The non-coding genome: LINCing regulatory elements and evolution of the human brain

31. March 2022
12:00 til 13:00

BMC Seminar Thursday 31st of March at 12:00 on Zoom:

Speaker: Dr. Diahann Atacho, Laboratory of Molecular Neurogenetics, Department of Experimental Medical Science, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center and Lund Stem Cell Center, Lund University

Title: The non-coding genome: LINCing regulatory elements and evolution of the human brain

Abstract: Most of the current knowledge of brain development relies on studies of evolutionary conserved developmental pathways. Unfortunately, these studies do not take into consideration that key genetic changes must have occurred in order for the human brain to have developed into the complex machinery it is. Over the last 30-40 million years of evolution, the primate brain has expanded in size and complexity, resulting in a new level of cognitive functions. Our closest now-living relative – the chimpanzee – is more than 98% identical to humans in protein-coding sequences, so it is unlikely that species-specific gene variations are the sole drivers of differences in brain complexity. Thus, much of the genetic basis for the difference in primate and human brains is likely stored in the non-coding part of the genome. Identifying and unravelling the role the non-coding genome plays in the brain will be key for our understanding of human brain development and associated disorders, and potentially open up new avenues for research on treatment.

Dr. Diahann Atacho

Short bio: BSc in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University of Maastricht. MSc in Medical Neuroscience from Charité Medical University in Berlin. Gap year at Columbia University in NYC. PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Iceland under supervision of Pétur Henry Petersen and Eiríkur Steingrimsson on MITF in the Central Nervous System in 2018. Postdoc at Lund University ever since.