2016年2月22日，日本国立遗传研究所Saitou Naruya教授访问中心，并作题为“Characteristics of evolutionarily conserved noncoding regions in mammalian genomes”的学术报告。
A considerable region of eukaryote genomes is noncoding. Most of them are junk DNA and do not have functions. If we find evolutionary conservation, however, these conserved regions should have some function which is protected through purifying selection. From the initial stage of molecular evolutionary studies, protein noncoding regions were suspected to be involved in gene regulation. Now it is becoming clear that at least some noncoding regions play important roles in gene regulation. Therefore, conserved noncoding sequences (CNSs) are likely to be important from the functional point of view. CNS analyses have been proved to be powerful for detecting regulatory elements. We compared genome sequences of vertebrates, mammals, plants, and fungi for searching CNSs and their characteristics. One common feature emerged from analyses of these CNSs is that they are often closely located to transcription factor genes and their GC contents are different from genomic averages. We recently analyzed mammalian CNSs shared with chicken genome, and found that physical distance between one CNS and its closest protein-coding gene is highly conserved between human and mouse genomes. This and other analyses indicates importance of CNSs to gene expression control.