Structural-functional landscapes of the human genome – Nuclear Biology in the postgenomic era

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Despite of the technological advances at their aim accelerating at an unprecedented pace, researchers in the field of biological sciences are still far from being able to provide concise theoretical frameworks for well-described biological problems. Ten years after the completion of the first draft of the human genome sequence there appears to be poor progress in the field of genomics in terms of understanding of crucial processes such as the regulation of DNA replication and RNA transcription as the bases of the multicellular organization of life.

The ever-rising complexity of biological systems is one the main reasons behind this apparent lag. The more we dig in the cell, the more components we find to be involved in the core biological processes. This entanglement is interestingly manifest at the basic level of the structure and the form of eukaryotic chromosomes. Increasing evidence supports a vital connection between the conformation of the DNA in the form of chromosomes and their subsequent activation and employment by the cell's molecular machinery, between the distribution of structural elements in the genome and the one of their functional counterparts. Under this prospect, our view of genomics is to be radically widened in order to incorporate a notion of the "genotype's phenotype", meaning the way the recursive relationship through which the structure of the genomic text affects its coordinated expression and thus its own sustainability through evolution.

In this talk, we will provide some interesting results on the interplay between DNA structure and function from the point of view of nucleosome-assisted regulation of RNA transcription. Nucleosomes comprise the fundamental level of DNA compaction in the nucleus of eukaryotic organisms. Their exact or relative positions on the assumed linear genome, once thought of as random, are shown to be important for the regulation of specific cell functions. We will discuss ways with which one may attempt to computationally predict the positioning of nucleosomes as well as how one may try to infer the positions by analyses of complex, high-throughput experimental data. We will also show how the inferred structural components are related with functional attributes of the genome. In conclusion we will discuss future perspectives in the pursuit of our better understanding of the genome's structure in relation with its functionality.

Wed, 09/02/2011 - 14:00
Main Lecture Room

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