Genetics, Evolution and Bioinformatics

Transposable Elements

The evolution of TE families, primarily in mammals has been the defining topic of my evolutionary genetics career. Working with John Brookfield at the University of Nottingham, we have looked at the origin of many TE families in mammals and traced their histories to the present day.

Hellen EHB & Brookfield JFY (2013) Transposable element invasions. Mobile Genetic Elements. 3(1), 100-108.

Hellen EHB & Brookfield JFY. (2013) Alu elements in primates are preferentially lost from areas of high GC content. PeerJ 1:e78.

Species Evolution

One of the most interesting questions in evolution, the key question in my opinion, is how species evolve. What causes a species to divide in two in a permanent (or at least semi-permanent) manner? Is it just the accumulation of mutations over time? Do these changes need to be large, or can many small changes have this effect? Is it based on genetic or geographic isolation?

Riesch, R., Muschick, M., Lindtke, D., Villoutreix, R., Comeault, A. A., Farkas, T. E., … & de Carvalho, C. F. (2017). Transitions between phases of genomic differentiation during stick-insect speciation. Nature ecology & evolution1(4), 0082.

Hellen, EHB (2015) Inversions and Evolution of the Human Genome. eLS. 1–6.

Hellen EHB & Kern AD (2015) The Role of DNA Insertions in Phenotypic Differentiation between Humans and Other Primates. Genome Biol Evol. 7 (4):1168-1178.

Transcription Factors

During my Phd I studied transcription factors and transcription factor binding sites (TFBS), primarily looking at prediction algorithms and at whether gene function can be predicted by analysis of the transcription factors regulating it.

Flower K*, Hellen E* et al. (2010) Evaluation of a prediction protocol to identify potential targets of epigenetic reprogramming by the cancer associated Epstein Barr Virus. PLOS One. 5:e9443. *Joint first authors

Other Bioinformatics

I have also provided bioinformatics support for a number of other studies – primarily sequence similarity searching, phylogeny and genomic annotation.

Maguire J et al. (2015) Myristoylated CIL-7 regulates ciliary extracellular vesicle biogenesis. Mol. Biol. Cell. 26(15):2823-2832.

Cottage A et al. (2005) Molecular characterisation of the SAND protein family: a study based on comparative genomics, structural bioinformatics and phylogeny. Cellular & Molecular Biology Letters. 

Also published as:

Cottage A et al. (2005) Predicting Protein Function and Structure Using Bioinformatics Protocols: A Case Study of the SAND Protein Family. Nato Science Series Sub Series I Life and Behavioural Sciences. 368:162.