Lesheng Kong

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The zebra finch is an important model organism in several fields with unique relevance to human neuroscience. Like other songbirds, the zebra finch communicates through learned vocalizations, an ability otherwise documented only in humans and a few other animals and lacking in the chicken-the only bird with a sequenced genome until now. Here we present a(More)
We describe the genome of the western painted turtle, Chrysemys picta bellii, one of the most widespread, abundant, and well-studied turtles. We place the genome into a comparative evolutionary context, and focus on genomic features associated with tooth loss, immune function, longevity, sex differentiation and determination, and the species' physiological(More)
Sequencing of vertebrate genomes permits changes in distinct protein families, including gene gains and losses, to be ascribed to lineage-specific phenotypes. A prominent example of this is the large-scale duplication of beta-keratin genes in the ancestors of birds, which was crucial to the subsequent evolution of their beaks, claws, and feathers. Evidence(More)
The Potato type II (Pot II) family of proteinase inhibitors plays critical roles in the defense system of plants from Solanaceae family against pests. To better understand the evolution of this family, we investigated the correlation between sequence and structural repeats within this family and the evolution and molecular adaptation of Pot II genes through(More)
The simplicity of the CRISPR/Cas9 system of genome engineering has opened up the possibility of performing genome-wide targeted mutagenesis in cell lines, enabling screening for cellular phenotypes resulting from genetic aberrations. Drosophila cells have proven to be highly effective in identifying genes involved in cellular processes through similar(More)
A classical example of repeated speciation coupled with ecological diversification is the evolution of 14 closely related species of Darwin’s (Galápagos) finches (Thraupidae, Passeriformes). Their adaptive radiation in the Galápagos archipelago took place in the last 2–3 million years and some of the molecular mechanisms that led to their diversification(More)
Genes encoding protein kinases tend to evolve slowly over evolutionary time, and only rarely do they appear as recent duplications in sequenced vertebrate genomes. Consequently, it was a surprise to find two families of kinase genes that have greatly and recently expanded in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) lineage. In contrast to other amniotic(More)
Although some long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been shown to regulate gene expression in cis, it remains unclear whether lncRNAs can directly regulate transcription in trans by interacting with chromatin genome-wide independently of their sites of synthesis. Here, we describe the genomically local and more distal functions of Paupar, a(More)
Many intergenic long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) loci regulate the expression of adjacent protein coding genes. Less clear is whether intergenic lncRNAs commonly regulate transcription by modulating chromatin at genomically distant loci. Here, we report both genomically local and distal RNA-dependent roles of Dali, a conserved central nervous system expressed(More)
Recent reports have highlighted instances of mRNAs that, in addition to coding for protein, regulate the abundance of related transcripts by altering microRNA availability. These two mRNA roles - one mediated by RNA and the other by protein - are inter-dependent and hence cannot easily be separated. Whether the RNA-mediated role of transcripts is important,(More)