- Professor of Genome Sciences
Gene regulation and heritable phenotypic variation in aging
The Queitsch lab focuses on two related fields: the genetic architecture of complex traits and the role of gene regulation and protein folding in generating heritable phenotypic variation – including phenotypes of aging. We advance complex trait genetics by ascertaining uncharacterized sequence variation and by resolving the relative importance of additive variation and epistasis in complex traits. From this perspective, she suggests that aging can be interpreted as a process in which susceptibility to perturbation by genetic variation or environmental perturbation increases. In one avenue of study, her lab is testing this hypothesis in A. thaliana, a genetically tractable organism in which we are developing an STR marker set to sensitively detect somatic variation using next-generation sequencing tools. A. thaliana wild-type plants can be compared to Atmsh2, polδ, and hsp90 mutants in short day conditions, which lengthens lifespan, significantly increasing cell divisions and accumulation of rare somatic events. These results can be readily applicable in any organism, including humans. In a second line of study, we are examining copy number variation in C. elegans ribosomal RNA genes as an underlying, underexplored genetic cause of heritable variation in aging.