Laura and I gave talks at the annual ASHG meeting in Orlando earlier this month on our work to understand how interbreeding with archaic hominins has influenced modern humans and what it can tell us about these groups.
Science, Nature, and several other news outlets covered our talks:
Modern humans lost DNA when they left Africa—but mating with Neandertals brought some back
Geneticists are starting to unravel evolution’s role in mental illness
Ling and Alex’s paper about the factors that determine the evolutionary conservation of enhancer activity across species has been published in Genome Biology and Evolution! We studied maps of liver enhancers across 20 mammalian species and found that enhancers with conserved activity have higher regulatory potential, are active in more contexts, and regulate more genes than enhancers that are not conserved. This argues that pleiotropy is associated with the conservation of regulatory regions across mammalian evolution.
Gene regulatory enhancers with evolutionarily conserved-activity are more pleiotropic than those with species-specific-activity
Patrick Abbott and I just published a Insight article in eLife about a recent manuscript that demonstrated similarities between genes expression dynamics in the short-lived marsupial placenta and marsupial mammary glands with genes expressed in eutherian placentas. This illustrates that many developmental functions in marsupials and eutherian mammals are accomplished by different tissues, but similar genes. We argue that similar comparative genomics approaches will yield more insights into the evolution and molecular basis of pregnancy.
What’s a placental mammal, anyway?
Congratulations to former intern Vir Patel on the publishing of his paper about how the evolutionary histories of miRNAs are informative about their functions and potential to cause disease. Vir started this project several years ago as a summer intern and worked hard to finish it over the past year. Great job Vir!
Ancient human miRNAs are more likely to have broad functions and disease associations than young miRNAs
We are delighted to welcome Abin Abraham, a new MD/PhD student, to the lab. Abin will join the Human Genetics PhD program. He is interested in understanding the genetic architecture and evolution of diseases of pregnancy. Abin graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S.E in Biomedical Engineering.
Congratulations to Corinne for publishing her paper on how transposable elements gain enhancer activity in Molecular Biology and Evolution. Check it out:
Transposable Element Exaptation into Regulatory Regions is Rare, Influenced by Evolutionary Age, and Subject to Pleiotropic Constraints
Congratulations to Laura for publishing her first paper! If you are interested in how enhancers’ DNA sequences influence their activity take a look. Spoiler alert: patterns are different between humans and flies!
Short DNA sequence patterns accurately identify broadly active human enhancers
Ling, Laura, David, and I will be heading to Austin this week for SMBE 2017.
I’m organizing a symposium on Tuesday on the Evolution of Gene Regulation. Ling will give a talk on Tuesday at 1:30pm on “Sequence properties of enhancers are conserved across mammals”. Laura will present her poster “Sequence characteristics distinguish enhancers from promoters” (POA-264), and David will present his poster “A fly in the ointment: compensatory mutations in Drosophila gene deletion strains may confound reproducibility” (POB-123).
Stop by if you are interested!
We are very happy to welcome Souhrid Mukherjee as a new PhD student in our group. Souhrid will join the Biological Sciences PhD program. He is interested in integrating a systems biology perspective into our work on personalized structural biology. He has a B.S and M.S in Biochemistry, from the University of Calcutta.
Congratulations to Greg Sliwoski for winning the best presentation award for his talk “A clinic-driven pipeline for prioritizing variants of unknown significance with personalized structural biology” at the 2017 Department of Biomedical Informatics Research Forum!