Development of bioinformatics methods to understand regulatory processesĀ in human diseases

Associate Professor Jessica Mar's research group focuses on the development of bioinformatics methods to understand how regulatory processes go awry in human diseases. Specifically, the groups is interested in modelling how variability of gene expression contributes to regulation of the transcriptome. This interest has led us very naturally into single cell biology where there is a great need to develop accurate statistical approaches for data arising from single cell sequencing. Elucidating heterogeneity and variability in gene expression in this context in important as this may uncover new cellular subtypes or identify stochasticity in the usage of key pathway or master regulators.

The explosive availability of big data sets, coupled with the speed at which sequencing technologies have advanced have created an exciting environment for the current state of computational biology research. The Mar group looks to modern tools in statistics, such as Bayesian methodologies and machine learning algorithms, to make sense of biology from big data.

Key Publications

Ito K, Turcotte R, Cui J, Zimmerman SE, Pinho S, Mizoguchi T, Arai F, Runnels JM, Alt C, Teruya-Feldstein J, Mar JC, Singh R, Suda T, Lin CP, Frenette PS, Ito K. Self-renewal of a purified Tie2+ hematopoietic stem cell population relies on mitochondrial clearance. Science. 2016. Dec 2;354(6316):1156-1160.

Hasegawa Y, Taylor D, Ovchinnikov DA, Wolvetang, EJ, de Torrente L, Mar JC. Variability of gene expression identifies transcriptional regulators of early human embryonic development. PLoS Genetics. 2015. Aug 19;11(8):e1005428. (Corresponding Author: Mar).

Tonge PD, Corso AJ, Monetti C, Hussein SM, Puri MC, Michael IP, Li M, Lee DS, Mar JC, Cloonan N, Wood DL, Gauthier ME, Korn O, Clancy JL, Preiss T, Grimmond SM, Shin JY, Seo JS, Wells CA, Rogers IM, Nagy A. Divergent reprogramming routes lead to alternative stem-cell states. Nature. 2014. Dec 11;516(7530):192-7.

Kunisaki Y, Bruns I, Scheiermann C, Pinho S, Ahmed J, Zhang D, Mizoguchi T, Wei Q, Lucas D, Ito K, Mar JC, Bergman A, and Frenette PS. Arteriolar niches maintain haematopoietic stem cell quiescence. Nature. 2013. Oct 31;502(7473):637-43.

Mar JC, Matigian NA, Mackay-Sim A, Miotto A, Mellick G, Sue C, Silburn P, McGrath J, Quackenbush J, Wells CA. Variance of gene expression identifies altered network constraints in neurological disease. PLoS Genetics. 2011. Aug;7(8):e1002207. (Corresponding Authors: Mar, Wells, Quackenbush).