The Clark and Morehouse Lab research is featured in PNAS and the Atlantic

The group discovered surprising abilities in a seemingly common butterfly, the cabbage whites – their reproductive capabilities are extraordinarily complex and powerful.

Quick highlights about the butterflies from the text:

  • Males create spermatophores that are 13% of their body weight, which he builds inside of the female.
  • Females have reproductive tracts that are more efficiently stomach-like than their own stomachs (including a chewing jaw that helps them break down the nutrients in the spermatophores).
  • Their relationship is a rapidly evolving battle of the sexes.

The article is an interesting read about a seemingly plain jane butterfly. You can read more in the Atlantic: “This Common Butterfly Has an Extraordinary Sex Life” by Ed Yong. The research can be found in PNAS.

Camille Meslin, Tamara S. Cherwin, Melissa S. Plakkec, Brandon S. Small, Breanna J. Goetz, Nathan I. Morehouse, and Nathan L. Clark (2017) Structural complexity and molecular heterogeneity of a butterfly ejaculate reflect a complex history of selection PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1707680114.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/butterfly-cabbage-white-vagina-dentata/530889/

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20170628/UC-biologist-explores-structural-complexities-of-butterflies-to-unlock-mysteries-of-human-infertility.aspx

CSB – Immuno Joint Departmental Retreat

The Department of Computational and Systems Biology and Department of Immunology hosted a joint retreat on June 7, 2017 at The Twentieth Century Club in Pittsburgh, PA.

Speakers included:

  • Keynote – Dr. Steve Kleinstein (Yale)
  • Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis (CSB)
  • Bill Hawse (Immuno)
  • Takis Benos (CSB)
  • Lisa Borghesi (Immuno)
  • Carlos Camacho (CSB)
  • Florian Weisel (Immuno)
  • Chakra Chennubhotla (CSB)
  • Sandra Cascio (Immuno)
  • Jim Faeder (CSB)
  • Dario Vignali (Immuno)

A poster session followed – congratulations to our winners!
GRADUATE STUDENTS:
1st place: Abigail Overacre-Delgoffe (Immuno)
2nd place: Marta Wells (CSB)
3rd place: Jingyu Zhang (CSB)

POSTDOCS and RESEARCH ASSOCIATES:
1st place: Deepali Sawant (Immuno)
2nd place: Jason Lohmueller (Immuno)
3rd place: Justin Spiriti (CSB)

Later in the evening, the Department of Computational and Systems Biology had a reception with awards at the Carnegie Science Center.

Congratulations to Wynn Meyer (best postdoc), She Zhang (best student), and Marcia Schwab (best staff) on their awards.

More info here: http://csb.pitt.edu/retreat/

Photos: http://www.csb.pitt.edu/csb-retreat-2017/

CSB Members Attend March for Science

Pitt’s Computational and Systems Biology showed up to the March for Science in style – both in Pittsburgh and DC!
There was a demonstration in Oakland from 12 PM – 2 PM, beginning on Bigelow Blvd between Forbes and Fifth Aves. There were several speakers both before and after the march around Oakland.

One of the speakers was adjunct faculty member, Lance Davidson, and he talked about how science is part of Pittsburgh’s core.

The Xing lab published a research article in FEBS Letters

The Xing lab published a research article in FEBS Letters.

Fig5_xingAbstract

miRNAs serve as crucial post-transcriptional regulators in a variety of essential cell fate decisions. However, the contribution of the mRNA-miRNA mutual regulation to bistability is not fully understood. Here, we built a set of mathematical models of mRNA-miRNA interactions and systematically analyzed the sensitivity of the response curves under various conditions. Our findings indicate that mRNA-miRNA reciprocal regulation could manifest ultrasensitivity to subserve the generation of bistability when equipped with a positive feedback loop. We also find that the region of bistability is expanded by a stronger competing endogenous mRNA (ceRNA). Interestingly, bistability can be generated without a feedback loop if multiple miRNA binding sites exist on a target mRNA. Thus, we demonstrate the importance of simple mRNA-miRNA reciprocal regulation in cell fate decisions.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Tian X-J, Zhang H, Zhang J, Xing J (2016) Reciprocal Regulation Between mRNA and miRNA Enables a Bistable Switch That Directs Cell Fate Decisions FEBS Letters doi: 10.1002/1873-3468.12379.