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Dissecting genomic and transcriptional complexities underlying the immune system

Dissecting genomic and transcriptional complexities underlying the immune system

PhD/Honours project

Mammalian genomes contain a surprisingly small number of protein-coding genes, not many more than invertebrates and fewer that many plants. How is it then possible to produce such complex organisms as humans and other mammals with this few genes? Alternate splicing to generate multiple gene products is one way to achieve greater complexity. Furthermore, mammalian genomes appear to be littered with non-coding RNAs, which are only beginning to be characterised. Thus, the number of potential gene products is far greater than 20,000. The utilisation of different regulatory elements (promoters, enhancer, silencers, etc) can also facilitate complex temporal and tissue-specific gene regulation. We also postulate that defects in appropriate splicing and/or gene regulation underlie many diseases of the immune system, such as autoimmunity, immune deficiency or haematopoietic cancers. This project will investigate these possibilities, and will involve the application of various techniques, including next generation sequencing and other genomic approaches, animal models, and a range of molecular biology and immunology techniques.

References:
Martinez (2012), RNA, 18:1029-40.
Pan (2008), Nat Genetics, 40:1413-15.

Supervised by:

  • Dr Mark Chong
  • Disease Focus:

  • Cancer
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Research Unit:

  • Genomics and immunology