University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Vasa: Understanding Genomic Rearrangement in Lamprey

Presenter Information

Sarah Whelan, University of Kentucky

Institution

University of Kentucky

Abstract

Lampreys undergo massive genomic rearrangements early in their development, resulting in a situation where in an individual’s somatic cells possess a genome that is dramatically different from its germ cells. While understanding these rearrangements can be beneficial to understanding diseases in humans, there are no existing genetic markers that can be used to track germline through the lampreys development. The vasa gene makes an ideal marker for tracking germline development because it is specifically expressed in the germline of nearly every animal species. However, the lamprey vasa gene had yet to be isolated and sequenced. In order to do this, several polymerase chain reactions (PCR) were performed to isolate the vasa transcript and individual introns, using computational predictions from a highly fragmentary genome assembly. Additionally, computational sequence alignment was used to compare the vasa gene in lamprey to its human homolog. Notably, several lamprey vasa introns are characterized by large inverted repeats at their 5’ and 3’ ends, which are not seen in the human vasa gene. We speculate that this unique structure may be related to germline regulation of vasa. Cloning and sequencing the vasa gene has set the stage for more in-depth characterization of germline development in lamprey and genome rearrangement.

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Vasa: Understanding Genomic Rearrangement in Lamprey

Lampreys undergo massive genomic rearrangements early in their development, resulting in a situation where in an individual’s somatic cells possess a genome that is dramatically different from its germ cells. While understanding these rearrangements can be beneficial to understanding diseases in humans, there are no existing genetic markers that can be used to track germline through the lampreys development. The vasa gene makes an ideal marker for tracking germline development because it is specifically expressed in the germline of nearly every animal species. However, the lamprey vasa gene had yet to be isolated and sequenced. In order to do this, several polymerase chain reactions (PCR) were performed to isolate the vasa transcript and individual introns, using computational predictions from a highly fragmentary genome assembly. Additionally, computational sequence alignment was used to compare the vasa gene in lamprey to its human homolog. Notably, several lamprey vasa introns are characterized by large inverted repeats at their 5’ and 3’ ends, which are not seen in the human vasa gene. We speculate that this unique structure may be related to germline regulation of vasa. Cloning and sequencing the vasa gene has set the stage for more in-depth characterization of germline development in lamprey and genome rearrangement.