- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
- Molecular Biology
How do cells and nature "compute"? They read and "rewrite" DNA all the time, by processes that modify sequence at the DNA or RNA level. My laboratory combines three approaches—comparative sequence analysis, functional experiments, and computational biology—to study early molecular evolution and the origin of biological information processing.
DNA sequence analysis provides us with insight into the mechanisms of selection and evolution at the level of the gene. The discovery of catalytic RNA, furthermore, has led to advances in the study of the origin of life, and suggests that there are other "molecular fossils," or primitive biological mechanisms, still present in modern species. Protozoa, in particular, have surprised molecular biologists with a bewildering diversity of gene organization, from "scrambled genes" in ciliates to bizarre forms of RNA processing, including splicing and editing. Therefore, they seem to be the natural place to look for primitive or aberrant systems.
1. Nowacki M, Vijayan V, Zhou Y, Schotanus K, Doak TG, Landweber LF. (2008) RNA-mediated epigenetic programming of a genome-rearrangement pathway. Nature 451: 153-158.
2. Landweber LF. (2007) Genetics. Why genomes in pieces? Science 318: 405-407.
3. Zhou Y, Landweber LF. (2007) BLASTO: a tool for searching orthologous groups. Nucl Acids Res 35: W678-682.
4. Liang H, Landweber LF. (2007) Hypothesis: RNA editing of microRNA target sites in humans? RNA 13: 463-467.
5. Liang H, Zhou W, Landweber LF. (2006) SWAKK: a web server for detecting positive selection in proteins using a sliding window substitution rate analysis. Nucl Acids Res 34: W382-384.