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Using Methylation Patterns in Humans to Identify Genetic Regions Enabling Rapid Adaptation to Environmental Pressures

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While DNA takes a long time to evolve, the epigenetic programming that activates and silences our DNA is more malleable. Thus humans can exploit epigenetics to adjust rapidly to changing environments, by activating genes that facilitate adaptation to pathogens and climates, etc. Consistent with this, some genomic regions show highly variable methylation across individuals, with evidence that such variation is controlled by alleles at specific genetic loci. This project will develop statistical software to identify such loci and determine whether they are undergoing selection, applying it to unpublished genome-wide methylation and genotype data from over 250 Gambians and >700 Indians.

Disciplines and Techniques
Project supervisor/s
Dr. Matt Silver
Matt's research is in applying techniques from statistics and machine learning to the analysis of genome wide data, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of genetic and epigenetic factors influencing disease and development
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Dr. Garrett Hellenthal
Garrett's research is focussed on applying statistical methods to infer human history using genetic data
University College London
References
Scheinfeldt & Tishkoff (2013), Nature Reviews Genetics, 14:692-702
Scheinfeldt & Tishkoff
Nature Reviews Genetics, 14:692-702
2013
Silver et al (2015), FASEB J, 29:3426-35
Silver et al
FASEB J, 29:3426-35
2015
Van Baak et al (2018), Genome Biology, 19:2
Van Baak et al
Genome Biology, 19:2
2018
Chandak, Silver et al (2017), BMC Nutrition, 3:81
Chandak, Silver et al
BMC Nutrition, 3:81
2017
Ek et al (2018), Human Molecular Genetics, 27(5):799-810
Ek et al
Human Molecular Genetics, 27(5):799-810
2018