Professor Chris Ponting - Associate Faculty

Chris Ponting's group analyses next-generation sequencing data to better understand basic biological and disease processes.

Chris contributed to many landmark genome sequencing projects, but his work now focuses on disease genomics, noncoding RNA, and next-generation sequencing functional analyses.

Chris' research started with the discovery of many important protein domain families. He then provided leadership in international genome sequencing projects (including those for human and mouse) and, more recently, he forced a reconsideration of the extent and importance of transcribed noncoding DNA in the human genome. Chris is currently Deputy Director of the MRC Functional Genomics Unit.

Following his degree in physics at the University of Oxford, Chris was trained in particle physics research at the University of British Columbia. During this degree he audited a molecular biology course and he became entranced by the complexity and diversity of biological phenomena.

After a DPhil degree at the University of Oxford he developed a world-leading expertise in the identification of novel protein domains such as GAF, HAMP, HhH, PDZ, PX, SAM, SPRY, START, Tudor, and ZZ domains. In order to provide access to these domain predictions, Chris teamed up with Peer Bork to launch the SMART domain research tool, which is a mainstay of protein annotation.

In 1999, Chris became Programme Leader in the MRC Functional Genomics Unit and, within a year, had been invited to lead the Protein Analysis Section, with Alex Bateman, for the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium's Nature publication. This led to contributions from his group to genome sequencing projects for mouse, rat, chicken, dog, opossum, platypus, zebrafinch, fruit flies, Anolis lizard and orangutan.

Since then Chris' group has undertaken research on intellectual disability, predicted that over 10 per cent of the human genome is functional, demonstrated the functionality of noncoding RNA genes in mammals and fruitflies, and provided an online atlas of transcription for cortical cell layers in adult male mice.

In 2010 Chris was awarded, by MRC Strategy Board, £2.5m for a Computational Genomics Analysis and Training Strategic Programme (CGAT) whose aims are, in part, helping to fill the training gap in genomics at this critical time when so many genome-scale data sets are being generated. He also holds a five-year ERC Advanced Grant ('DARCGENs').

Selected Publications

  • A transcriptomic atlas of mouse neocortical layers.

    Belgard TG, Marques AC, Oliver PL, Abaan HO, Sirey TM, Hoerder-Suabedissen A, García-Moreno F, Molnár Z, Margulies EH and Ponting CP

    Neuron 2011;71;4;605-16

  • Massive turnover of functional sequence in human and other mammalian genomes.

    Meader S, Ponting CP and Lunter G

    Genome research 2010;20;10;1335-43

  • Accelerated evolution of the Prdm9 speciation gene across diverse metazoan taxa.

    Oliver PL, Goodstadt L, Bayes JJ, Birtle Z, Roach KC, Phadnis N, Beatson SA, Lunter G, Malik HS and Ponting CP

    PLoS genetics 2009;5;12;e1000753

  • Genomic and transcriptional co-localization of protein-coding and long non-coding RNA pairs in the developing brain.

    Ponjavic J, Oliver PL, Lunter G and Ponting CP

    PLoS genetics 2009;5;8;e1000617

  • Lineage-specific biology revealed by a finished genome assembly of the mouse.

    Church DM, Goodstadt L, Hillier LW, Zody MC, Goldstein S, She X, Bult CJ, Agarwala R, Cherry JL, DiCuccio M, Hlavina W, Kapustin Y, Meric P, Maglott D, Birtle Z, Marques AC, Graves T, Zhou S, Teague B, Potamousis K, Churas C, Place M, Herschleb J, Runnheim R, Forrest D, Amos-Landgraf J, Schwartz DC, Cheng Z, Lindblad-Toh K, Eichler EE, Ponting CP and Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium

    PLoS biology 2009;7;5;e1000112

  • The Tudor domain 'Royal Family': Tudor, plant Agenet, Chromo, PWWP and MBT domains.

