Harold M. Weintraub

Harold M. Weintraub
Born Harold M. Weintraub
June 2, 1945
Newark, New Jersey, United States of America
Died March 28, 1995
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Residence U.S.
Nationality U.S.
Fields Molecular biology
Developmental Biology
Institutions MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Princeton University
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
University of Washington
Alma mater Harvard College (BS)
University of Pennsylvania (MD and PhD)
Doctoral advisor Howard Holtzer, Ph.D.
Known for MyoD
Control of Cellular differentiation
Transcription (genetics)
Chromatin structure and function
Notable awards Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry (1982)
Outstanding Investigator Grant, National Institutes of Health (1986)
Richard Lounsbery Award (1991)
Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation Medical Research Award (1991)

Harold M. "Hal" Weintraub was an American scientist who lived from 1945 until his death in 1995 from an aggressive brain tumor. Only 49 years old, Weintraub left behind a legacy of research.[1][2][3]

Early life and education

Born on June 2, 1945 in Newark, New Jersey, Weintraub's childhood revolved around sports, including basketball, an activity he would continue to particularly relish throughout his adult life. Weintraub was also the pitcher for an all-city high school baseball team, and a football fullback.[4]

Weintraub attended Harvard College, obtaining his bachelor's degree in 1967.[4] He then proceeded to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his M.D. and Ph.D. in 1972.[4] Weintraub performed his Ph.D. dissertation research in the laboratory of Howard Holtzer,[5] studying red blood cell development and production (erythropoeisis) in chicken embryos. This work included the study of cell cycle kinetics, hemoglobin synthesis, and the control of cell division.[6] The effects of bromodeoxyuridine on cell differentiation (conversion of a primitive cell into a more specialized cell) were also analyzed.[7] While still only a graduate student, Weintraub's early work contributed significantly to the fields of developmental and cellular biology, yielding numerous peer-reviewed publications and setting the stage for the next chapter in his research explorations.[1]

Research achievements

During his abbreviated career, Weintraub was the author of more than 130 scientific articles, most of which were in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals, including the "Big 3" basic science journals: Cell, Science, and Nature.[8] Weintraub was a member of the National Academy of Sciences,[9] and served as editorial advisor for numerous journals.[4]

Weintraub spent approximately a year at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, England, doing a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratories of Sydney Brenner and Francis Crick. There, his studies of the nucleosome — a basic unit of DNA packaging — showed that its structure was altered when genes were actively transcribed.[1] Weintraub returned to the United States, and between the years 1973-1977 was an Assistant Professor at Princeton University.[10] His research at Princeton, which would continue during his years in Seattle, applied enzymatic and traditional biochemical isolation/separation techniques to clarify the relationship between the physical structure of genes and their expression (the process by which DNA is transcribed into messenger RNA, and eventually into Protein.)[11] Another avenue of research in Weintraub's lab studied the effects of oncoviruses on cellular gene expression.[12]

In 1978, Weintraub joined the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), established in 1971 as an independent affiliate of the University of Washington (UW), Seattle. He was a founding member of the Basic Sciences Division, and professor of genetics at UW. As described in an essay by Marc Kirschner, one of his former colleagues at Princeton, "When most of us left [Princeton] in the late 1970s, Hal, typically concerned more with research opportunity than with glamour, went to a young research institution where the practice of science would be paramount."[2] Weintraub remained at "the Hutch" (the nickname for FHCRC) until his death in 1995. In addition, from 1990-1995 Weintraub was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.[13]

