Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Jennifer Lanni

Jennifer Lanni

Assistant Professor in Biology

Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
B.A., Amherst College

Research Interests

I am interested in how size is regulated in appendages such as limbs or fins.   My research uses the zebrafish, a small vertebrate which shares many of its genes and proteins with humans.  Thus, by studying size regulation in zebrafish, I may gain insight into similar pathways in mammals.   I have two primary research projects, described below.

How do appendages ”know” when to stop growing?  I am studying a family of genes that, when mutated, cause dramatic fin overgrowth in zebrafish.  Surprisingly, these proteins all regulate potassium levels, which is a very basic cellular function.   My goal is to determine how potassium levels can determine the size of an organ.  One approach I will utilize is to express the altered genes in specific tissues or at certain times in zebrafish development, and observe which expression patterns are sufficient to cause fin overgrowth.

Can we use zebrafish to model human disorders of size regulation?  Through a collaboration with researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, I am studying genes that are altered in children with the rare disorder macrodactyly.  These patients have one or more greatly enlarged fingers or toes that require multiple corrective surgeries.    By taking the mutated genes we have identified in patients and introducing them into zebrafish, I am currently attempting to develop an animal model of this disorder.  If successful, this will permit a better understanding of the genetic origin of macrodactyly and may allow me to test targeted therapeutics on fish.


Teaching Interests

I teach Biochemistry in the fall semester and Microbiology in the spring.  In the future, I will also teach an upper level seminar course on Topics in Biochemistry.  I am the co-coordinator for the Biochemistry program, along with Professor Pastra-Landis in the Chemistry Department.


Other Interests

I spend as much time as possible with my husband and three children.  We enjoy travel, especially visiting the National Parks.  I also enjoy reading, yoga, and cooking.



Kunduru, H., Lanni, J., Shields, J., Andreeva, V., Fraher, D., and Yelick, P. (2012) Characterizing the phenotype of the novel zebrafish mutant 152N [abstract]. J. Dent Res 91(Spec Iss A): 1553.

Lanni, J.S., and Jacks, T. (1998).  Characterization of the p53-dependent post-mitotic checkpoint following spindle disruption.  Mol. Cell. Biol. 18: 1055-1064.

Lanni, J.S., Lowe, S.W., Licitra, E.J., Liu, J.O., and Jacks, T. (1997).  p53-independent apoptosis induced by paclitaxel through an indirect mechanism.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94: 9674-9678.

Dietrich, W.F., Radany, E.H., Smith, J.S., Bishop, J.M., Hanahan, D., and Lander, E.S. (1994).  Genome-wide search for loss of heterozygosity in transgenic mouse tumors reveals candidate tumor suppressor genes on chromosomes 9 and 16.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91: 9451-9455.

Dietrich, W.F., Lander, E.S., Smith, J.S., Moser, A.R., Gould, K.A., Luongo, C., Borenstein, N., and Dove, W. (1993).  Genetic identification of Mom-1, a major modifier locus affecting Min-induced intestinal neoplasia in the mouse.  Cell 75: 631-639.

Kusumi, K., Smith, J.S., Segre, J.A., Koos, D.S., and Lander, E.S. (1993).  Construction of a large-insert yeast artificial chromosome library of the mouse genome.  Mammalian Genome 4: 391-392.