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Role of gene regulation in the evolution of morphology

Grant number: 12/23360-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2013
Effective date (End): April 30, 2014
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Morphology of Recent Groups
Principal Investigator:Miguel Trefaut Urbano Rodrigues
Grantee:Juliana Gusson Roscito
Supervisor: Michael Hiller
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Max Planck Society, Dresden, Germany  
Associated to the scholarship:12/01319-8 - Developmental mechanisms of limb reduction in Squamata, BP.PD


Cis-regulatory elements are specific DNA sequences rich in transcription factor binding sites; such elements are involved in modulating and establishing temporal and spatial patterns of gene expression. Changes in the expression of genes responsible for patterning embryonic structures are considered as important sources for evolutionary variations in morphology. The development and popularization of next-generation sequencing methods and computational tools for analyzing genome structure and predicting and measuring the evolutionary conservation of cis-regulatory elements and of binding sites for transcription factors is allowing for a throughout identification and characterization of the organization of cis-regulatory modules scattered through the genome. This project is based on the utilization of computational tools for a comparative analysis of vertebrate genomes in order to identify cis-regulatory elements related to controlling the expression of genes involved in limb patterning, and estimate their conservation over evolutionary time. Some of these previously identified elements will be sequenced for lizard species with well-developed limbs and with reduced/absent limbs, and screened for possible changes in binding sites for transcription factors; this approach will allow for the identification of possible relationships between the structure of cis-regulatory elements and limb phenotypes. (AU)

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