Dr. Melike Dönertaş on Temporal changes in gene expression across individuals, organs, and cells

Dr. Melike Dönertaş will give a seminar on “Temporal changes in gene expression across individuals, organs, and cells” on 17 January at 13:40. The abstract of the talk and a short bio is shared below.

Dr. Dönertaş is a postdoctoral researcher at the Leibniz Institute on Aging. She completed her BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics and her MSc in Biological Sciences, both at METU. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge as an EMBL fellow. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging. She has worked on a variety of topics ranging from cheminformatics to evolutionary genomics and ancient DNA studies, but her main research focus is on ageing, age-related diseases, and anti-ageing interventions.

Unlike development, ageing is not thought of as a programmed process but a result of cellular and evolutionary stochastic events. Thus, comparative analysis of development and ageing periods can help understand the underlying mechanisms and characteristics of ageing. This seminar will summarise our recent work, comparing gene expression changes during postnatal development and ageing across individuals, organs, and cells. Using transcriptome datasets covering the whole lifespan, we study how the level and between-individual variability of gene expression changes with age. We first show that, in the human brain, increased heterogeneity is characteristic for ageing but not for development. Moreover, the temporal trend in gene expression during development does not necessarily continue to the ageing period, at which half of the expression trajectories are reversed. Studying this phenomenon in multiple tissues of mice, we found that these reversals are associated with tissue-specific functions and contribute to an interesting phenomenon that tissues diverge from each other during postnatal development but, during ageing, tend to converge towards similar expression levels. Lastly, using an external single-cell gene expression dataset, we study how tissue composition and cell-autonomous changes may contribute to this divergence-convergence pattern. Overall, our results highlight the loss of tissue- and potentially, cellular identity as a common aspect of ageing.

You can join the seminar on the Zoom platform through this link.