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Biology

Janine M. LeBlanc-Straceski

Associate Professor

Biology

Degree(s)

B.A. Tufts University; Ph.D. Wesleyan University

Teaching

  • HHMI SEA PHAGES for Biology Majors, Principles of Biology I Laboratory
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  • Embryonic Development, Developmental Neurobiology
  • Special Topics in Molecular Motors
  • From Cells to Drugs: Biomedical Research Approach to Disease Therapies
  • Directed Study/Research I and II

Professional Experience

Research

Mycobacteriophage from 2015 Merrimack freshmen class

1. HHMI SEA PHAGES Project. 

The Department of Biology is a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI, the second largest private biomedical research funding agency, world-wide) Science Education Alliance (SEA), which embraces the principles of the National Science Foundation’s Vision and Change for science education. In the PHAGES program,  freshmen Biology Majors participate in authentic research by collecting soil samples and isolating, characterizing and naming new and novel bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria.  The genomic  DNA is sequenced and students in Genetics perform the annotation, which is published in GenBank (see below) at the National Center for Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences.  Two students are selected to present the team’s findings at the annual national symposium at HHMI headquarters. See the poster presented at the 2015 HHMI SEA PHAGES symposium.

Herterotaxia in Myo1d knockdown in Xenopus laevis tadpoles

2. Left/Right Asymmetry Determination.

Although vertebrate animals appear bilaterally symmetrical on the outside, inside they have a carefully coordinated pattern of asymmetry – the heart, stomach and spleen are on the left, the liver on the right.  Establishing this plan is critical for proper embryonic development, and when it goes awry humans have a condition known as situs inversus.  Myosins, molecular motors that shuttle vesicles around the cell, play a role in this process.  We are investigating the role one specific myosin, myo1d, has in early embryogenesis of the frog Xenopus laevis using a molecular genetic approach. Student researchers in my laboratory published a technique devised while cloning a this myosin from frogs (LeBlanc et al., 2006).  Students have cloned and sequenced the frog myosin whose expression was detected in early developing brain, spinal cord and muscle. Its role in the development of the nervous system is being investigated.  The developmental pattern of expression, and its role in establishing the body plan of vertebrate animals is also being investigated (LeBlanc et al., 2009).  The role of this myosin 1d in patterning the vertebrate body plan via vesicle trafficking inside the cell, and its role in left/right asymmetry is specifically being addressed.

3. Sailfin Molly Genetic Markers.  My research and Genetics students are creating a set of polymorphic markers from microsatellites of Poecilia latipinna to be used in paternity and other forensic testing. 

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 research projects in my lab have gone on to acquire Ph.D.’s in biochemistry, pathology, molecular biology, and completed MD/PhD and nurse practitioner programs and nursing Ph.D. degrees. Three are professors at major universities and several others are employed in the biotechnology industry and at medical schools.

(My work is supported by grants from Merck/AAAS; the National Science Foundation, grant # NSF 0077516; Sigma Xi; the Alden Trust; the Merrimack College Faculty Development Program; and the Murray Fellowship.)

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications. Undergraduate authors are underlined.

Albalaasi,A., Alhelali,I., Aljuhani,H., Almahmoud,A., Almutairi,S., Alsinnari,Y., Alsobaei,S., Anderson,M., Anderson,T., Arsenault,J., Ayotte,B., Barayan,S., Barcomb,E., Berkes,C., Bradford,E., Brodeur,A., Brunner,D., Castelluccio,S., Childs,E., Connell,J., Cracchiolo,C., Cunniffe,M., Dadwal,S., Daly,T., DiTondo,C., Doherty,B., Donnelly,T., Fernandez,T., Fisher,J., Fletcher,J., Gagnon,M., Gagnon,S., Gardner,B., GodoSolo,E., Gomez,D., Hall,A., Haseeb,J., Hayes,J., Hurley,L., Jewers,S., Johnson,K., Joyce,J., Kirby,A., Lawson,M., LeBlanc-Straceski,J., Lewis,H., MacLean,E., Madden,D., Makkawi,A., Maradianos,I., Modica-Napolitano,J., Mohamed,H., Morales,H., O’Donnell,B., Overly,K., Pantano,J., Phelan,K., Polonka,D., Ramirez,N., Rampino,N., Robinson,C., Rossi,A., Rozen,J., Scott,H., Shahin,S., Sobchuk,J., Thomas,E., Vergados,J., Ward,M., Hughes,L.E., Bradley,K.W., Asai,D.J., Bowman,C.A., Russell,D.A., Pope,W.H., Jacobs-Sera,D., Hendrix,R.W. and Hatfull,G.F.  2015. Mycobacterium phage Texage, complete genome.  GenBank: KT326767.1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nuccore/919048628

Welkin H. Pope, Charles A. Bowman, Daniel A. Russell, Deborah Jacobs-Sera, David J. Asai, Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES)*, Phage Hunters Integrating Research and Education (PHIRE) PHIRE4, Mycobacterial Genetics Course (MGC), Steven G. Cresawn, William R. Jacobs Jr., Roger W. Hendrix, Jeffrey G. Lawrence, and Graham F. Hatfull. *Merrimack College Authors: LeBlanc-Straceski, Janine,  Berkes, Charlotte,  DiVito, Michael, Flaherty, Nicholas, Gagnon, MirandaLangone, AllisonPreston, AnthonyVasquez Gwendolyn.  2015.  Whole genome comparison of a large collection of mycobacteriophages reveals a continuum of phage genetic diversity.  eLife 2015;4:e06416. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.06416.

Jacobs-Sera, D., Ackerman, M., Archer, E.K., Benham, D., Berkes, C., Blair, B., Bricker, J.S., Butler, M., Clase, K.L., Clement, B.J., Davis, W.B., Doyle, E.L., Esmaeiliyan, M., Ettinger, A.-S.H., Griffard, P.B., Isern, S., Jenkins, M., Jones, N.L., Laing, C.E., LeBlanc-Straceski, J.M., Manna, D.P., McKinney, A.L., Michael, S.F., Molloy, S.D., Napuli, A., Neitzel, J., Pike, C., Ryan, A.M., Scott, C., Simon, B.E., Washington, J.M., Timmerman, M.W., Torres, M., Bailey, C.P., Barker, L.P., Bradley, K.W., Clarke, D., Asai, D.J., Bowman, C.A., Cresawn, S.G., Russell, D.A., Pope, W.H., Hendrix, R.W. and Hatfull, G.F.   2014.  Mycobacterium phage Echild, complete genome.  GenBank: KF981601.1.

LeBlanc-Straceski, Janine M., Anna Sokac, William Bement, Pablo Sobrado, Laura Lemoine.  2009. Developmental Expression of Xenopus Myosin 1d (XlMyo1d) 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]. http://www.ejbiotechnology.info/content/vol9/issue4/full/2/index.html.    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.