Carter Takacs, Ph.D.

Carter Takacs Headshot
Assistant Professor

Biology and Environmental Science Department
College of Arts and Sciences

Postdoctoral training, Yale University School of Medicine
Ph.D., Genetics, Dartmouth Medical School
M.S., Biology, Dartmouth College

Research Interests

We all begin our journey in life as single fertilized cells that divide into millions of progeny cells. Our transformation into complex bodies is driven by the RNAs that are expressed from our genes. These RNAs serve as instructions that tell cells where to go, as well as what to become (e.g. brain, skin). My research interests lie in understanding how cells regulate RNA activity. It has been shown that the precise regulation of RNA stability is important for healthy development, leading to the following questions. How do cells remove previous RNAs to enable new developmental gene programs? What cellular factors in the embryo dictate how long an RNA persists? Finally, how does the production and/or removal of different RNAs impact a cell’s decision to divide, move, or become a particular cell type? To answer these questions, my lab utilizes the zebrafish model system to study the role of RNA regulation within the context of early development and brain morphogenesis.

Why zebrafish? Zebrafish are becoming a very popular model organism to study almost every aspect of cell and developmental biology. Zebrafish can generate hundreds of embryos in a single morning that are easy to collect and study. The embryos develop rapidly and are transparent, allowing for real-time imaging of cellular processes. In addition, the genome is sequenced, and many genetic tools, such as CRISPR-based genome editing, work exceptionally well in this model organism. In my lab, we couple these tools with biochemical techniques and microscopy to understand how gene regulation shapes biological form. Ultimately, we hope that the insights gained from this work will inform our understanding of human health and disease.

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Selected Publications

Gopal Kushawah, Luis Hernandez-Huertas, Joaquin Abugattas-Nunez Del Prado, Juan Martinez-Morales, Michelle DeVore, Huzaifa Hassan, Ismael Moreno-Sanchez, Laura Tomas-Gallardo, Alejandro Diaz-Moscoso, Dahiana Monges, Javier Guelfo, William Theune, Emry Brannan, Wei Wang, Timothy Corbin, Andrea Moran, Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, Edward Malaga-Trillo, Carter M. Takacs, Ariel Bazzini, Miguel Moreno-Mateos. CRISPR-Cas13d Induces Efficient mRNA Knockdown in Animal Embryos. Developmental Cell. 2020 Sept 28; 54(6): 805-817 [cover article]

Charles E Vejnar*, Mario Abdel Messih*, Carter M. Takacs*Valeria Yartseva, Panos Oikonomou, Romain Christiano, Marlon Stoeckius, Stephanie Lau, Miler T Lee, Jean-Denis Beaudoin, Damir Musaev, Hiba Darwich-Codore, Tobias C Walther, Saeed Tavazoie, Daniel Cifuentes, Antonio J Giraldez. Genome-wide analysis of 3’ UTR sequence elements and proteins regulating mRNA stability during maternal-to-zygotic transition in zebrafish. Genome Research. 2019 July 29(7): 1100-1114 *equal contribution

Mohamed A El-Brolosy, Zacharias Kontarakis, Andrea Rossi, Carsten Kuenne, Stefan Günther, Nana Fukuda, Khrievono Kikhi, Giulia LM Boezio, Carter M. Takacs, Shih-Lei Lai, Ryuichi Fukuda, Claudia Gerri, Antonio J Giraldez, Didier YR Stainier. Genetic Compensation triggered by mutant mRNA degradation. Nature. 2019 April 3 568: 193-197

Jean-Denis Beaudoin, Eva Novoa, Charles Vejnar, Valeria Yartseva, Carter M. Takacs, Manolis Kellis, Antonio J. Giraldez. Analyses of mRNA structure dynamics identify embryonic gene regulatory programs. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2018 July: 25, 677-686

Valeria Yartseva*, Carter M. Takacs*, Charles Vejnar, Miler T. Lee, Antonio J. Giraldez. RESA identifies mRNA-regulatory sequences at high resolution. Nature Methods. 2017 Feb: 14(2): 201-207 *equal contribution

Carter M. Takacs and Antonio J. Giraldez. miR-430 regulates oriented cell division during neural tube development. Developmental Biology. 2015 Nov:1606(15): 302025.

Miler T. Lee, Ashley R. Bonneau, Carter M. Takacs, Ariel A. Bazzini, Kate R. DiVito, Elizabeth S. Fleming, and Antonio J. Giraldez. Nanog, Pou5f1 and SoxB1 activate zygotic gene expression during the maternal-to-zygotic transition. Nature. 2013 Nov 21 503(7476):360-4.

Carter M. Takacs and Antonio Giraldez. MicroRNAs as genetic sculptors: Fishing for clues. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology. 2010 Sept 21(7): 760-767.

Hassina Benchabane, Edward G. Hughes, Carter M. Takacs, Jason R. Baird, and Yashi Ahmed. Adenomatous polyposis coli is present near the minimal level required for accurate graded responses to the Wingless morphogen. Development. 2008 March: 135: 963-971. [cover article].

Carter M. Takacs, Jason R. Baird, Edward G. Hughes, Sierra S. Kent, Hassina Benchabane, Raehum Paik and Yashi Ahmed. Dual positive and negative regulation of Wingless signaling by Adenomatous polyposis coli. Science. 2008 Jan: 319 (5861): 333-6.

Jun Wang, Pavan K Karnati, Carter M. Takacs, Joeseph C. Kowalski, and Keith M. Derbyshire. Chromosomal DNA transfer in Mycobacterium smegmatis is mechanistically different from classical Hfr chromosomal transfer. Molecular Microbiology. 2005 Oct: 58(1):280-8

Carter M. Takacs, Gabrielle Amore, Robert D. Burke, and Kevin J. Peterson. Expression of an NK2 homeodomain gene in apical ectoderm defines a new territory in the early sea urchin embryo. Developmental Biology. 2004 May: 269(1): 152-64.

Kevin J. Peterson, Jessica B. Lyons, Kristin S. Nowak, Carter M. Takacs, Mathew J. Wargo, and Mark A. McPeek. Estimating metazoan divergence times using a molecular clock. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2004 April: 101(17): 6536-6541.

Carter M. Takacs, Vanessa N. Moy, and Kevin Peterson. Testing putative homologues of the chordate dorsal nervous system and endostyle: expression of NK2.1 (TTF-1) in the acorn worm Ptychodera flava. Evolution and Development. 2002 Nov: 4(6): 405-17.

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