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Kaessmann Lab

Research Interests

Functional evolution of mammalian genomes

Research Area

Mammals are characterized by specific phenotypic traits that include lactation, hair, and relatively large brains with unique structures. Individual mammalian lineages have, in turn, evolved characteristic traits that distinguish them from others. These include obvious anatomical differences but also differences related to reproduction, life span, cognitive abilities, behavior, and disease susceptibility. The molecular changes (i.e., changes in protein/RNA sequences or expression levels) underlying these phenotypic shifts and the associated selective pressures have only recently begun to be investigated based on an increasing number of available mammalian genomes. Our group performs integrated bioinformatics analyses pertaining to the functional evolution of mammalian genes (and associated phenotypic changes) on the basis of publicly available genomic data as well as data generated by the wet lab unit of the group. We have been interested in a range of topics related to the functional evolution of genomes from primates and other mammals. In the framework of our current projects, we are producing large amounts of transcriptome and genome (e.g., epigenome) data for a unique collection of tissues from representative mammals and outgroup species (e.g., birds) using next generation sequencing technologies. Topics of current projects that are based on these data include the origins and/or functional evolution of protein-coding genes, alternative splicing, long noncoding RNAs, microRNAs, and sex chromosomes.

Additional Information

Lab Head: Henrik Kaessmann


Institution: University of Heidelberg

Center for Molecular Biology
Heidelberg University (ZMBH),
DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance

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