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HAZU Bioinformatics Team Makes Progress in Human Genome Evolution

Recently, Molecular Biology and Evolution, a major international journal in the field of evolutionary biology, online published the research progress of human genome evolution made by research team from College of Informatics of Huazhong Agricultural University. Headlined by Spatial Colocalization of Human Ohnolog pairs Acts to Maintain Dosage-balance, the research reveals that ohnologs, paralogous gene pairs generated by whole genome duplication (WGD), exhibit higher spatial proximity in 3D nuclear organization and benefits the maintenance of dosage balance in ohnologs.

Xie Ting, doctoral student and Yang Qingyong, associate professor from College of Informatics are parallel first authors. Prof. Aoife McLysaght in Trinity College Dublin and Professor Zhang Hongyu of HZAU are corresponding authors. And the College of Informatics is the first organization.

During the long evolution of human genes, genome has been completely duplicated twice. Theoretically, duplication results in much gene redundancy, while most ohnologs were rapidly lost. In fact, about 1/3 ohnologs in human genome remained until now. Why so many remained has been the focus in human genome evolution research.

They find that ohnologs and their pairs are in spatial proximity though located in different chromosomes, by analyzing the data of 3D structure of human genes and information about gene copy number variations and gene co-expression and function annotation. These ohnologs with spatial proximity has a higher tendency of co-expression, producing more functionally similar genes and fewer duplication variations. Therefore, the variations of ohnologs are more likely to be disease-associated genes. This paper concludes that high spatial proximity of ohnologs contributes to their dosage balance, which provides a new perspective on ohnologs retention mechanism research. Thus it is of great significance to screen disease-associated genes and drug targets.

Since 2011, the bioinformatics team led by Prof.Yuan Yijun, enlisted in the Recruitment Program of Global Experts, has conducted research in 3D genome research. In the past three years, 3 papers have been published in important international periodicals like Nucleic Acids Research and Molecular Plant. This latest progress further proves the significance of three-dimensional genome in gene evolution research and consolidates the dominant position of HAZU in three-dimensional genomics.

(By Zhang Ying)