Byrappa Venkatesh

The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, SCT, United Kingdom

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Publications (113)880.55 Total impact

  • Nature 07/2014; 511(7508):E9-10. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The predatory efficiency of squid and cuttlefish (superorder Decapodiformes) is enhanced by robust Sucker Ring Teeth (SRT) that perform grappling functions during prey capture. Here we show that SRT are composed entirely of related structural "suckerin" proteins whose modular designs enable the formation of nano-confined β-sheet-reinforced polymer networks. 37 previously undiscovered suckerins were identified from transcriptomes assembled from three distantly related decapodiform cephalopods. Similarity in modular sequence design and exon-intron architecture suggest that suckerins are encoded by a multi-gene family. Phylogenetic analysis supports this view, revealing that suckerin genes originated in a common ancestor ~350 MYa and indicating that nano-confined β-sheet reinforcement is an ancient strategy to create robust bulk biomaterials. X-ray diffraction, nanomechanical, and micro-Raman spectroscopy measurements confirm that the modular design of the suckerins facilitates the formation of β-sheets of precise nano-scale dimensions and enables their assembly into structurally robust supramolecular networks stabilized by cooperative hydrogen bonding. The suckerin gene family has likely played a key role in the evolutionary success of decapodiform cephalopods and provides a large molecular toolbox for biomimetic materials engineering.
    ACS Nano 06/2014; · 12.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Biological differences between cell types and developmental processes are characterised by differences in gene expression profiles. Gene-distal enhancers are key components of the regulatory networks that specify the tissue-specific expression patterns driving embryonic development and cell fate decisions, and variations in their sequences are a major contributor to genetic disease and disease susceptibility. Despite advances in the methods for discovery of putative cis-regulatory sequences, characterisation of their spatio-temporal enhancer activities in a mammalian model system remains a major bottle-neck. We employed a strategy that combines gnathostome sequence conservation with transgenic mouse and zebrafish reporter assays to survey the genomic locus of the developmental control gene PAX6 for the presence of novel cis-regulatory elements. Sequence comparison between human and the cartilaginous elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii) revealed several ancient gnathostome conserved non-coding elements (agCNEs) dispersed widely throughout the PAX6 locus, extending the range of the known PAX6 cis-regulatory landscape to contain the full upstream PAX6-RCN1 intergenic region. Our data indicates that ancient conserved regulatory sequences can be tested effectively in transgenic zebrafish even when not conserved in zebrafish themselves. The strategy also allows efficient dissection of compound regulatory regions previously assessed in transgenic mice. Remarkable overlap in expression patterns driven by sets of agCNEs indicates that PAX6 resides in a landscape of multiple tissue-specific regulatory archipelagos.
    Developmental Biology 01/2014; · 3.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The emergence of jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) from jawless vertebrates was accompanied by major morphological and physiological innovations, such as hinged jaws, paired fins and immunoglobulin-based adaptive immunity. Gnathostomes subsequently diverged into two groups, the cartilaginous fishes and the bony vertebrates. Here we report the whole-genome analysis of a cartilaginous fish, the elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii). We find that the C. milii genome is the slowest evolving of all known vertebrates, including the 'living fossil' coelacanth, and features extensive synteny conservation with tetrapod genomes, making it a good model for comparative analyses of gnathostome genomes. Our functional studies suggest that the lack of genes encoding secreted calcium-binding phosphoproteins in cartilaginous fishes explains the absence of bone in their endoskeleton. Furthermore, the adaptive immune system of cartilaginous fishes is unusual: it lacks the canonical CD4 co-receptor and most transcription factors, cytokines and cytokine receptors related to the CD4 lineage, despite the presence of polymorphic major histocompatibility complex class II molecules. It thus presents a new model for understanding the origin of adaptive immunity.
