Education: 2008 - Ph.D. in Biology, University of Leipzig
2003 - M.Sc. in Biotechnology, METU
2001 - B.S. in Biology, METU
Research Interest: - Comparative human evolution; transcriptome evolution.
- Human population genetics; ancient DNA.
- Genetic and physiological mechanisms of aging; brain aging; evolution of aging.
Description of research activities: The Comparative & Evolutionary Biology team (CompEvo) studies human evolution at the transcriptome and genomic levels. Our previous work focused on differences in gene expression timing in brain development between humans and chimpanzees that may underlie cognitive differences between these species. Our group continues working on genomic and transcriptomic variation in modern-day and ancient humans, and other primates. A current focus is mechanisms of *testis transcriptome divergence* among primate species.
We are also interested in brain aging. Specifically, we aim to understand the causes and regulation of molecular changes that occur during brain aging, some of which may be driving age-related cognitive decline. Our current work focuses on the roles of deleterious genetic load, diet and caloric restriction, and chronic stress as factors in brain aging. A main question we are pursuing is whether chronic stress exposure in adults may accelerate brain aging.
We use rodent and primate models, transcriptomics and meta-analysis of published data to investigate these questions.
Link to full list
Heterochrony explains convergent testis evolution in primates
E Saglican, E Ozkurt, H Hu, B Erdem, P Khaitovich, M Somel (2014) bioRxiv [link]
Shared signatures of social stress and aging in peripheral blood mononuclear cell gene expression profiles
N Snyder‐Mackler, M Somel, J Tung (2014) Aging Cell [link]
Evolution of Human Longevity Uncoupled from Caloric Restriction Mechanisms
G Zhao, S Guo, M Somel* and P Khaitovich* (2014) PLoS ONE [link]
Transcriptomic insights into human brain evolution: acceleration, neutrality, heterochrony
M Somel, R Rohlfs, X Liu (2014) Current Opinion in Genetics & Development [review] [pdf]
Human brain evolution: transcripts, metabolites and their regulators
M Somel, X Liu, P Khaitovich (2013) Nat Rev Neuro [review] [pdf]
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) Mol Biol Evol [link]
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 [link]
Accelerated aging-related transcriptome changes in the female prefrontal cortex.
Yuan Y, Chen YP, Boyd-Kirkup J, Khaitovich P, Somel M. (2012) Aging Cell [link]
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 Res [link]
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. (2011) PLoS Biol [link]
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 Res [link]
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) PNAS [link]
Human and chimpanzee gene expression differences replicated in mice fed different diets.
Somel M*, Creely H*, Franz H, Mueller U, Lachmann M, Khaitovich P, Pääbo S. (2008) PLoS ONE 30;3(1):e1504 [link]
Gene expression becomes heterogeneous with age.
Somel M, Khaitovich P, Bahn S, Pääbo S, Lachmann M. (2006) Current Biology 16(10):R359-60 [pdf]
*: contributed equally
Graduate program affiliation: Biology, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Archaeometry