Evolutionary origins of human transcriptomes
(April 23, 2012 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM)
The genetic differences that separate humans from other great apes seem modest, yet we are a prominent phenotypic outlier in several regards. Although little is known about the genetic and molecular bases underlying uniquely human traits, changes in gene regulation are likely an important component. My group is currently investigating changes in the transcriptomes of multiple tissues that accompanied human origins. We use genome-wide functional assays to identify the molecular mechanisms that mediate evolutionary changes in transcription, including the role of chromatin configuration and the function of noncoding RNAs. These assays highlight genomic regions of particular interest, where we have carried out focused functional analyses that provide insights into the evolution of human diet and brain size.