While at FHCRC, Weintraub continued and extended his prior studies of chromatin structure and function.[14][15][16][17] Another of his contributions was developing the technique of using antisense RNA to create specific mutant phenotypes in vertebrate organisms.[18][19] Perhaps the work for which Weintraub is best known was his laboratory's discovery and characterization of "myoD", the first master regulatory gene. When expressed, the myoD gene produces a protein referred to as MyoD (or MyoD1), which can bind certain DNA sequences, stop cell division, and elicit an entire program of muscle cell differentiation. In a series of sequential experiments, Weintraub and his students showed that myoD was able to convert fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) into myoblasts (skeletal muscle cells).[20][21] Later studies by the same group of investigators at FHCRC further characterized the structural and functional characteristics of myoD and its nuclear-localized protein product,[22][23] which were found to be present in organisms as diverse as nematode worms, frogs, mice, and humans.[24] During the final years of his life, Weintraub's work used myoD to delve broadly and deeply into the areas of regulatory proteins, gene expression, and the molecular control of cell differentiation.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31] As part of this work, his lab pioneered a molecular biology technique known as the Selection And Amplification Binding (SAAB) assay, which is used to find the DNA-binding sites for proteins.[32]

Biotechnology Involvement

Along with chemist Peter Dervan of Caltech and developmental biologist Doug Melton of Harvard, Weintraub was one of three core scientific advisors to Michael L. Riordan, founder of Gilead Sciences, helping to establish the company’s scientific vision at its founding during the late 1980s.

Death and Legacy

Weintraub died on March 28, 1995 in Seattle, Washington, as a result of complications from glioblastoma multiforme, a very aggressive and fast-growing brain tumor.[10] He had only been diagnosed six months beforehand, undergoing neurosurgery in an attempt to curb its spread.[3] Weintraub was survived by his wife and two sons.[2] In the years that followed, several items were created in his memory:


