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Janine M. LeBlanc-Straceski, Ph.D.

Janine M. LeBlanc-Straceski, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
B.A., Tufts University; Ph.D., Wesleyan University

  • Director, Center for Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences
  • President, Merrimack College Chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society

Courses Taught: Principles I Laboratory, Genetics, Embryonic Development, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Directed Research and Senior Thesis Research

Research Interests

Members of the 18 different classes of myosin molecular motors have been found in all eukaryotes where they perform various cell motility functions such as cytokinesis and growth cone migration in of axons. During embryonic development, several examples of the roles myosin can play have come from studying various model systems such as Drosophila.  An important role in development has been revealed for Myo1d.  The Drosophila homologue of vertebrate myo1d, DmMyo31DF, is the first actin based motor shown to play a role in left-right asymmetry determination.  Mutants exhibit complete situs inversus of gut and testes.

We are investigating the roles that this same myosin isoform, Xl Myo1d, can play during frog embryonic development.  Xl Myo1d is a member of the myosin I, subclass 4.  Members of the myosin I class are single headed, bind calmodulin light chains and have lipid binding domains in their tails. The rat Myo1d homologue has been implicated in endosome vesicle recycling in epithelial cells. Our laboratory has cloned the  Xenopus Myo1d cDNA and determined that the derived amino acid sequence is 80% identical to the rat and human homologue.  Western blot analysis using a polyclonal antibody raised against an isoform specific peptide showed that the protein is present in eggs and levels increase at early neurula through tadpole stages.  Whole mount in situ hybridization using a probe containing the 5’UTR (untranslated region) showed that XlMyo1d mRNA is expressed in neural tube, pre-somitic mesoderm, somites and all three segments of cranial neural crest cells during their migration. 

Sections of the in situ hybridizations revealed that during somitogenesis, Xl Myo1d mRNA was localized to a stripe overlapping the nuclear region of somites during early tadpole stages.  Preliminary data indicates that elimination of this myosin isoform causes profound perturbation in development including the failure to hatch, greatly reduced twitching response, inhibition of somite formation, and other anatomical abnormalities.  These continue to be investigated.

My research laboratory is maintained to provide undergraduate students with a quality research experience while making meaningful contributions to the scientific literature. Students who have participated in the research projects in my lab have gone on to acquire Ph.D.s in biochemistry, pathology, molecular biology, and completed M.D./Ph.D. and nurse practitioner programs. Several others are technicians in the biotechnology industry and at medical schools. Two are professors at major universities.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications 
Undergraduate authors are underlined.

LeBlanc-Straceski, Janine M., Anna Sokac, William Bement, Pablo Sobrado, Laura Lemoine.  2009. Developmental Expression of Xenopus Myosin 1d (Xl Myo1d) and Identification of a Myo1d tail Homology that Overlaps TH1. Develop. Growth Differ. 51, 443-451. 

LeBlanc-Straceski, J. M.,  Ricketts, S.,  Sobrado, P.,  Donoghue, J.,  Morgan, K.   2006.   The  lift pool  method  for  isolation  of  cDNA  clones  from  lambda  phage  libraries.    Electronic   Journal of Biotechnology [on line].  9: [cited 21Nov2006].    ISSN: 0717-3458. Available from   ejbiotechnology. 

Shi, S.,  Lee, R. J.,  LeBlanc-Straceski, J. M.,  Uyeda, T. Q. P.  1999.  Role of myosin II tail sequences in its function and localization at the cleavage furrow in Dictyostelium.  J. Cell Science.  112, 2195-2201.

Basson, C. T.,  Bachinsky, D. R.,  Lin, R.,  Levi, T.,  Elkins, J.,  Soults, J.,  Traill, T.,  Holmes, L. B.,  LeBlanc-Straceski, J. M.,  Renault, B.,  Kucherlapati, R.,  Seidman, J. G.,  Seidman, C. E.  1997.  Mutations in human TBX-5 gene cause limb and cardiac malformation in Holt-Oram syndrome.  Nature Genetics.  15, 30-35.

Nadkarni, P. M.,  Banks, A.,  Montgomery, K.,  LeBlanc-Straceski, J.,  Miller, P.,  Krauter, K.  1996.  CONTIG EXPLORER: interactive marker-content map assembly.  Genomics.  31, 301-310.

