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Publications of the Week

Human 5′ UTR Design and Variant Effect Prediction from a Massively Parallel Translation Assay

By July 19, 2019No Comments

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This week we profile a recent publication in Nature Biotechnology from the laboratory of Dr. Georg Seelig (pictured) at UW.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

My lab has a pretty broad set of interests, but currently we are mostly focused on DNA computation (and DNA data storage) and on developing methods for genomics research.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

There are two main applications for our work. First, we can use our models to engineer novel gene regulatory elements (specifically 5’UTRs). In fact, this project got started because we were interested in seeing whether we could make 5’UTRs that would result in high protein production and might be useful for mRNA therapeutics. Second, we can use our model to predict which variants in the human genome result in changes in protein production. It’s currently impossible to characterize every variant experimentally and having a model that allows us to identify those variants that have the largest impact is extremely useful for diagnostics applications.

What are the next steps for this research?

We want to integrate our 5’UTR models with similar models for other parts of human genes (e.g. splicing models, alternative polyadenylation etc.). We want to dive deeper into tissue specific regulation.

This work was funded by:

This work was supported by Moderna Therapeutics and NIH grant R01HG009892.

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