John Postlethwait

Professor, Department of Biology
Member, ION

Ph.D. Case Western Reserve
B.S. Stanford Univeristy

 

Research Interests: Genetic regulation of animal development including development of the nervous system, the mechanisms of sex determination, the origin of novel morphologies in evolution and the evolution of the vertebrate genome.

Overview: Our laboratory is interested in the genetic, genomic, and evolutionary principles that guide animal development. We investigate several aspects of this main problem: 

Genome Duplication: The evolution of gene functions in development after genome duplication, focusing on skeletal development.

Fanconi anemia: A small molecule screen for compounds to rescue zebrafish Fanconi Anemia mutants as a way to identify potential therapeutics for human FA patients and to understand disease mechanisms.

MicroRNAs: The roles of microRNAs in embryonic (especially skeletal) development, including evolving miRNA functions after genome duplication.

Icefish: The genetic basis for the evolution of osteopenia or osteoporosis in Antarctic icefish.

Sex determinaion:The developmental genetic basis for sex determination in zebrafish.

Speciation: The roles of genome duplication in lineage divergence, focusing on the evolution of cis and trans acting regulation in the radiation of the danio lineage, including zebrafish, and on variation among populations of stickleback.

Oikopleura: Retaining a chordate body plan as an adult, the larvacean urochordate Oikopleura dioica represents the sister lineage to the vertebrates, diverging before the R1 and R2 rounds of genome duplication that led to the origin of vertebrate innovations.

Perchlorate toxicity and sex determination: Perchlorate is a pervasive environmental contaminant that can cause partial sex reversal in stickleback. We are investigating the hypotheses that perchlorate alters sex development through the thyroid or a non-thyroidal mechanism.

Drosophila developmental genetics: Work on Drosophila homeotic mutants, pattern formation, and ovary development.

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Related Articles

Unification of miRNA and isomiR research: the mirGFF3 format and the mirtop API.

Bioinformatics. 2019 Aug 29;:

Authors: Desvignes T, Loher P, Eilbeck K, Ma J, Urgese G, Fromm B, Sydes J, Aparicio-Puerta E, Barrera V, Espín R, Thibord F, Ros XB, Londin E, Telonis AG, Ficarra E, Friedländer MR, Postlethwait JH, Rigoutsos I, Hackenberg M, Vlachos IS, Halushka MK, Pantano L

Abstract
MOTIVATION: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNA molecules (∼22 nucleotide long) involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation. Advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies led to the discovery of isomiRs, which are miRNA sequence variants. While many miRNA-seq analysis tools exist, the diversity of output formats hinders accurate comparisons between tools and precludes data sharing and the development of common downstream analysis methods.
RESULTS: To overcome this situation, we present here a community-based project, miRTOP (miRNA Transcriptomic Open Project) working towards the optimization of miRNA analyses. The aim of miRTOP is to promote the development of downstream isomiR analysis tools that are compatible with existing detection and quantification tools. Based on the existing GFF3 format, we first created a new standard format, mirGFF3, for the output of miRNA/isomiR detection and quantification results from small RNA-seq data. Additionally, we developed a command line Python tool, mirtop, to create and manage the mirGFF3 format. Currently, mirtop can convert into mirGFF3 the outputs of commonly used pipelines, such as seqbuster, isomiR-SEA, sRNAbench, Prost! as well as BAM files. Some tools have also incorporated the mirGFF3 format directly into their code, such as, miRge2.0, IsoMIRmap, and OptimiR. Its open architecture enables any tool or pipeline to output or convert results into mirGFF3. Collectively, this isomiR categorization system, along with the accompanying mirGFF3 and mirtop API, provide a comprehensive solution for the standardization of miRNA and isomiR annotation, enabling data sharing, reporting, comparative analyses, and benchmarking, while promoting the development of common miRNA methods focusing on downstream steps of miRNA detection, annotation, and quantification.
AVAILABILITY: https://github.com/miRTop/mirGFF3/ and https://github.com/miRTop/mirtop.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

PMID: 31504201 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]