    Maurer-Stroh S, Dickens NJ, Hughes-Davies L, Kouzarides T, Eisenhaber F and Ponting CP

    Trends in biochemical sciences 2003;28;2;69-74

  • Initial sequencing and comparative analysis of the mouse genome.

    Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium, Waterston RH, Lindblad-Toh K, Birney E, Rogers J, Abril JF, Agarwal P, Agarwala R, Ainscough R, Alexandersson M, An P, Antonarakis SE, Attwood J, Baertsch R, Bailey J, Barlow K, Beck S, Berry E, Birren B, Bloom T, Bork P, Botcherby M, Bray N, Brent MR, Brown DG, Brown SD, Bult C, Burton J, Butler J, Campbell RD, Carninci P, Cawley S, Chiaromonte F, Chinwalla AT, Church DM, Clamp M, Clee C, Collins FS, Cook LL, Copley RR, Coulson A, Couronne O, Cuff J, Curwen V, Cutts T, Daly M, David R, Davies J, Delehaunty KD, Deri J, Dermitzakis ET, Dewey C, Dickens NJ, Diekhans M, Dodge S, Dubchak I, Dunn DM, Eddy SR, Elnitski L, Emes RD, Eswara P, Eyras E, Felsenfeld A, Fewell GA, Flicek P, Foley K, Frankel WN, Fulton LA, Fulton RS, Furey TS, Gage D, Gibbs RA, Glusman G, Gnerre S, Goldman N, Goodstadt L, Grafham D, Graves TA, Green ED, Gregory S, Guigó R, Guyer M, Hardison RC, Haussler D, Hayashizaki Y, Hillier LW, Hinrichs A, Hlavina W, Holzer T, Hsu F, Hua A, Hubbard T, Hunt A, Jackson I, Jaffe DB, Johnson LS, Jones M, Jones TA, Joy A, Kamal M, Karlsson EK, Karolchik D, Kasprzyk A, Kawai J, Keibler E, Kells C, Kent WJ, Kirby A, Kolbe DL, Korf I, Kucherlapati RS, Kulbokas EJ, Kulp D, Landers T, Leger JP, Leonard S, Letunic I, Levine R, Li J, Li M, Lloyd C, Lucas S, Ma B, Maglott DR, Mardis ER, Matthews L, Mauceli E, Mayer JH, McCarthy M, McCombie WR, McLaren S, McLay K, McPherson JD, Meldrim J, Meredith B, Mesirov JP, Miller W, Miner TL, Mongin E, Montgomery KT, Morgan M, Mott R, Mullikin JC, Muzny DM, Nash WE, Nelson JO, Nhan MN, Nicol R, Ning Z, Nusbaum C, O'Connor MJ, Okazaki Y, Oliver K, Overton-Larty E, Pachter L, Parra G, Pepin KH, Peterson J, Pevzner P, Plumb R, Pohl CS, Poliakov A, Ponce TC, Ponting CP, Potter S, Quail M, Reymond A, Roe BA, Roskin KM, Rubin EM, Rust AG, Santos R, Sapojnikov V, Schultz B, Schultz J, Schwartz MS, Schwartz S, Scott C, Seaman S, Searle S, Sharpe T, Sheridan A, Shownkeen R, Sims S, Singer JB, Slater G, Smit A, Smith DR, Spencer B, Stabenau A, Stange-Thomann N, Sugnet C, Suyama M, Tesler G, Thompson J, Torrents D, Trevaskis E, Tromp J, Ucla C, Ureta-Vidal A, Vinson JP, Von Niederhausern AC, Wade CM, Wall M, Weber RJ, Weiss RB, Wendl MC, West AP, Wetterstrand K, Wheeler R, Whelan S, Wierzbowski J, Willey D, Williams S, Wilson RK, Winter E, Worley KC, Wyman D, Yang S, Yang SP, Zdobnov EM, Zody MC and Lander ES

    Nature 2002;420;6915;520-62

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