter ant colonies, distinct worker castes called minors and majors exhibit pronounced differences in social behavior throughout their lives. In a new study published today in Science, a multi-institution team anchored at University of Pennsylvania found that these caste-specific behaviors are not set in stone. Rather, this pioneering study shows that social behavior can be reprogrammed, indicating that an individual’s epigenetic, not genetic, makeup determines behavior in ant colonies.
Epigenetics is the study of stable, or persistent, changes in gene expression that occur without changes in DNA sequence. Epigenetic regulation has been observed to affect a variety of distinct traits in animals, including body size, aging, and behavior. However, there is an enormous gap in knowledge about the epigenetic mechanisms that regulate social behavior.
Ants provide ideal models to study social behavior, because each colony is comprised of thousands of individual sisters -- famously, the queen and all workers are female -- with nearly identical genetic makeup, much like human twins. However, these sisters possess stereotypically distinct physical traits and behaviors based on caste. Read full article:
NEW DATE AND LOCATION:
Friday April 8, 2016
Arthur H. Rubenstein Auditorium
Smilow Center for Translational Research
3400 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
For more information, visit www.genderinsciencepub.com.
Transparent Zebrafish Reveal How Axons Regenerate on a Proper Path, Finds Penn Study
When peripheral nerves are damaged and their vital synaptic paths are disrupted, they have the ability to regenerate and reestablish lost connections. But what about when a nerve is severed completely, its original route lost? How does a regenerating axon, looking to reconnect with its proper target -- with so many possibilities and only one correct path to restore original functioning -- know which way to go? Using a transparent zebrafish model, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have identified key components of a mechanism that allows the nervous system to heal itself. Their work was published online this week in Neuron ahead of the print issue.
"It's been known for over one hundred years that peripheral nerves can regenerate," said senior author Michael Granato, PhD, a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. However, the mechanics of regeneration, including the question of whether the restoration of axonal branches is random or guided in some way, have remained unresolved issues, partly because of the difficulty of observing the process in live animals. Using zebrafish, which are transparent at larval stages, Granato and his colleagues were able to literally obtain a whole new window into how axons regenerate. Read full article: