Quantitative methods in gene regulation
21 January 2016
Department of physics, University of Turin
Understanding gene regulation is a central issue of modern molecular biology. As for many other complex biological problems it can only be addressed by combining experimental studies and a variety of theoretical tools, ranging from network theory to stochastic analysis, to information theory.
In this talk I will discuss, as an example of this interdisciplinary strategy, the role, within the regulatory network, of a class of genes known as microRNAs. These genes are involved in a set regulatory circuits (usually called "regulatory motifs") which play important functional roles in the cell and are thus under strong positive selection in the human regulatory network.
In this talk I will address this issue in three steps. First I will start with a short pedagogical introduction to the organization of Eukaryotic genomes and to the mechanisms of gene regulation. Then in the second part I will discuss, using both stochastic equations and bioinformatic tools, the role played by microRNAs in the regulatory network and finally in the third part I will show how, using a combination of multiplex analysis and information theory, one can extract from the regulatory network a set of candidate "cancer driver genes" i.e. genes related to cancer insurgence and progression.