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Research Fellows Directory

Miguel Branco

Dr Miguel Branco

Research Fellow


Queen Mary, University of London

Research summary

Retrotransposons are portions of DNA that can copy themselves into other locations in the genome. About 40% of the human genome is made up of retrotransposons. They are generally regarded as selfish DNA elements that can cause gene mutations, and thus a number of defence mechanisms keep their expansion under control. One of these mechanisms involves the addition of particular types of so-called 'epigenetic marks' to retrotransposons that ensure that they remain 'switched off'. However, new re trotransposon insertions are not always mutagenic and can actually be beneficial. For example, different neurons in the brain contain different distributions of retrotransposons in their DNA, and it is thought that this contributes to the functional complexity of the brain. As other types of epigenetic marks can activate retrotransposons, I plan to investigate how different epigenetic marks switch retrotransposons 'on' or 'off' in different cell types, including neurons. I will then try to asses s how epigenetic marking

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Epigenetic control of retrotransposable elements.

Scheme: Sir Henry Dale Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2013 - Oct 2018

Value: £978,166

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