The Third Symposium on the Nature of Science

Gene Sequences and Gene Function; Gene Expression and Aging; or the Value of Looking the Other Way
Marcos Antezana

Watch the talk (running time 1:05)
First I will present some observations and experiments about non-standard features of gene structure and function, and relate them to some startling genome-wide sequence-statistical patterns. Then I will present my novel hypothesis that transcription-associated mutation is the fundamental cause of cellular aging and sets ultimate limits to cellular and organismic individuality. These results stress the value of looking at biological problems from the perspectives of multiple disciplines including those arising from their often unconscious ontologies, heuristics, and epistemologies.
Marcos A. Antezana
Department of Human Genetics
The University of Chicago
Dr. Antezana is a computational biologist who has made breakthrough contributions to biology and biostatistics. He has always been attracted to problems in biology that are considered intractable. Over the years, this has led him to rely heavily on computer techniques and to adopt a genomics perspective in postulating and testing hypotheses. He used simulations to study the origin of sexual reproduction and a new, more powerful analytical test for phylogenies with Richard Hudson at UC Irvine. This test launched his ongoing work in phylogenetic statistics and is at the basis of the rationale for his project with Nancy Cox of the University of Chicago aiming at improving the power of gene-mapping methods by taking advantage of a full population-genetic characterization of the signal these methods react to. After leaving Irvine, he started studying the forces structuring synonymous codon (SC) usage with Martin Kreitman at the University of Chicago, an effort that led to his collaboration with a molecular laboratory at Chicago to characterize the function of the mRNA produced by synthetic genes with modified SCs, to his project to quantify how nucleic-acid and amino-acid forces constrain the optimization of protein function, and to his project to document the consequences of transcription-associated mutation for highly expressed gene functions, consequences he is about to start measuring together with American and British collaborators.

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