Elde Lab

department of human genetics

UNIVERSITY

OF UTAH

people

research

publications

contact

news

pathogen-driven evolution

arms races

mimicry

experimental evolution

Host-pathogen interactions are battlefronts for influence over host functions.  From an evolutionary perspective each interaction can bear heavily on the fitness of both hosts and pathogens.  Therefore, these interactions drive some of the most rapid evolution found in nature and can provide basic insights into the evolutionary process.

 

We study the consequences of pathogen-driven evolution on cells and host immunity factors.  Protein surfaces at these interfaces often evolve in a manner resembling molecular arms races.  We are also interested in cases where pathogens use molecular mimicry to gain advantages against hosts.  In addition, we use experimental evolution to determine the evolutionary potential of viruses and understand the rules by which they adapt.

The histogram above groups genes by dN/dS,  the ratio of rates of non-synonymous (dN) and synonymous (dS) codon changes in comparisons between human, chimp, and rhesus.  Immunity genes locked in molecular arms races can evolve rapidly under extreme positive selection; dN/dS >2.

A genomic view of selection

2500

2000

1500

1000

500

 0

enriched for

immunity genes

number

of genes:

dN/dS

0.5

1.0

1.5

>2.0

positive selection

purifying selection

evolutionary genetics & cell biology