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Department of Statistics
The University of Chicago
Testing for Natural Selection on Conserved
Non-genic Sequences in Mammals
MONDAY October 31, 2005 at 2:30 pm
110 Eckhart Hall, 5734 S. University Avenue
The observation of high DNA sequence conservation across long periods of evolutionary
time is thought to be a good signal of important regions. Otherwise, the similarity between
sequences of species would have eroded by neutral mutation processes. This is also why,
in general, higher conservation is expected in genic regions than non-genic regions. However, recently researchers have found highly conserved non-genic regions (CNGs), and have
suggested that these regions contain functional elements that have roles in gene regulation.
Given this new observation, we can ask biologically interesting questions such as: Are there
CNGs that are positively selected on the human lineage but not on the other mammalian
lineages? What are the interesting evolutionary patterns of CNGs? Do these evolutionary
patterns vary with the levels of conservation?
In my proposal talk, I will present statistical methods that I have been developing to
answer these questions. I will explain how I have constructed a database of CNGs and
implemented an EM algorithm to estimate the parameters. I will also show preliminary
results and talk about several statistical issues which need to be addressed in the future.
Information about building access for persons with disabilities may be obtained in advance by calling the department
office at (773) 702-8333.