What do viruses, data sharing and lncRNAs have in common? Find out in the latest episode of “Serving of Science” as we cover the latest coming out of AGBT in beautiful Orlando, Florida.
Sean Eddy of Harvard University kicked of the session – his talk explored secondary structures in long non coding RNAs. Although RNAs do not need to have secondary structures to be functional, but if they do, it means that they may have certain functions. The data right now suggestions that there no regulatory conserved structures observed in HOTAIR, SRA or XIST, but that doesn’t mean they do not have functional properties.
Next was David Haussler of University of CA Santa Cruz who discussed the importance of sharing data. The human for genome for instance has been interpreted many different ways and is biased because it doesn’t present the global population. Research groups tend to work in silos – sharing and combining data would help us reduce the inconsistencies, population biases present in the reference genome today. Haussler pretty much stated that we needed a Rosetta stone for the human genome.
Next up was Pardis Sabeti of Harvard University who also emphasized the importance of data sharing – especially when it came to virus outbreaks like Ebola. Her idea was to leverage evolution to understand biology. We see certain human populations that have evolved mechanisms against various viruses. For example, certain populations that are plagued with Malaria have a higher incidence for sickle cell anemia – where individuals with sickle cell anemia – tend to be more resistant to malaria. Now this is exciting because we are using the knowledge of human evolution to understand the virus and its biology. The sooner we learn about the virus the more chances we have of creating effective vaccines.
Finally Matthew Sullivan of Ohio State University discussed ocean viruses. Matthew started off the presentation with a video of him traveling and the seas – and that was just amazing because it gave me a glimpse of what field work looks like. He mentioned that over 90% of viruses sequenced are new – there is nothing in the database reported yet. He also discussed how genomic data also allowed him to track the movement of the ocean viruses – apparently they ride with the currants – but the most interesting part of this was that ocean viruses adjust their abundance in response to the environment (especially temperature). Also, virus population abundance alone predicted 89% of variability in carbon flux. This is important because the ocean absorbs Carbon Dioxide, which is a green house gas, increased Carbon dioxide uptake results in acidification – which may be harming the ecosystem. Now if we can study changes in virus abundance this will allow us to hone in on hotspots in the ocean.
The main focus of this session was on data sharing and making data available whether it is decades of data or real time data. While decades of data brings about the possibility of unification to reduce current discrepancies and variations, real-time data has the ability to provide immediate information about virus outbreaks and information about the biology and transmission of the virus.
I’m super excited to be here and sharing this amazing work with you. I’m happy to answer any of your questions in the comments section below, and I’ll be back providing more updates.
*For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures