Mehmet Somel


Research Overview

I have two main areas of interest, human evolution, and ageing. On human evolution, I have been studying how gene expression differences might be shaping functional differences between humans and chimpanzees. We have specifically investigated regulatory differences between species that affect the timing of transcription during brain development, which lead to a dramatically extended period of neural development in human infants. I have also worked on how, and why, gene expression levels change during ageing. My current work is focused on signatures of genetic drift in the human genome, deleterious variation that influence gene expression, and the role of drift in shaping ageing patterns.

Selected Publications

A scan for human−specific relaxation of negative selection reveals unexpected polymorphism in proteasome genes.
Somel M, Wilson Sayres M, Jordan G, Huerta-Sanchez E, Fumagalli M, Ferrer-Admetlla A, Nielsen R. (2013) Molecular Biology & Evolution. DOI

Human brain evolution: transcripts, metabolites and their regulators.
Somel M, Liu X, Khaitovich P. (2013) Nature Reviews Neuroscience 14(2):112-27. DOI

Mechanisms of dietary response in mice and primates: a role for EGR1 in regulating the reaction to human-specific nutritional content.
Weng K, Hu H, Xu AG, Khaitovich P, Somel M. (2012) PLoS One 7(8):e43915. DOI

Accelerated aging-related transcriptome changes in the female prefrontal cortex.
Yuan Y, Chen YP, Boyd-Kirkup J, Khaitovich P, Somel M. (2012) Aging Cell 11(5):894-901. DOI

Extension of cortical synaptic development distinguishes humans from chimpanzees and macaques.
Liu X*, Somel M*, Tang L*, Yan Z, Jiang X, Guo S, Yuan Y, He L, Oleksiak A, Zhang Y, Li N, Hu Y, Chen W, Qiu Z, Pääbo S, Khaitovich P. (2012) Genome Research 22(4):611-22. DOI

MicroRNA-driven developmental remodeling in the brain distinguishes humans from other primates.
Somel M*, Liu X*, Tang L, Yan Z, Hu H, Guo S, Jiang X, Zhang X, Xu G, Xie G, Li N, Hu Y, Chen W, Pääbo S, Khaitovich P. (2012) PLoS Biology 9(12):e1001214. DOI

MicroRNA, mRNA, and protein expression link development and aging in human and macaque brain.
Somel M*, Guo S*, Fu N*, Yan Z, Hu HY, Fu X, Yuan Y, Ning Z, Hu Y, Menzel C, Hu H, Lachmann M, Zeng R, Chen W, Khaitovich P (2010) Genome Research 20: 1207-1218 DOI

Transcriptional Neoteny in the Human Brain.
Somel M, Franz H, Yan Z, Lorenc A, Guo S, Giger T, Kelso J, Nickel B, Dannemann M, Bahn S, Webster MJ, Weickert CS, Lachmann M, Pääbo S, Khaitovich P (2009) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106(14):5743-8. DOI