Research Fellows Directory
Dr Boris Adryan
University of Cambridge
The DNA of all cells of an organism is the same. What makes the difference between these cells is the activity state of the genes. Transcription factors are proteins that bind to the DNA in order to modulate this activity state. In our research, we are trying to understand the role of transcription factors in the formation of the Drosophila tracheal system, the flies' airways. Not only will we be able to understand the basic mechanisms of transcriptional regulation, but the trachea are also a beautiful model system for the development of the human lung, vasculature and kidney. Thus, any insights gained may have biomedical relevance.
Our current key problem is that the tiny tracheal cells cannot easily be retrieved from the fly embryo for biochemical analysis. However, advanced genetic technology allows to fluorescently label these cells by the expression of a so- called reporter protein in exactly these cells. Using a specialised sorting apparatus, we can then sort out only these fluorescently labelled cells, or their nuclei that contain the genetic material. This is a method we have recently established and we are now looking forward to apply it to the exciting problem of transcriptional regulation.
A challenge in our analysis is the inference of a regulatory logic. That is, which signals in the genome are causative, and which ones are mere consequences of these other signals? We are using machine learning approaches and computational reasoning to support these studies. We furthermore use computer simulations to understand how the transcription factor molecules find their way to the target sites within the three-dimensional genome.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)