Ben Lehner: Why would a mutation kill me, but not you?”

This is the big question that drives all the research in the laboratory of Genetic Systems directed by the ICREA researcher Ben Lehner at the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona. Lehner explained their latest findings on an IDIBELL seminar on November 4th.

Lehner’s group seeks to understand why two genetically identical individuals, which have the same mutation, do not always have the same phenotype. “In humans, this is usually explained by the environment. That is why we study simplest organisms in the laboratory where they can control the environmental factors and where experiments can be repeated many times. And we have seen that there must be some other mechanism to explain why the same individuals under controlled environmental conditions do not exhibit the same phenotype.

Lehner works with yeast and C.elegans and what he has seen is that “gene expression depends not only on the genes and the environment but also involves a random variation. There is not a simple switch with two positions on / off and go. There is something else. ”

Ben Lehner uses experiments and computational analysis to understand the principles and evolution of genetic systems. His recent work has focussed on understanding and globally predicting how mutations map to phenotypic changes, how mutations combine to cause disease, the evolution and importance of genetic redundancy, the evolution of regulatory networks and tissue-specific biology, and the interplay between noise, plasticity and evolutionary potential.

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