Cross-genomic analysis of human disease genes

Published on September 29, 2008 Reviewed on September 25, 2017   65 min

Other Talks in the Category: Diseases, Disorders & Treatments

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Hello, my name is Ethan Bier, and today I'd like to tell you a little bit about how fruit flies can be used to study the mechanisms of human disease. I refer to this often as cross-genomic analysis of human disease genes, that is using model organisms like fruit flies to understand the mechanism of human disease gene action. Now you might on the surface think how on earth could you possibly use a fruit fly which looks so very different from a human, to study a process which seems so intrinsically human, like human disease? I'd like first to give a little bit of background about how we came to this point of thinking that this is something one can do, and then give you some examples of highlights of what is going to be talks given by other people in this series on this topic and some examples that have come from my own lab. But first I'd just like to give you a little bit of the background again, in terms of why we thought that it might be possible to use fruit flies to study the mechanism of human disease gene action.
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What you're looking at here is a fruit fly embryo about half the way through its development, and what you have here on the left is the nose of the embryo, then it wraps around a little like a horseshoe to the tail, to that tail domain that's in yellow. And what you see are all these stripe patterns of genes that start from the yellow in the tail, go all the way through the red and the blue and the orange, green and purple and blue to the nose. These genes are genes that control the identity of different positions within the body of the fruit fly, they're called Hox genes. One of the very interesting things about Hox genes is that they've been very highly conserved in their function during the course of evolution.
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Cross-genomic analysis of human disease genes

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