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Molecular Genetics and Systems Biology

Research description

Domestic animals provide a valuable resource for studying the genetics and genomics of phenotypic variation in quantitative traits as well as for the identification of mutations underpinning hereditary defects.

Current research interests

Bo Thomsen:

  • Mapping of quantitative trait loci that affect health and production traits in farm animals
  • Identification of disease-causing mutations and functional studies of proteins involved in hereditary disorders
  • Discovery and functional characterization of microRNA in the farm animal genomes
  • Expression of microRNA and mRNA in muscles in relation to growth and differentiation, muscle exercise and phenotypic traits
  • Characterization of genomic structural variation

Lars-Erik Holm:

  • Genetic mapping of genes and genetic variation in especially cattle and sheep and with relevance for the breeding industry
  • Resequencing of selected regions of the genome of cattle with the aim of identifying genetic variation of importance for the breeding industry

Knud Larsen

My research project aims at developing pig models for human neurodegenerative diseases, primarily Parkinson's disease (PD). We try to generate transgenic pig models that develop the disease. The inherited (family) types of PD form the basis for our studies. Mutations in at least 15 different named human genes are known to induce hereditary forms of Parkinson's disease. The experimental work involves isolation and characterization of pig genes whose human homologues / orthologists are known to be associated with PD.

We also investigate whether splicing variants of the involved genes may be linked to disease development. Expression assays and overexpression of wild-type genes as well as mutated versions thereof are performed in various mammalian cells including pigs fibroblast cells. Transgenic pigs are generated with mutated versions of selected candidate genes using two different transgenic techniques. One is a combination of homologous recombination, nuclear transfer and animal cloning, and the other method of transgenesis uses lentivirus. In addition, I continuously try to identify natural pigment models for neurodegenerative diseases.

In various other research projects I also deal with general animal molecular genetics.

Frank Panitz: Analysis of genetic variation. A major goal of molecular genetics is to understand the complex interactions of genetic influences by interpreting the effects of DNA sequence variation.

By using high-throughput sequencing platforms we are investigating transscript abundance and genetic variation in relation to phenotypic traits in different populations or individuals (e.g. genetic disease resistance in pigs and cattle). Applications range from large-scale genomic (re)sequencing, transcript profiling and de-novo sequencing of bacterial genomes to global SNP detection and analysis of structural variation in complex genomes. As the novel sequencing technologies produce vast amounts of raw data, our major objective is the development of bioinformatic workflows, comprising programming of scripts and algorithms to process and analyse genome-wide data, including sequence analysis, clustering, assembly, identification of variation, genome annotation and functional mapping.

Section coordinator

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