    Nature 01/2014; 505(7482):174-179. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The stomach, a hallmark of gnathostome evolution, represents a unique anatomical innovation characterized by the presence of acid- and pepsin-secreting glands. However, the occurrence of these glands in gnathostome species is not universal; in the nineteenth century the French zoologist Cuvier first noted that some teleosts lacked a stomach. Strikingly, Holocephali (chimaeras), dipnoids (lungfish) and monotremes (egg-laying mammals) also lack acid secretion and a gastric cellular phenotype. Here, we test the hypothesis that loss of the gastric phenotype is correlated with the loss of key gastric genes. We investigated species from all the main gnathostome lineages and show the specific contribution of gene loss to the widespread distribution of the agastric condition. We establish that the stomach loss correlates with the persistent and complete absence of the gastric function gene kit-H(+)/K(+)-ATPase (Atp4A and Atp4B) and pepsinogens (Pga, Pgc, Cym)-in the analysed species. We also find that in gastric species the pepsinogen gene complement varies significantly (e.g. two to four in teleosts and tens in some mammals) with multiple events of pseudogenization identified in various lineages. We propose that relaxation of purifying selection in pepsinogen genes and possibly proton pump genes in response to dietary changes led to the numerous independent events of stomach loss in gnathostome history. Significantly, the absence of the gastric genes predicts that reinvention of the stomach in agastric lineages would be highly improbable, in line with Dollo's principle.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 01/2014; 281(1775):20132669. · 5.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Runx family genes encode transcription factors that play key roles in hematopoiesis, skeletogenesis and neurogenesis and are often implicated in diseases. We describe here the cloning and characterization of Runx1, Runx2, Runx3 and Runxb genes in the elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii), a member of Chondrichthyes, the oldest living group of jawed vertebrates. Through the use of alternative promoters and/or alternative splicing, each of the elephant shark Runx genes expresses multiple isoforms similar to their orthologs in human and other bony vertebrates. The expression profiles of elephant shark Runx genes are similar to those of mammalian Runx genes. The syntenic blocks of genes at the elephant shark Runx gene loci are highly conserved in human, but represented by shorter conserved blocks in zebrafish indicating a higher degree of rearrangements in this teleost fish. Analysis of promoter regions revealed conservation of binding sites for transcription factors, including two tandem binding sites for Runx that are totally conserved in the distal promoter regions of elephant shark Runx1-3. Several conserved noncoding elements (CNEs), which are putative cis-regulatory elements, and miRNA binding sites were identified in the elephant shark and human Runx gene loci. Some of these CNEs and miRNA binding sites are absent in teleost fishes such as zebrafish and fugu. In summary, our analysis reveals that the genomic organization and expression profiles of Runx genes were already complex in the common ancestor of jawed vertebrates.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(4):e93816. · 3.73 Impact Factor
  • Evolution & Development 01/2014; 16(3). · 3.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cyclostomes, comprising jawless vertebrates such as lampreys and hagfishes, are the sister group of living jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) and hence an important group for understanding the origin and diversity of vertebrates. In vertebrates and other metazoans, Hox genes determine cell fate along the anteroposterior axis of embryos and are implicated in driving morphological diversity. Invertebrates contain a single Hox cluster (either intact or fragmented), whereas elephant shark, coelacanth, and tetrapods contain four Hox clusters owing to two rounds of whole-genome duplication ("1R" and "2R") during early vertebrate evolution. By contrast, most teleost fishes contain up to eight Hox clusters because of an additional "teleost-specific" genome duplication event. By sequencing bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones and the whole genome, here we provide evidence for at least six Hox clusters in the Japanese lamprey (Lethenteron japonicum). This suggests that the lamprey lineage has experienced an additional