Comparative genomics and genomic biodiversity
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Genomic revolution characterized significantly development of basic and applied biological sciences during the last decade. Application of modern methods in genetics, molecular and cell biology and immunology combined with high throughput genomic techniques opened a new horizon for acquisition of knowledge about structure and function of complex genomes. The programme is modular with an accent on the study of natural and breeding populations and comparative approach for study of genetic determination of traits related to health and production traits. The module dealing with the biology of lactation is focused on the regulation of lactoprotein expression in the mammary gland of different species in different physiological conditions. In addition to genes which play an important role in the regulation of milk composition and technological properties of milk is module focused on genes regulating development of the mammary gland and immune response during infections. Due to its cyclic character is mammary gland an ideal model for developmental studies including mammary gland involution. For the study of gene function we apply in vitro systems which enable analysis of gene function under controlled conditions and a wide range of experimental approaches. An important aspect of the module is study of post transcriptional processing of mRNA and modulation of gene expression by RNA interference. The cyclic development of the mammary gland enables study of the role of stem cells in mammary gland development and tumourigenesis. Detection of candidate genes and development of animal models is the focus of the module dealing with QTL mapping for traits related with energy metabolism and fat deposition. Identification of candidate loci is performed in different steps including QTL mapping, development of informative markers and selection of candidate genes according to their physiological role and genetic variation in the population. The effect of genetic variants of selected candidate genes is verified by association studies in selected populations, however, we are also developing transgenic mouse model for in vivo study of target genomic regions. In addition to factors affecting energy metabolism, the special focus of the programme is on biogenesis of mitochondria and interactions between nuclear and mitochondrial genome. The study of molecular basis of antigenic variation in avian mycoplasmas reveals molecular mechanisms which allow successful escape of the host immune system and survival of avian mycoplasmas in immunocompetent host. Study of immune response is an overriding topic of the programme connecting different modules of the programme in the search for novel solutions in the fight against infections. The module focused on population aspect of free living and bred populations enables survey of populations, establishment of relationships between populations and their history. In addition, the module elucidates the taxonomic position of rare and endangered species and contributes to appropriate management of those populations. Development of cytogenetic methods for diagnostic purposes in human medicine is methodologically connected with other modules and opens a comparative aspect into the medical research.
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