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Brendan Frey

University of Toronto,on sabbatical at Microsoft Research, Cambridge

Friday 8 May 2009


Seminar Room B10 (Basement)

Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AR


The Regulation of RNA in Brain Tissues

There are as many as 1 million RNA transcripts expressed in normal human tissues. The regulation of those transcripts by alternative splicing controls many diverse phenotypes (eg, sexual preference), but is most prevalent in central nervous system tissues (eg, controlling neural connectivity patterning and neural receptor localization). I'll describe a technique used in my group that infers a regulatory splicing code from RNA expression in diverse mouse tissues. The utility of the code is supported by experimental validation of predictions, plus feature evaluation using mutated minigene reporters in a neuronal cell line. Regulatory sequence identified by our method is located deeper into intronic sequence than previously expected and the number of regulatory features identified per regulated exon is surprisingly large. We believe that this code constitutes a first step in understanding the complexity introduced by ubiquitous alternative splicing in the mammalian brain.

The feature presentation will preceded by three shorts: 1) Finding exemplars by affinity propagation, 2) Learning to attend and 3) A nonparametric generative model for the identification of binding sites.



Brendan Frey received his PhD from the University of Toronto in 1997. From

1997 to 1999, he was a Beckman Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and in 1999 he joined the faculty in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. In 2001, Dr. Frey moved to the University of Toronto, where he is now a Professor in Engineering and Medicine. Notable contributions include his work on learning deep belief networks using the wake-sleep algorithm, factor graphs and the sum-product algorithm, the affinity propagation algorithm, 2.5D model of visual scenes, tissue-regulated alternative splicing and inference of exon and gene structure by RNA profiling. Dr. Frey is an EWR Steacie Fellow and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Information Processing and Machine Learning and in 2009 became a Fellow of the AAAS and the IEEE. Dr. Frey is currently on sabbatical in Cambridge, England.