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Colloquium - Stuart

A Genome-Wide Signaling Map for Animals
University of California, Santa Cruz
4/21/2008
12:00pm-1:00pm

The consequences of knocking down expression can shed light on the role of a gene in cellular processes. However, most knock-downs lead to no observable phenotype, demonstrating the robustness of cells to genetic information damage. Multiple knock-downs, in which the expression of two or more genes is silenced, can reveal functional couplings between genes.

To date, most genome-wide synthetic genetic screens have been conducted in single-cellular organisms. We have concluded a collaboration to systematically screen genetic interactions among signaling genes in the multicellular animal, C. elegans. The incorporation of our data with co-expression, protein interaction, and co-phenotype interactions enabled the identification of new modules of gene activity supported by multiple lines of evidence. We experimentally verified one subnetwork's involvement in fat accumulation as predicted by the superimposed network.

The superimposed network allowed a first glimpse at how genetic interactions integrate into the systems biology of C. elegans. We find that synthetic genetic interactions bridge across, rather than within, pathways, as has been found in previous studies in yeast. Thus, functional redundancy in metazoans may extend beyond individual gene pairs to a higher (modular) level of organization within the system. However, the specific linkages between modules do not appear to be conserved, as worms contain different connections than yeast. We speculate that synthetic genetic connections are free to neutrally drift, allowing selection for new couplings between pathways that may, in part, allow the emergence of new form and function.

EKLC 338 is the CIRES Auditorium and is on the third floor of the Ekeley Sciences Building.

Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
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