Cupelli, L.,  Renault, B.,  LeBlanc-Straceski, J. M.,  Banks, A.,  Ward, D.,  Kucherlapati, R. S.,  Krauter, K.  1996.  Assignment of the human myogenic factors 5 and 6 (MYF5, MYF6) gene cluster to 12q21 by in situ hybridization and physical mapping of the locus between D12S350 and D12S106.  Cytogenetic and Cell Genet.  72, 250-251.

Krauter, K.,  Montgomery, K.,  Yoon, S-J.,  LeBlanc-Straceski, J.,  Renault, B.,  Marondel, I.,  Herdman, V.,  Cupelli, L.,  Banks, A.,  Lieman, J.,  Menninger, J.,  Bray-Ward, P., Nardkarni, P.,  Weissenbach, J.,  Le Plasier, D.,  Rigault, P.,  Chumakov, I.,  Cohen, D., Miller, P.,  Ward, D.,  Kucherlapati, R.  1995.   A second generation YAC-contig map of human chromosome 12.  Nature.  377S, 321-333.

Yoon, S. J.,  LeBlanc-Straceski, J. M.,  Ward, D.,  Krauter, K.,  Kucherlapati, R.  1994.  Organization of the human keratin type II gene cluster at 12q13.  Genomics.  24, 502-508.

LeBlanc-Straceski, J.,  Montgomery, K.,  Kissel, H.,  Murtaugh, L.,  Tsai, P.,  Ward, D.,  Kucherlapati, R.,  Krauter, K.  1994.  21 polymorphic markers from human chromosome 12 for integration of genetic and physical maps.  Genomics.  19, 341-349.

Chan, Y-M.,  Yu, Q-C.,  Christano, A.,  Uitto, J.,  Kucherlapati, R. S.,  LeBlanc-Straceski, J. M.,   Fuchs, E.  1994.  Mutations in the non-helical linker segment L1-2 of keratin 5 in patients with Weber-Cockayne epidermolysis bullosa simplex.  J. Cell Science.  107, 765-774.

Carter, S. A.,  Bryce, S. D.,  Munro, C. S.,  Healy, E.,  Bashir, R.,  Weissenbach, J.,  LeBlanc-Straceski, J.,  Kucherlapati, R.,  Stephenson, A.,  Rees, J. L.,  Strachan, T.  1994.  Linkage analyses in British pedigrees suggest a single-locus for Darier disease and narrow the location to the interval between D12S105 and D12S129.  Genomics.  24, 378-382.

LeBlanc-Straceski, J. M.,  Fukui, Y.,  Sohn, R. L.,  Spudich, J. A.,  Leinwand, L. A.  1994.  Functional analysis of a cardiac myosin rod in Dictyostelium discoideum.  Cell Motil. Cytoskel.  27, 313-326.

Montgomery, K.,  LeBlanc, J.,  Tsai, P.,  Ward, D.,  Kucherlapati, R.,  Krauter, K.  1993.  Characterization of two chromosome 12 cosmid libraries and development of STSs from cosmids mapped by FISH.  Genomics.  17, 682-693.

LeBlanc, J. M.,  Kitsis, R. N.,  Buttrick, P. M.,  Leinwand, L. A.  1992.  Molecular genetic manipulation of cardiac myosin.   in Neuromuscular Development and Disease.   Alan M. Kelly and Helen Blau, eds.  Chapter 17, pp223-237.  Raven Press, Ltd.: NY.

LeBlanc, J. M.,  Infante, A. A.  1992.  Sea urchin small RNA RNPs: identification, synthesis and sub-cellular localization during early embryonic development.  Molec. Reprod. Develop.  31, 96-105.

LeBlanc, J. M.,  Leinwand, L. A.  1991.  Diversity of myosin based contractile systems in eukaryotic cells.  Amer. Zool.  31, 514-521.

LeBlanc, J. M.,  Infante, A. A.  1990.  Endoplasmic reticulum associated glucose-6-phosphatase activity is developmentally regulated and enriched in microsomes of endo/mesoderm in sea urchins.  Roux’s Arch. Dev. Biol.  199, 103-106.

LeBlanc, J. M.,  Infante, A. A.  1989.  Association of 7SL RNA and an SRP-like particle with polysomes and endoplasmic reticulum in the developing sea urchin embryo.  Dev. Biol.  132, 139-152.


Janine LeBlanc-Straceski, Ph.D.