The Gruber Foundation proudly presents the 2022 Genetics Prize to Ruth Lehmann, James Priess, and Geraldine Seydoux for discovering how early nematode (Priess and Seydoux) and fruitfly (Lehmann) embryos set aside particular cells during development, especially germ cells that result in intergenerational inheritance.
Their research employed genetic screens and elegant molecular analyses to characterize mysterious “germ granules” located in oocytes and early embryos. Germ granules house mRNAs whose regulated translation and localization specify germ cells and protect them from premature transcription. Germ granules utilize a novel mechanism, phase separation, relevant to many other particulate cellular structures and to organismal development. These seminal genetic findings illuminated normal biology and furthered our understanding of nuclear inheritance, while highlighting the power of model organisms to reveal the mysteries of life.