Title: "An Interdisciplinary Investigation of Transcriptional Changes in the Aging Eye"

Vikki Weake and Hana Hall; Department of Biochemistry, Purdue University
Patrick Medina and Jeremiah Rounds; Department of Statistics, Purdue University

Place: Materials and Electrical Engineering (MSEE) B012
Date: March 31, 2015; Tuesday
Time: 4:30pm

Advanced age is a major environmental risk factor for ocular diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Notably, more than 3.6 million Americans aged 40 years and older are visually impaired, and this number is expected to dramatically increase as the US population ages. During aging and the pathogenesis of ocular disease, significant changes in chromatin correlate with, and contribute to, misregulation of gene expression. An important question is whether defects in epigenetic processes that activate transcription drive age-related changes in photoreceptor gene expression and increase susceptibility to ocular disease. Long-lived photoreceptor neurons might be uniquely vulnerable to the effects of aging because they must continue to express high levels of phototransduction proteins to maintain their function throughout the adult lifespan. Understanding these fundamental epigenetic mechanisms is critical to developing therapeutic interventions.

This is a team presented seminar involving two research groups from Purdue University. Biological scientists from the Weake laboratory (Department of Biochemistry) will provide the background, motivation, question, and technology employed for their investigation of changes in gene expression that occur in aging photoreceptors using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster - an excellent model for both epigenetics and aging. Statistical bioinformaticians from the Doerge group will explain the statistical design of the experiment, the importance of understanding different sources of variation, and the considerations that must be made in analyzing the final data the unique opportunity that this collaboration provides them with respect to working with experimental data. Thus far in this project, the experimental design has been established, and RNA has been isolated from the nuclei of photoreceptor cells of male flies at distinct time points during the aging process. Multiplexed libraries have been generated using NuGen Ovation RNA-seq system and sequenced using the Illumina next generation sequencing technology.

Associated reading:
Auer and Doerge. 2010. Statistical design and analysis of RNA sequencing data. Genetics 185(2):405-416.

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