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Dave Burke

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Primary Appointment: Human Genetics Department
Primary PIBS Dept.: Human Genetics
PubMed Name: Burke DT
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  The Burke Laboratory research effort is concentrated in three main areas: (1) the analysis of the stability of gene expression during mammalian aging, (2) quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis of complex, mulitgenic traits in the laboratory mouse, and (3) the development of engineering systems for microfluidic analysis.

The first research area seeks to understand the genetic mechanisms involved in stabilizing adult gene expression in late-life. We are testing the hypothesis that aging-dependent reactivation is a general phenomenon of transcriptionally repressed genes. Two types of genes show this unusual
expression: (1) genes on the non-pseudoautosomal X chromosome in females (X inactivation), and (2) genes that are differentially expressed based on parent of origin (genomic imprinting). In both epigenetic control systems, we detect a loss of precision with increasing age. We are also measuring
the stability of the messenger RNA alternative splicing process during normal aging.

The second research area, in a collaborative effort with Dr. Richard Miller (University of Michigan, Institute of Gerontology and Department of Pathology) and other investigators at the University of Michigan, is a long-term project to identify regions of the mouse genome correlated with inter-individual variation in aging phenotypes. Several phenotypic indicators of aging are being examined in parallel, including T-cell populations, circulating hormones, bone structure, late-life hearing loss, and cancer incidence. We have identified gene locations associated with several late-life phenotypes, using a reproducible, genetically heterogeneous laboratory mouse population (UM-HET). The third project is a collaborative effort with Dr. Mark Burns (University of Michigan, Department of Chemical Engineering), and is developing a high-throughput DNA genotype analysis system that can be provided to genetics researchers at low cost. The microfluidic devices will: a) require human interaction only for initial loading of samples, b) provide consistent experimental processing and quality control, c) decrease sample processing time and human labor, d) reduce reagent costs by reducing the genotyping biochemistry to nanoliter volumes, and e) be fully controlled by integrated circuitry.