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Cemalettin Bekpen

Professor
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Boğaziçi University
Turkey

Biography

Completing my Ph.D. degree under the direction of Prof. Dr. Jonathan C. Howard, one of the pioneers in immunogenetics, has given me a great perspective about cell genetics and innate immunity. I worked on the comparative genomics and function of the IRG gene family which is involved in cell-autonomous immunity in mice. To do my post-doctoral studies, I moved to Prof. Evan Eichler’s Lab., at the Genome Sciences in University of Washington, Seattle, USA in the beginning of September 2006. During my post doctoral studies, I have studied the functional characterizations of the genes embedded within human core segmental duplication regions. Currently. I am working in Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF) as research associate to study whether any of the human specific gene families involve in immune response in human. In the mean time, I am establishing my research group in the  Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Bogazici university, Istanbul Turkey.

Research Interest

Most genes in the human genome are found within the orthologous genomic segments. However, small subsets of gene families (n=9) such as morpheus, and LRRc37, which have been subjected to a burst of segmental duplications, are found within the paralogous genomic regions. These gene families are frequently organized around “core” duplicons that has enriched gene expression in human, some of which are evolving under positive selection. These genes are different from classical gene families and share some common characteristics. They are embedded within the core duplicons, and have not been properly studied or annotated because orthologs do not exist in out-group species, and are embedded in complex regions where 1:1 sequence alignments have been problematic. Most of these gene families show different expression pattern when compared to ancestral gene locus. Recent studies indicate that these genes are one of the major contributors to genetic variations between human individuals. Therefore, we propose that these genes represent novel gene families that confer selective advantage in human evolution and are important for human specific diseases. We aim to identify and functionally characterize newly evolved genes that are embedded within human core duplicons. Specifically, we are searching whether any of these human specific gene families involve in immune response in human.

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