This research presentation concerned utilized comparative genomics in order to find functional characteristics of the immune response, mapping the response eQTLs to infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Evolutionary changes in anatomy/way of life often based on changes in mecahnisms controlling the expression of genes rather than on sequence changes in proteins – thus, regulation is key to the adaptation of organisms. Sequencing RNA from 4n of 16 different species, it was found that natural selection played a roll on gene expression levels, as the patterns became consistent amongst the samples as generations went on. However, little was known about the mechanisms underlying this consistency in gene expression levels across species. It was then investigated whether there was a correlation between methylation and expression levels, and more specifically, whether H3K4me3 status explained inter-species differences in gene expression. It was found that there were modest, but significant differences between primates due to changes in these epigenetic factors. Moving into the case study of the immune response, specifically looking at TLR4, an LPS responder, its expression was investigated in a timecourse throughout the response in monocytes. Common and species specific immune regulatory responses were compared in differentially expressed genes after the response. It was ultimately found that there was a reduction in variance following infection, as the gene expression levels between species converged overall. This was rationalized as that the network needs to hit a particular state, common to the infection, and that regulation strives towards this. Looking at the enrichment of functional categories of genes, this is the main difference between species, although all reach a similar steady state in response to infection.
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Currently I am a Ph.D. student in the Department of Immunobiology at Yale University. My interests are broad, spanning the whole spectrum of arts, sciences, and humanities. This includes music, illustration/design, photography, writing, technology, advocacy, and developing my career as a scientist.
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