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The evolution of mammalian tissue transcriptomes

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Shared mammalian traits include lactation, hair and relatively large brains with unique structures. In addition to these traits, individual lineages have evolved distinct anatomical, physiological and behavioural characteristics relating to differences in reproduction, life span, cognitive abilities and disease susceptibility. The molecular changes underlying these phenotypic shifts and the associated selective pressures have begun to be investigated based on an increasing number of available mammalian genomes. However, although genome analyses may uncover protein-coding changes that potentially underlie phenotypic alterations, regulatory mutations affecting gene expression probably explain many or even most phenotypic differences between species. The development of RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) protocols now allows for accurate and sensitive assessments of transcript sequences and expression levels. We have generated a comprehensive set of RNA -seq data for a large collection of germline and somatic tissues from representatives of all major mammalian lineages (placental mammals, marsupials, and the egg–laying monotremes) and evolutionary outgroups (e.g., birds). On the basis of these data, we have started to investigate various aspects of transcriptome evolution. Current topics include the evolution of protein-coding gene expression levels, long noncoding RNAs, microRNAs, alternative splicing, and X dosage compensation. I will present some highlights of these analyses.

Hosted by Duncan Odom

This talk is part of the Seminars on Quantitative Biology @ CRUK Cambridge Institute series.

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