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The 3rd Genomics Frontiers Symposium held in Beijing, 2015
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The 3rd Genomics Frontiers Symposium with three major themes on “RNA modifications, Single cell omics, and High-dimensional structure of genome” was held July 16–19, 2015 in Beijing Best Western OL Stadium Hotel, which is next to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Olympic Village Science Park.


The symposium was hosted by Beijing Institute of Genomics (BIG), CAS, and organized by the journal Genomics, Proteomics & Bioinformatics (GPB) and Lucidusbio Co. The symposium series was first launched in 2012 aiming to host in-depth discussions from outstanding scholars in the frontier of genomics and bioinformatics and to foster future collaborations among all attendees. Twenty-eight invited speakers presented their new findings and perspectives in this symposium and attracted more than 100 registered audiences. Four best posters were awarded during the symposium to encourage active involvement of students and junior scientists.


Dr. YU Jun, professor of BIG, CAS and the Editor-in-Chief of GPB, started the symposium by delivering the opening remarks on July 16th. In the following high-dimensional structure of genome section, keynote speaker Dr. Giacomo Cavalli from CNRS, France presented his work in the regulatory function of polycomb proteins at the whole chromatin level by Hi-C technology. Keynote speaker Dr. RUAN Yijun reviewed the recent development on the studies of the genome 3D organization and transcription regulation in human cells. Based on the current 3C-based technologies, keynote speaker Dr. DUAN Zhijun developed the targeted DNase Hi-C technology to map the fine chromatin architecture of genomic loci with high resolution and low bias. In addition, the newly-developed in situ DNase Hi-C technology further enabled the mapping allele-specific genome 3D architecture. Also from the 3D genome perspective, Dr. HOU Chunhui focused on the transacting factor’s functions under stress condition such as heat shock, while Dr. WU Qiang took steps further to use CRISPR-CAS9 system and validated the mechanism of CTCF/cohesion-determined looping directions. Dr. LI Guohong worked on the structural unit “tetranucleosome” of chromatin fiber and its implications in dynamics of higher-order chromatin structures and epigenetic regulation. From the point view of bioinformatics, Dr. TIAN Weidong’s study combined Hi-C data and phylogenetic correlation to predict the target genes of distal regulatory elements (DREs), which help to understand the function of DREs and the causal roles of disease-associated noncoding SNPs. And Dr. WANG Xiaowo’s group focused on ChIA-PET data analysis and validated the hypothesis of robust long-range DNA loops exist on chromosome for chromatin interactions. On the other hand, keynote speaker Dr. Jun Yu discussed how the genomes of higher plants and animals organized differently from the point view of genome structure, adding a new angle to this exciting section.


During the single cell omics section in the following days, Dr. Xiaoliang Suney Xie, the member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, captivated the audience with his talk entitled “Life at the single molecule level” and shared his current work on the biology of meiosis and cancer in single cell omics to avoid miscarriage and genetic diseases, as well as the potential applications in personalized therapy of cancer. Very different from Dr. ZHANG Qiwei’s previous work on computational genomics, the new findings in his lab include the descriptions of the pathogenic bacteria Enterococcus faecalis methylome by SMRT and bisulfite sequencing. Dr. TANG Fuchou’s group also works on methylome, but focused on the human pre-implantation embryos, primordial germ cells, and human embryonic stem cells. Dr. NING Kang introduced his recent work on single-cell SNP analyses and aimed at developing early diagnosis and precise medical treatment of colon cancer. Dr. HE Jiankui integrated the DNA and RNA sequencing data to connect genotype and phenotype of single cell.


Several speakers also presented their work more focused on methodology. Dr. Chaoyong James Yang developed the droplet microfluidic technology for high-throughput single cell isolation, while Dr. WANG Deqiang gave a talk on the solid-state nanopore sequencing technology. In addition, Dr. WEI Lin developed analysis method to deal with single-cell RNA-seq data with large noises. In the end, LI Xiang, who represents Dr. YAN Jianbing’s lab in Huazhong Agricultural University, introduced their study of whole genome sequencing on the isolated microspores from a single tetrad of maize.


The Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dr. CHEN Runsheng opened RNA modification, the third section of this symposium, to a packed auditorium with an overview of the non-coding RNA studies in current biology. Following his foresight speech, several studies on non-coding RNA and epigenetics were very interesting: Dr. SONG Xu found a novel mechanism of epigenetic repression of lncRNA, which regulates the carcinogenesis and therapeutic resistance related genes correlated with breast cancer. This study enlarged our current knowledge of the styles that lncRNA adopted to regulate gene expression. Dr. CHEN Yueqin’s lab focuses on the ncRNA’s functions in plant sexual reproduction; and Dr. QI Yijun discussed a new way for siRNA biogenesis and its role in initiating RNA-directed DNA methylation in Arabidopsis. