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Structural and Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics

Houston, Texas

A BCM research lab.
Structural and Computational Biology & Molecular Biophysics
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Dan Graur, Ph.D.

Dan Graur, Ph.D.John and Rebecca Moores Professor, Biology and Biochemistry

University of Houston


B.Sc. Biology, Tel Aviv Univ., Israel (1978)
M.Sc. Zoology, Tel Aviv Univ., Israel (1980)
Ph.D., Genetics, University of Texas (1985)

Research Interests:

My research interests consist of several theoretical, statistical, and analytical topics within the broad area of molecular evolution. The following topics are currently under active investigation:

  • Reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships among and within eutherian orders. Such studies are also concerned with questions pertaining to the monophyly or paraphyly of higher taxa.
  • Assessing of the relative contributions of different molecular mechanisms in generating gaps (deletions and insertions) in DNA evolution. Such studies are useful in determining empirical gap-penalty values for usage in computer alignment algorithms.
  • Determination of the validity and applicability of the "molecular clock" concept to protein-coding genes and pseudogenes at the inter- and intraordinal levels.
  • Elucidation of the relative roles of mutation and drift versus purifying selection in determining the pattern of nucleotide substitution. A major part of this study involves the inference of selective processes in the evolution of genes through the identification of parallel and convergent amino-acid replacements.
  • Assessment of the efficiency and efficacy limits of alignment and phylogenetic reconstruction methods.
  • Physico-chemical characterization of deleterious and neutral amino-acid replacements.
  • Evolution of multiprotein-coding genes and reconstruction of the order of internal gene duplications.
  • Development of maximum-likelihood and Bayesian methodologies for the reconstruction of ancestral amino-acid sequences.
  • Development of methodologies for the identification of contact points within the three-dimensional structure of proteins by using evolutionary and phylogenetic information.
  • Identification of pseudogenes within completely sequenced genomes and determination of nonfunctionalization times.
  • Identifying the conditions for the alternative or constitutive exonization of intronic sequences.
  • Producing dynamic and static descriptions of the compositional features of genomes.

Selected Publications:

  • Ezawa K, Landan G and Graur D. Detecting negative selection on recurrent mutations using gene genealogy. BMC Genet, 14:37 (2013). PubMed
  • Graur D, Zheng Y, Price N, Azevedo RB, Zufall RA and Elhaik E. On the immortality of television sets: "function" in the human genome according to the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE. Genome Biol Evol, 5(3):578-90 (2013). PubMed
  • Sabath N, Morris JS and Graur D. Is there a twelfth protein-coding gene in the genome of influenza A? A selection-based approach to the detection of overlapping genes in closely related sequences. J Mol Evol, 73(5-6):305-15 (2011). PubMed
  • Suen G, Teiling C, Li L, Holt C, Abouheif E, Bornberg-Bauer E, Bouffard P, Caldera EJ, Cash E, Cavanaugh A, Denas O, Elhaik E, Favé MJ, Gadau J, Gibson JD, Graur D, Grubbs KJ, Hagen DE, Harkins TT, Helmkampf M, Hu H, Johnson BR, Kim J, Marsh SE, Moeller JA, Muñoz-Torres MC, Murphy MC, Naughton MC, Nigam S, Overson R, Rajakimar R, Reese JT, Scott JJ, Smith CR, Tao S, Tsutsui ND, Viljakainen L, Wissler L, Yandell MD, Zimmer F, Taylor J, Slater SC, Clifton SW, Warren WC, Elsik CG, Smith CD, Weinstock GM, Gerardo NM and Currie CR. The genome sequence of the leaf-cutter ant Atta cephalotes reveals insights into its obligate symbiotic lifestyle. PLoS Genet., 7(2):e1002007 (2011). PubMed
  • Cartwright RA and Graur D. The multiple personalities of Watson and Crick strands. Biol Direct, 6-7 (2011). PubMed
  • Price N, Cartwright RA, Sabath N, Graur D and Azevedo RB. Neutral evolution of robustness in Drosophilia microRNA precursors. Mol Biol Evol, 28(7):2115-23 (2011). PubMed
  • Sabath N and Graur D. Detection of functional overlapping genes: simulation and case studies. J Mol Evol, 71(4):308-16 (2010). PubMed
For more publications, see listing on PubMed.

Contact Information:

Address: Department Biology & Biochemistry
352 S&R Bldg II
4800 Calhoun
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-5001
Phone: 713-743-7236; (Lab) 713-743-2312
Fax: 713-743-2636
Additional Links: University of Houston

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