25.04.2014 - 09:59
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Selenium and Genome Annotation (Sergi Castellano)

Much of our work focuses on the identification and characterization of functional elements in eukaryotic genomes, primarily using selenium-dependent genes as our study system. On the one hand, we develop and apply computational tools to identify selenoproteins and other genomic features. On the other, we use population genetics and molecular evolution approaches to study their evolution. Because nutrition is a prominent selective force in humans and other primates, we are particularly interested in whether differences in dietary selenium have shaped the use and regulation of selenoproteins in these species. We are also interested in more theoretical aspects of sequence evolution.

Ongoing projects include:

  • Understanding the genetic basis of adaptations in selenoprotein gene regulation to levels of dietary selenium in primates.
  • Assessing the exchangeability between cysteine and selenocysteine, the 21st amino acid in the genetic code, in protein function.
  • Database development: SelenoDB.
  • Software development: simulation of sequence divergence under explicit selective pressures.
  • Assorted genome analysis problems.