Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Email: smango@mcb.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-496-7201

Mail: BL3015
The Biological Labs
16 Divinity Ave
Cambridge, MA  02138

Mango Lab Homepage
Members of the Mango Lab
List of Publications from PubMed


MCB 154. Advanced Cell and Developmental Biology
Catalog Number: 83425  View Course Website
Term: [Spring Term .]
Instructor: Susan Mango
Course Level: For Undergraduates and Graduates
Description: This course will survey primary research papers describing topics in molecular and cellular biology. We will focus on areas of disagreement, reading pairs of papers that come to antithetical conclusions. Which is correct? Can both points of view be right? What experiments or controls would bolster the hypotheses of one or the other paper? Topics will focus on seminal findings in cell and developmental biology. Each week a different area will be covered through a combination of paper discussions, an introductory lecture and a quiz.
Note: Intended for advanced undergraduates who have taken MCB 60, or MCB 52 and MCB 54.
Prerequisite(s): MCB 60 or MCB 52 and MCB 54
Meetings: Tu., Th., 3-4:30
MCB 363. Invertebrate Development and Transcriptional Circuitry
Catalog Number: 15771  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term And Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructor: Susan Mango
Course Level: Exclusively for Graduates
DRB 315. Environmental Signaling, Plasticity and Fate Specification during Development
Catalog Number: 29374  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term And Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructor: Susan Mango
Course Level: Exclusively for Graduates
LIFESCI 1a. An Integrated Introduction to the Life Sciences: Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology
Catalog Number: 2137  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term 2014-2015.
Instructors: Daniel Kahne, Richard Losick, Robert Lue, Susan Mango
Course Level: Primarily for Undergraduates
Description: What are the fundamental features of living systems? What are the molecules imparting them and how do their chemical properties explain their biological roles? The answers form a basis for understanding the molecules of life, the cell, diseases, and medicines. In contrast with traditional presentations of relevant scientific disciplines in separate courses, we take an integrated approach, presenting chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology framed within central problems such as the biology of HIV and cancer.
Note: For more information about the assignment process, please see the course website in the fall. This course, in combination with Life Sciences 1b, constitutes an integrated introduction to the Life Sciences. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement in Science of Living Systems.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 1–2:30;
(View all MCB Courses)


To build organs, embryos have evolved mechanisms that integrate the development of complex populations of cells. Our group studies organ formation using a simple organ, the C. elegans pharynx (or foregut), that nonetheless faces the same hurdles that confront organs in more complicated animals. We combine molecular genetics, genomics and cell biological approaches to address four aspects of organogenesis:

Pluripotency and cell-fate acquisition:

Early embryonic cells are born pluripotent, but over time their developmental choices become restricted. We study the processes that mediate the transition from pluripotency to cell-fate acquisition, with a particular focus on the interplay between sequence-specific transcription factors, chromatin organization and nuclear architecture (Yuzyuk 2009, Kiefer 2007).

Transcriptional logic of organogenesis:

Our previous studies revealed that there are ‘organ selector genes’ that encode transcription factors and specify organ identity. We would like to understand how the pharynx selector gene pha-4 coordinates organ formation in space and time. We are particularly interested in the role of DNA binding affinity for temporal control and promoter priming (Gaudet 2002, 2004, Deplancke 2006, Updike 2006).

Nutrition and post-embryonic development.

Despite its simple organization, the nematode digestive tract is highly responsive to nutrient availability. Worms can adjust their rate of feeding, their energy utilization and, most dramatically, their development and growth. Our goal is to probe how the developmental pathways that govern gut development in embryos are redeployed after birth, to sense and respond to food. (Ao 2006, Sheaffer 2008).

Epithelial tubes:

Many organs, including the C. elegans pharynx, are systems of epithelial tubes that provide an essential function by transporting gases or liquids. Epithelial tubes can be formed by remodeling pre-existing sheets of epithelial cells or by constructing tubular epithelia de novo. Nephrons in the kidney are one example of de novo epithelialization, the C. elegans pharynx is another. While significant progress has been made towards understanding the mechanisms that govern folding of epithelial sheets, very little is known about tubulogenesis by de novo epithelialization. In C. elegans, the pharynx tube is formed in the absence of known epithelial regulators such as cadherins, integrins or catenins. A new direction for the lab is to elucidate cadherin-independent epithelial tube formation.


T. Yuzyuk, T. Fakhouri, J. Kiefer and S. E. Mango. The Polycomb Complex Protein mes-2/E(z) promotes the transition from developmental plasticity to differentiation in C. elegans embryos. Developmental Cell, 16(5) 699-710 (2009). (featured article)

Mango, S.E. The C. elegans pharynx: a model for organogenesis. Annual Review in Cell and Developmental Biology, in press

Mango, S.E. Q&A. Current Biology 19(7): R276-R277 (2009).

Sheaffer, K., D.L. Updike and S.E. Mango. The Target of Rapamycin (TOR) pathway antagonizes pha-4/FoxA to control development and aging. Current Biology, 18(18):1355-64 (2008). (featured article)

Von Stetina, S.E. and S.E. Mango. Wormnet: a crystal ball for Caenorhabditis elegans. Genome Biol. 9 (6):226 (2008).

Mango, S.E. A green light to expression in time and space. Nature Biotechnol. 5:645-6 (2007). Comment.

Mango, S.E. The C. elegans pharynx: a model for organogenesis WormBook, ed. The C. elegans Research Community, WormBook, doi/10.1895/wormbook.1.129.1, http://www.wormbook.org. (2007) pp. 1-26. Review.

Jenkins, N., Saam, J.R. and S.E. Mango. CYK-4/GAP provides a localized cue to initiate anteroposterior polarity upon fertilization. Science, 313:1298-301 (2006).

Updike, D.L. and S.E.Mango. Temporal Regulation of Foregut Development by PHA-4/FoxA and Histone Variant HTZ-1/H2A.Z. PLoS Genetics, 2: e161 (2006).

Deplancke, B. A. Mukhopadhyay, W. Ao, A. Elewa, C. A. Grove, N.J. Martinez, R. Sequerra, L. Doucette-Stam, H. A. Tissenbaum, S. E. Mango and A.J. M. Walhout. A gene-centered protein-DNA interaction network of C. elegans digestive tract genes provides insights into metazoan differential gene expression at a systems level, Cell, 16;125(6):1193-205 (2006).

Ao W, Gaudet J., Kent W.J., Muttumu S., and Mango S.E. Environmentally Induced Foregut Remodeling by PHA-4/FoxA and DAF-12/NHR. Science, 305:1743-6 (2004).

Gaudet, J., Muttumu, S., Horner, M.A. and Mango, S.E. Whole Genome Analysis of Temporal Gene Expression During Foregut Development, PLoS Biology, 2: e352 (2004).

Gaudet, J. and S.E. Mango. Regulation of Organogenesis by the Caenorhabditis elegans FoxA Protein PHA-4. Science, 295: 821-825 (2002).

updated: 02/24/2015