Anthropology and Human Genetics

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Evolution ⇔ Function

Comparative genomics at the DNA level is helpful to identify genetic elements that are conserved and hence functional. At the level of molecular phenotypes this information has not been leveraged yet for humans and their closest relatives. In order to assay molecular phenotypes in comparable cell types and differentiation stages, we develop iPS cells from primates, differentiate them and measure gene expression phenotypes using single-cell RNA-seq. This will reveal new insights how specific regulatory networks evolve in our closest relatives and is a source of information to assess functions for phenotypes.


  • iPS cell generation and differentiation
  • Bulk and single-cell RNA-seq
  • Network reconstruction across species

Relevant publications

Wunderlich, S., Kircher, M., Vieth, B., Haase, A., Merkert, S., Beier, J., Gohring, G., Glage, S., Schambach, A., Curnow, E.C., Paabo, S., Martin*, U., and Enard*, W. (2014). Primate iPS cells as tools for evolutionary analyses. Stem Cell Research 12, 622-629.

Enard, W. (2014). Comparative genomics of brain size evolution. Frontiers in human neuroscience 8, 345.

Enard, W. (2012). Functional primate genomics - leveraging the medical potential. J Mol Med (Berl) 90, 471-480,