genome duplication after 1R and 2R. The relative age of lamprey and human paralogs supports this hypothesis. Compared with gnathostome Hox clusters, lamprey Hox clusters are unusually large. Several conserved noncoding elements (CNEs) were predicted in the Hox clusters of lamprey, elephant shark, and human. Transgenic zebrafish assay indicated the potential of CNEs to function as enhancers. Interestingly, CNEs in individual lamprey Hox clusters are frequently conserved in multiple Hox clusters in elephant shark and human, implying a many-to-many orthology relationship between lamprey and gnathostome Hox clusters. Such a relationship suggests that the first two rounds of genome duplication may have occurred independently in the lamprey and gnathostome lineages.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Jawed vertebrates (Gnasthostomes) are broadly separated into cartilaginous fishes (Chondricthyes) and bony vertebrates (Osteichthyes). Cartilaginous fishes are divided into chimaeras (e.g. ratfish, rabbit fish and elephant shark) and elasmobranchs (e.g. sharks, rays and skates). Both cartilaginous fish and bony vertebrates are believed to have a common armoured bony ancestor (Class Placodermi), however cartilaginous fish are believed to have lost bone. This study has identified and investigated genes involved in skeletal development in vertebrates, in the cartilaginous fish, elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii). Ctnnb1 (β-catenin), Sfrp (secreted frizzled protein) and a single Sost or Sostdc1 gene (sclerostin or sclerostin domain-containing protein 1) were identified in the elephant shark genome and found to be expressed in a number of tissues, including cartilage. β-catenin was also localized in several elephant shark tissues. The expression of these genes, which belong to the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, is required for normal bone formation in mammals. These findings in the cartilaginous skeleton of elephant shark support the hypothesis that the common ancestor of cartilaginous fishes and bony vertebrates had the potential for making bone.
    General and Comparative Endocrinology 07/2013; · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The discovery of a living coelacanth specimen in 1938 was remarkable, as this lineage of lobe-finned fish was thought to have become extinct 70 million years ago. The modern coelacanth looks remarkably similar to many of its ancient relatives, and its evolutionary proximity to our own fish ancestors provides a glimpse of the fish that first walked on land. Here we report the genome sequence of the African coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae. Through a phylogenomic analysis, we conclude that the lungfish, and not the coelacanth, is the closest living relative of tetrapods. Coelacanth protein-coding genes are significantly more slowly evolving than those of tetrapods, unlike other genomic features. Analyses of changes in genes and regulatory elements during the vertebrate adaptation to land highlight genes involved in immunity, nitrogen excretion and the development of fins, tail, ear, eye, brain and olfaction. Functional assays of enhancers involved in the fin-to-limb transition and in the emergence of extra-embryonic tissues show the importance of the coelacanth genome as a blueprint for understanding tetrapod evolution.
    Nature 04/2013; 496(7445):311-316. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The discovery of a living coelacanth specimen in 1938 was remarkable, as this lineage of lobe-finned fish was thought to have become extinct 70 million years ago. The modern coelacanth looks remarkably similar to many of its ancient relatives, and its evolutionary proximity to our own fish ancestors provides a glimpse of the fish that first walked on land. Here we report the genome sequence of the African coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae. Through a phylogenomic analysis, we conclude that the lungfish, and not the coelacanth, is the closest living relative of tetrapods. Coelacanth protein-coding genes are significantly more slowly evolving than those of tetrapods, unlike other genomic features. Analyses of changes in genes and regulatory elements during the vertebrate adaptation to land highlight genes involved in immunity, nitrogen excretion and the development of fins, tail, ear, eye, brain and olfaction. Functional assays of enhancers involved in the fin-to-limb transition and in the emergence of extra-embryonic tissues show the importance of the coelacanth genome as a blueprint for understanding tetrapod evolution.
