B3 Ancient and modern genes – tracing the evolutionary pathway to disease

PI: PD Dr. Jürgen Schmitz
Research Group: Institute of Experimental Pathology, Center for Molecular Biology of Inflammation (ZMBE)
Co-PI: Dr. Francesco Catania
Doctoral students: Fengjun Zhang, Raphael Steffen

In mammals, jumping genes (transposons) are highly active and from time to time randomly jump into introns where they influence the transcription of exons and the expression of genes. Over the course of evolution this might lead to novel gene function but can also lead to dysfunction and disease. This three-year PhD project involves genome-wide, multi-species computer screening for and experimental verification of insertions of jumping elements that led to significant changes in our genetic constitution, providing an exciting opportunity to ‘visualize’ millions of years of gene evolution leading to genetic novelties or diseases.