  1. 1 2 3 Axel, Richard; Maniatis, Thomas (1995). "Harold Weintraub (1945-1995)". Cell. 81: 317–318. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(95)90382-8.
  2. 1 2 3 Kirschner, Marc (1995). "In memory of Harold Weintraub". Mol Biol Cell. 6: 757–758. doi:10.1091/mbc.6.7.757.
  3. 1 2 Alberts, B (1995). "Harold M. Weintraub (1945-1995)". Nature. 375: 19. doi:10.1038/375019a0.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Beers, Carole (April 1, 1995). "Dr. Harold Weintraub loved genes and jeans". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  5. "Howard Holtzer, Ph.D. (deceased)". University of Pennsylvania - School of Medicine - Howard Holtzer, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  6. Weintraub, H; Campbell Gle, M; Holtzer, H (1971). "Primitive erythropoiesis in early chick embryogenesis. I. Cell cycle kinetics and control of cell division". J Cell Biol. 50: 652–668. doi:10.1083/jcb.50.3.652.
  7. Weintraub, H; Campbell, GL; Holtzer, H (1972). "Identification of a developmental program using bromodeoxyuridine". J Mol Biol. 70: 337–350. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(72)90543-8.
  8. "Pub Med Search for Weintraub H*[Author]". Pub Med: National Center for Biotechnology Information: National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  9. "Harold Weintraub". National Academy of Sciences: Member Directory. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  10. 1 2 Saxon, Wolfgang (March 31, 1995). "Harold Weintraub, 49, biologist who studied cell development". New York Times. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  11. Weintraub, H; Groudine, M (1976). "Chromosomal subunits in active genes have an altered conformation". Science. 193: 848–856. doi:10.1126/science.948749.
  12. Groudine, M; Weintraub, H (1975). "Rous sarcoma virus activates embryonic globin genes in chick fibroblasts". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 72: 4464–4468. doi:10.1073/pnas.72.11.4464.
  13. "Our Scientists". Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  14. Riley, D; Weintraub, H (1979). "Conservative segregation of parental histones during replication in the presence of cycloheximide". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 76: 328–332. doi:10.1073/pnas.76.1.328.
  15. Weisbrod, S; Weintraub, H (1979). "Isolation of a subclass of nuclear proteins responsible for conferring a DNAse I-sensitive structure on globin chromatin". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 76: 630–634. doi:10.1073/pnas.76.2.630.
  16. Seidman, MM; Levine, AJ; Weintraub, H (1979). "The asymmetric segregation of parental nucleosomes during chromosome replication". Cell. 18: 439–49. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(79)90063-1.
  17. Weisbrod, S; Groudine, M; Weintraub, H (1980). "Interaction of HMG 14 and 17 with actively transcribed genes". Cell. 19: 289–301. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(80)90410-9.
  18. Harland, R; Weintraub, H (1985). "Translation of mRNA injected into Xenopus oocytes is specifically inhibited by antisense RNA". J Cell Biol. 101: 1094–1099. doi:10.1083/jcb.101.3.1094.
  19. Weintraub, HM (1990). "Antisense RNA and DNA". Sci Am. 262: 40–46. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0190-40.
  20. Lassar, AB; Paterson, BM; Weintraub, H (1986). "Transfection of a DNA locus that mediates the conversion of 10T1/2 fibroblasts to myoblasts". Cell. 47: 649–656. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(86)90507-6. PMID 2430720.
  21. Tapscott, SJ; Davis, RL; Thayer, MJ; Cheng, PF; Weintraub, H; Lassar, AB (1988). "MyoD1: a nuclear phosphoprotein requiring a Myc homology region to convert fibroblasts to myoblasts". Science. 242: 405–411. doi:10.1126/science.3175662. PMID 3175662.
  22. Thayer, MJ; Tapscott, SJ; Davis, RL; Wright, WE; Lassar, AB; Weintraub, H (1989). "Positive autoregulation of the myogenic determination gene MyoD1". Cell. 58: 241–248. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(89)90838-6.
  23. Lassar, AB; Buskin, JN; Lockshon, D; Davis, RL; Apone, S; Hauschka, SD; Weintraub, H (1989). "MyoD is a sequence-specific DNA binding protein requiring a region of myc homology to bind to the muscle creatine kinase enhancer". Cell. 58: 823–831. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(89)90935-5.
  24. Krause, M; Fire, A; White-Harrison, S; Weintraub, H; Tapscott, S. "Functional conservation of nematode and vertebrate myogenic regulatory factors". J Cell Sci Suppl. 16: 111–115.
  25. Lassar, AB; Thayer, MJ; Overell, RW; Weintraub, H (1989). "Transformation by activated ras or fos prevents myogenesis by inhibiting expression of MyoD1". Cell. 58: 659–667. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(89)90101-3.
  26. Sassoon, D; Lyons, G; Wright, WE; Lin, V; Lassar, A; Weintraub, H; Buckingham, M (1989). "Expression of two myogenic regulatory factors myogenin and MyoD1 during mouse embryogenesis". Nature. 341: 303–307. doi:10.1038/341303a0.
  27. Benezra, R; Davis, RL; Lockshon, D; Turner, DL; Weintraub, H (1990). "The protein Id: a negative regulator of helix-loop-helix DNA binding proteins". Cell. 61: 49–59. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(90)90214-y.
  28. Weintraub, H; Hauschka, S; Tapscott, SJ (1991). "The MCK enhancer contains a p53 responsive element". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 88: 4570–4571. doi:10.1073/pnas.88.11.4570.
  29. Bengal, E; Ransone, L; Scharfmann, R; Dwarki, VJ; Tapscott, SJ; Weintraub, H; Verma, IM (1992). "Functional antagonism between c-Jun and MyoD proteins: a direct physical association". Cell. 68: 507–519. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(92)90187-h. PMID 1310896.
  30. Turner, DL; Weintraub, H (1994). "Expression of achaete-scute homolog 3 in Xenopus embryos converts ectodermal cells to a neural fate". Genes Dev. 8: 1434–1447. doi:10.1101/gad.8.12.1434.
  31. Zhuang, Y; Soriano, P; Weintraub, H (1994). "The helix-loop-helix gene E2A is required for B cell formation". Cell. 79: 875–884. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(94)90076-0.
  32. Blackwell, KT; Weintraub, H (1990). "Differences and similarities in DNA-binding preferences of MyoD and E2A protein complexes revealed by binding site selection". Science. 250: 1104–1110. doi:10.1126/science.2174572.
  33. 1 2 "Weintraub Graduate Student Award". Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: Basic Sciences Division. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  34. "Center hosts 15th Weintraub reunion meeting Nov. 4, 5". Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: Hutch News. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 6/13/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.