The topic mostly concerns mobile elements (transposons). Mobile elements (MEs) build 30-90% of genomes of higher eukaryotes (plants and animals) and they provide the genomes with increased "evolvability" – the organisms are able to change faster when it is needed (in times of environmental stress etc). The group study also microRNAs (miRNAs) - small RNA molecules that find certain messenger RNAs (mRNAs), bind to them and change the fate of the regulated gene. In most cases, the protein production of the miRNA-regulated gene is stopped.
There three main area of study:Searching for specific positions in certain genes that miRNAs can recognize. Some transposons (so called Alu elements) carry such sites that miRNAs can bind to. The mobile elements multiply and propagate miRNA binding motifs and deliver them to certain genes. This might be a way to acceleration and establishment of miRNA regulatory networks in evolution.Bioinformatics-based search of miRNA binding sites localized in sequences of mobile elements that have inserted themselves in genes-members of certain signaling pathways (signal transduction pathways). It was found that transposons could contribute to the miRNA-based regulation of the signaling pathways.
Comparative genomics of human and chimpanzee is studied. Unexpectedly, the human and chimpanzee genes, which proteins are 98-100% identical, sometimes have striking differences in the mobile elements content. So it is very probable that the difference in the activity of the brain genes is due to the differences of mobile elements. This could be a part of the still unknown processes that made us humans.
- Mobile elements and the establishment of the microRNA regulation - NSF - Bulgaria
- Mobile elements - divergence between human and chimpanzee – Research Fund UoP
- Mobile elements in the establishment of the signaling pathways - NSF - Bulgaria
E. Daskalova 2002. Man – a new evolutionary force, Ist international conference "GMO – problems and perspectives", House of scientists in Bulgaria, Plovdiv
E. Daskalova, V Baev, V Rusinov, and I Minkov, 2006. 3'UTR-located ALU Elements: Donors of Potetial miRNA Target Sites and Mediators of Network miRNA-based Regulatory Interactions, Evolutionary bioinformatics online, vol. 2