Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Travis Wheeler

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Computer Science

Abstract

DNA is the genetic material at the root of all life, and serves as the 'instructions' for biomolecular mechanisms to shape the bodies and synthesize the chemicals that make up an organism. DNA mutations and the forces of natural selection drive the evolution that has resulted in the tremendous diversity of life on earth today. However, despite life's staggering diversity, there still exist many sequences of DNA that share remarkable similarity between organisms, even between species as different as humans and bacteria. This is called conservation. Most conserved DNA encodes genes that produce proteins or RNA that are crucial to the survival of an organism. Here, we seek to understand DNA that remains highly conserved, perhaps over hundreds of millions of years, yet does not encode genes at all. The conservation of such DNA indicates some role that, while vital to species survival, remains to be understood. We employed open source computational tools and developed custom genomics analysis software to investigate these highly conserved non-coding sequences of DNA. Regions of the human genome known to encode proteins and RNA were masked, and the remaining genome was aligned with that of fugu fish (a species with which homo sapiens shares a common ancestor that lived over 400 million years ago) in order to shared reveal noncoding sequences. The collected sequences were then cross-correlated with numerous databases detailing genomic features, with the aim of clustering conserved elements tied to similar features and inferring underlying function.

Category

Life Sciences

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Apr 17th, 11:00 AM Apr 17th, 12:00 PM

Identifying Ancient Conserved Non-Coding DNA Elements

UC South Ballroom

DNA is the genetic material at the root of all life, and serves as the 'instructions' for biomolecular mechanisms to shape the bodies and synthesize the chemicals that make up an organism. DNA mutations and the forces of natural selection drive the evolution that has resulted in the tremendous diversity of life on earth today. However, despite life's staggering diversity, there still exist many sequences of DNA that share remarkable similarity between organisms, even between species as different as humans and bacteria. This is called conservation. Most conserved DNA encodes genes that produce proteins or RNA that are crucial to the survival of an organism. Here, we seek to understand DNA that remains highly conserved, perhaps over hundreds of millions of years, yet does not encode genes at all. The conservation of such DNA indicates some role that, while vital to species survival, remains to be understood. We employed open source computational tools and developed custom genomics analysis software to investigate these highly conserved non-coding sequences of DNA. Regions of the human genome known to encode proteins and RNA were masked, and the remaining genome was aligned with that of fugu fish (a species with which homo sapiens shares a common ancestor that lived over 400 million years ago) in order to shared reveal noncoding sequences. The collected sequences were then cross-correlated with numerous databases detailing genomic features, with the aim of clustering conserved elements tied to similar features and inferring underlying function.