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ANC/DTC Seminar: Richard Emes, University of Nottingham (Host: Matthias Hennig)

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Molecular Evolution of the Synapse Proteome

  • ANC/DTC Seminar
When Sep 25, 2012
from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Where IF G.03
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Sequence comparison and computational techniques to elucidate the origins and evolution of protein coding genes provides a framework for our understanding of biological systems such as cognition. Proteomic studies of the composition of mammalian neural synapses have revealed a high degree of complexity. The pre- and post-synaptic terminals are molecular systems with highly organised protein networks. Using both standard and novel approaches we identified that the major classes of synapse proteins and their respective functions in intercellular communication and adaptive responses can be detected in prokaryotes and single celled eukaryotes suggesting these functions predate the origins of neurons in metazoans. Coupled with this comparative approach, statistical approaches to determine changes in evolutionary rate of genes in a phylogeny has revealed that whilst purifying selection dominates the recent evolution of the synapse proteome, primate specific accelerated evolution has shaped a subset of the synapse proteome. These rapidly expanding and evolving gene families are of particular importance as they potentially underlie primate and human specific differences in learning and cognition.