    Nature 04/2013; 496(7445):311-316. · 38.60 Impact Factor
  • The Biology of Genomes, Suzhou, China; 01/2013
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    ABSTRACT: Pax6 is a developmental control gene essential for eye development throughout the animal kingdom. In addition, Pax6 plays key roles in other parts of the CNS, olfactory system, and pancreas. In mammals a single Pax6 gene encoding multiple isoforms delivers these pleiotropic functions. Here we provide evidence that the genomes of many other vertebrate species contain multiple Pax6 loci. We sequenced Pax6-containing BACs from the cartilaginous elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii) and found two distinct Pax6 loci. Pax6.1 is highly similar to mammalian Pax6, while Pax6.2 encodes a paired-less Pax6. Using synteny relationships, we identify homologs of this novel paired-less Pax6.2 gene in lizard and in frog, as well as in zebrafish and in other teleosts. In zebrafish two full-length Pax6 duplicates were known previously, originating from the fish-specific genome duplication (FSGD) and expressed in divergent patterns due to paralog-specific loss of cis-elements. We show that teleosts other than zebrafish also maintain duplicate full-length Pax6 loci, but differences in gene and regulatory domain structure suggest that these Pax6 paralogs originate from a more ancient duplication event and are hence renamed as Pax6.3. Sequence comparisons between mammalian and elephant shark Pax6.1 loci highlight the presence of short- and long-range conserved noncoding elements (CNEs). Functional analysis demonstrates the ancient role of long-range enhancers for Pax6 transcription. We show that the paired-less Pax6.2 ortholog in zebrafish is expressed specifically in the developing retina. Transgenic analysis of elephant shark and zebrafish Pax6.2 CNEs with homology to the mouse NRE/Pα internal promoter revealed highly specific retinal expression. Finally, morpholino depletion of zebrafish Pax6.2 resulted in a "small eye" phenotype, supporting a role in retinal development. In summary, our study reveals that the pleiotropic functions of Pax6 in vertebrates are served by a divergent family of Pax6 genes, forged by ancient duplication events and by independent, lineage-specific gene losses.
    PLoS Genetics 01/2013; 9(1):e1003177. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Genome 10K project aims to sequence the genomes of 10,000 vertebrates, representing approximately one genome for each vertebrate genus. Since fishes (cartilaginous fishes, ray-finned fishes and lobe-finned fishes) represent more than 50% of extant vertebrates, it is planned to target 4,000 fish genomes. At present, nearly 60 fish genomes are being sequenced at various public funded labs, and under a Genome 10K and BGI pilot project. An additional 100 fishes have been identified for sequencing in the next phase of Genome 10K project.
    Marine Genomics 09/2012; 7:3-6. · 1.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, Lee et al. (Lee JH, Silhavy JL, Lee JE, et al. (30 co-authors). 2012. Evolutionarily assembled cis-regulatory module at a human ciliopathy locus. Science (335:966-969.) demonstrated that mutation in either of the transmembrane protein encoding genes, TMEM138 or TMEM216, causes phenotypically indistinguishable ciliopathy. Furthermore, on the basis of the observation that their orthologs are linked in a head-to-tail configuration in other mammals and Anolis, but present on different scaffolds or chromosomes in Xenopus tropicalis and zebrafish, the authors concluded that the two genes were joined by chromosomal rearrangement at the evolutionary amphibian-to-reptile transition to form a functional module. We have sequenced these gene loci in a cartilaginous fish, the elephant shark, and found that the two genes together with a related gene (Tmem80) constitute a tandem cluster. This suggests that the two genes were already linked in the vertebrate ancestor and then rearranged independently in Xenopus and zebrafish. Analyses of the coelacanth and lamprey genomes support this hypothesis. Our study highlights the importance of basal vertebrates as critical reference genomes.
