Exploring with Drosophila: Lessons Learned on a Journey through the Fly Genome

  • 10/24/2014 | 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Location: Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium
  • Event Type: Symposium

Exploring with Drosophila:  Lessons Learned on a Journey through the Fly Genome2014 President's Science Symposium. Key note speaker. Sarah Elgin, Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis

The years since 1953 have been an exciting time, as genetics has embraced first molecular biology and then genomics approaches. In this talk I will reflect on my own journey, and the broader lessons learned from a career studying chromatin structure and epigenetic mechanisms. During this time the puzzle posed by our very large eukaryotic genomes has been resolved by the recognition that our genomes are largely made up of transposable elements (TEs) and their remnants, bits of DNA derived from invading viruses and the like. Thus packaging up the DNA, which is done by generating a protein-DNA complex called chromatin, is necessary not only to fit all of the DNA into the nucleus, but also to maintain most of the genome in a silent state.

Our work in flies identified one of the key proteins used in silencing, Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1), which is conserved from yeast to humans. Chromatin-based regulatory mechanisms now referred to as "epigenetics" are dependent on the underlying DNA organization, including the distribution of those TEs. Our good ideas that have helped to resolve this puzzle have always come from putting together inputs from multiple sources. Good communication, both among scientists and with the larger community, is essential for our continuing efforts to understand how life works.

Kresge Audiorium 12:30 p.m. followed by Student Presentations.  The Student Summer Poster Presentations: 3:00 - 5:00 Morrell Gymnasium.

This talk will also be live streamed on Bowdoin's Live Webcasts page.