Big Data Sheds New Light on the 'Gephyrin Gene'

Source: China Topix

Using big data analysis, a team of computer scientists stumbled upon new clues that shed light on an important protein called "gephyrin".

The gephyrin protein is a master regulator of receptors in the brain responsible for transmitting messages, according to a report. Its malfunction is attributed to neurological diseases, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy.

A team from the Washington University in St. Louis' School of Engineering & Applied Science used their own method called BlocBuster to analyze and evaluate massive datasets provided by the International HapMap Project.

With this method, they discovered the gephyrin gene on chromosome 14 broke into two opposites, called yin and yang, thousands of years ago.

"The BlocBuster approach is a paradigm shift from the conventional methods for genome-wide association studies, or popularly known as GWAS, where one or a few markers were examined at a time," said Weixiong Zhang, a professor of computer science and of genetics at the School of Medicine.

"It is truly a data mining technique for big data like those from HapMap and 1000 Genomes projects." Zhang added.

The HapMap project is a public resource of genetic data from populations worldwide. It was established to help researchers study and look for genes related to human disease.

Sherlee Climer, a computer science assistant professor at the university, explains BlocBuster's potential use for observing relationships by comparing it to social media networking.

"For example, you could build a Facebook network using all of your Facebook friends," said Sherlee Climer.

"If two of your friends are friends with each other, you would connect them in the network. If you see that a cluster of people is interconnected with each other, they probably share something in common, such as a family relationship, a school, or some type of social interaction."

The findings show people of African origin generally have more yang haplotypes, which are sequences of markers. Europeans, on the other hand, generally have more yin haplotypes, while Asians nearly possess both yin and yang.

Read more at China Topix

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