    Molecular Biology and Evolution 08/2012; · 10.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The neurohypophysial peptides of the vasopressin (VP) and oxytocin (OT) families regulate salt and water homeostasis and reproduction through distinct G protein-coupled receptors. The current thinking is that there are four neurohypophysial hormone receptors (V1aR, V1bR, V2R, and OTR) in vertebrates, and their evolutionary history is still debated. We report the identification of a fifth neurohypophysial hormone receptor (V2bR) from the holocephalan elephant fish. This receptor is similar to conventional V2R (V2aR) in sequence, but induced Ca(2+) signaling in response to vasotocin (VT), the non-mammalian VP ortholog; such signaling is typical of V1-type receptors. In addition, V1aR, V1bR and OTR were also isolated from the elephant fish. Further screening revealed that orthologous V2bRs are widely distributed throughout the jawed vertebrates, and that the V2bR family is subdivided into two subfamilies: the fish specific type-1, and a type-2 that is characteristically found in tetrapods. Analysis suggested that the mammalian V2bR may have lost its function. Based on molecular phylogenetic, synteny and functional analyses, we propose a new evolutionary history for the neurohypophysial hormone receptors in vertebrates as follows: the first duplication generated V1aR/V1bR/OTR and V2aR/V2bR lineages; after divergence from the V2bR lineage, the V2aRs evolved to use cAMP as a second messenger, while the V2bRs retained the original Ca(2+) signaling system. Future studies on the role of V2bR in the brain, heart, kidney and reproductive organs, in which it is highly expressed, will open a new research field in VP/VT physiology and evolution.
    General and Comparative Endocrinology 07/2012; 178(3):519-28. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Successful completion of the cell cycle relies on the precise activation and inactivation of cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) whose activity is mainly regulated by binding to cyclins. Recently, a new family of Cdk regulators termed Speedy/RINGO has been discovered, which can bind and activate Cdks but shares no apparent amino acid sequence homology with cyclins. All Speedy proteins share a conserved domain of approximately 140 amino acids called "Speedy Box", which is essential for Cdk binding. Speedy/RINGO proteins display an important role in oocyte maturation in Xenopus. Interestingly, a common feature of all Speedy genes is their predominant expression in testis suggesting that meiotic functions may be the most important physiological feature of Speedy genes. Speedy homologs have been reported in mammals and can be traced back to the most primitive clade of chordates (Ciona intestinalis). Here, we investigated the evolution of the Speedy genes and have identified a number of new Speedy/RINGO proteins. Through extensive analysis of numerous species, we discovered diverse evolutionary histories: the number of Speedy genes varies considerably among species, with evidence of substantial gains and losses. Despite the interspecies variation, Speedy is conserved among most species examined. Our results provide a complete picture of the Speedy gene family and its evolution.
    Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS 07/2012; 69(22):3835-50. · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Heterogametic sex chromosomes have evolved independently in various lineages of vertebrates. Such sex chromosome pairs often contain nonrecombining regions, with one of the chromosomes harboring a master sex-determining (SD) gene. It is hypothesized that these sex chromosomes evolved from a pair of autosomes that diverged after acquiring the SD gene. By linkage and association mapping of the SD locus in fugu (Takifugu rubripes), we show that a SNP (C/G) in the anti-Müllerian hormone receptor type II (Amhr2) gene is the only polymorphism associated with phenotypic sex. This SNP changes an amino acid (His/Asp384) in the kinase domain. While females are homozygous (His/His384), males are heterozygous. Sex in fugu is most likely determined by a combination of the two alleles of Amhr2. Consistent with this model, the medaka hotei mutant carrying a substitution in the kinase domain of Amhr2 causes a female phenotype. The association of the Amhr2 SNP with phenotypic sex is conserved in two other species of Takifugu but not in Tetraodon. The fugu SD locus shows no sign of recombination suppression between X and Y chromosomes. Thus, fugu sex chromosomes represent an unusual example of proto-sex chromosomes. Such undifferentiated X-Y chromosomes may be more common in vertebrates than previously thought.
