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Longe-range interactions in SARS-CoV-2 RNA

Omer Ziv from the Miska lab, in collaboration with Justus-Liebig University colleagues, has revealed precise details of the base-pairing patterns formed by the long RNA genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Ziv devised the method that takes a snapshot of both short- and long-range interactions in the RNA, which are essential for viral function and therefore present potential therapeutic targets.

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Gene regulatory architectures in germline and somatic tissues

Jacques Serizay and Ahringer lab colleagues profiled and compared transcriptional and regulatory element activities across five tissues of the adult nematode worm, C. elegans. The results demonstrate fundamental differences in regulatory architectures of germline and somatic tissue-specific genes, and provide a tissue-specific resource for future studies.

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Probing the role of double-stranded RNA uptake

By carefully studying the physiology of worms, the Miska lab discover that a protein responsible for the uptake of environmental dsRNA, SID-2, affects the growth of an animal. They show that this developmental change is unlikely due to nutritional starvation and potentially due to very specific molecular alterations communicated by the RNA.

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Trauma's epigenetic effect involves factors in serum

By exposing mice to early adversity, the Miska lab and colleagues in Zurich studied how environmental exposure can embed signals in the germline and lead to their transmission to the progeny, triggering metabolic changes later in life. They show these effects are paternally transmitted via PPAR nuclear receptor signalling that is activated by factors circulating in blood serum.

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How are pancreas islet cells specified?

To understand how the two cell types, alpha and beta, are generated in pancreas islets, Ben Simons and colleagues have used a genetic reporter system in the developing mouse. They trace progenitor cells at different time points and apply quantitative analysis of cell lineages to reveal the transition points for specifying the two cell fates that result in a polyclonal islet.

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Cancer drug hope for genetic disease

Berquez, Gadsby, Festa and colleagues discover that adjusting membrane composition with PI3K inhibitor alpelisib rebalances actin cytoskeletal organisation in cell culture and alleviates absorption defects in an in vivo mouse model of Lowe syndrome/ Dent disease. Their findings provide proof-of-concept for the first disease modifying treatment.

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Philip Leverhulme Prize 2020 for Hansong Ma

Congratulations to Gurdon Institute Group Leader Hansong Ma, who has been awarded a prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize by the Leverhulme Trust. The prizes "recognise the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising". The prize value is £100,000 to spend on research activities.

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Our new PE Champion

Edward Allgeyer from the St Johnston lab has won our Public Engagement Champion Award 2020, for creating a workshop enabling students to build simple microscopes in the Cambridge Academy of Science and Technology microscopy challenge. Ed's day job is to build super-resolution microscopes in our special basement workshop.

Read more about the CAST Challenge

Jenny Gallop in Business Weekly

The new publication from Jenny Gallop's lab (described below left) has hit the news, appearing in Business Weekly.

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Award for research contributing to national prosperity

The Royal Society Mullard Award 2020 is awarded to Professor Steve Jackson for his research that led to the discovery of the drug olaparib, which has reached blockbuster status for the treatment of ovarian and breast cancers.

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Keeping the Gurdon safe and well

From our video series 'A Year in Institute Life', this instalment features our Safety and Compliance Manager, Sylviane Moss, describing the tasks necessary for keeping the Institute's occupants safe while working in what is a hazardous environment. A busy and demanding role - and that was before COVID-19!

Watch the video

Institute reopening

The Gurdon Institute reopened on Monday 15th June. Many staff will continue to work from home, and all staff may be contacted by email.

Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by Wellcome and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.

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