    PLoS Genetics 07/2012; 8(7):e1002798. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Developmental genes are regulated by complex, distantly located cis-regulatory modules (CRMs), often forming genomic regulatory blocks (GRBs) that are conserved among vertebrates and among insects. We have investigated GRBs associated with Iroquois homeobox genes in 39 metazoans. Despite 600 million years of independent evolution, Iroquois genes are linked to ankyrin-repeat-containing Sowah genes in nearly all studied bilaterians. We show that Iroquois-specific CRMs populate the Sowah locus, suggesting that regulatory constraints underlie the maintenance of the Iroquois-Sowah syntenic block. Surprisingly, tetrapod Sowah orthologs are intronless and not associated with Iroquois; however, teleost and elephant shark data demonstrate that this is a derived feature, and that many Iroquois-CRMs were ancestrally located within Sowah introns. Retroposition, gene, and genome duplication have allowed selective elimination of Sowah exons from the Iroquois regulatory landscape while keeping associated CRMs, resulting in large associated gene deserts. These results highlight the importance of CRMs in imposing constraints to genome architecture, even across large phylogenetic distances, and of gene duplication-mediated genetic redundancy to disentangle these constraints, increasing genomic plasticity.
    Genome Research 02/2012; 22(4):642-55. · 14.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cartilaginous fishes are the most ancient group of living jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) and are, therefore, an important reference group for understanding the evolution of vertebrates. The elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii), a holocephalan cartilaginous fish, has been identified as a model cartilaginous fish genome because of its compact genome (∼910 Mb) and a genome project has been initiated to obtain its whole genome sequence. In this study, we have generated and sequenced full-length enriched cDNA libraries of the elephant shark using the 'oligo-capping' method and Sanger sequencing. A total of 6,778 full-length protein-coding cDNA and 10,701 full-length noncoding cDNA were sequenced from six tissues (gills, intestine, kidney, liver, spleen, and testis) of the elephant shark. Analysis of their polyadenylation signals showed that polyadenylation usage in elephant shark is similar to that in mammals. Furthermore, both coding and noncoding transcripts of the elephant shark use the same proportion of canonical polyadenylation sites. Besides BLASTX searches, protein-coding transcripts were annotated by Gene Ontology, InterPro domain, and KEGG pathway analyses. By comparing elephant shark genes to bony vertebrate genes, we identified several ancient genes present in elephant shark but differentially lost in tetrapods or teleosts. Only ∼6% of elephant shark noncoding cDNA showed similarity to known noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs). The rest are either highly divergent ncRNAs or novel ncRNAs. In addition to full-length transcripts, 30,375 5'-ESTs and 41,317 3'-ESTs were sequenced and annotated. The clones and transcripts generated in this study are valuable resources for annotating transcription start sites, exon-intron boundaries, and UTRs of genes in the elephant shark genome, and for the functional characterization of protein sequences. These resources will also be useful for annotating genes in other cartilaginous fishes whose genomes have been targeted for whole genome sequencing.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(10):e47174. · 3.73 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
880.55 Total Impact Points


  • 2013
    • The University of Edinburgh
      • MRC Human Genetics Unit
      Edinburgh, SCT, United Kingdom
  • 2012
    • University of California, Santa Cruz
      • Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
      Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 2011
    • The University of Tokyo
      • Faculty and Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sceince
      Tokyo, Tokyo-to, Japan
  • 2005–2011
    • Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
      • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB)
      Tumasik, Singapore
    • Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
      • Department of Pediatrics
      Cincinnati, OH, United States
  • 2010
    • University College London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2009
    • UCL Eastman Dental Institute
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1996–2009
    • Institute of Molecular Biology
      Mayence, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
  • 2007–2008
    • National Neuroscience Institute
      Tumasik, Singapore
  • 2005–2008
    • Uppsala University
      • Department of Neuroscience
      Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 1995–2006
    • National University of Singapore
      • • Department of Physiology
      • • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
      Singapore, Singapore
  • 2004
    • University of Queensland 
      • Institute for Molecular Bioscience
      Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • 1996–2004
    • University of Cambridge
      • Department of Medicine
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2002
    • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
      • Department of Medical Genetics
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 1999
    • Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
      Dresden, Saxony, Germany
  • 1998
    • University of Bristol
      • Medical School
      Bristol, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1997
    • Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom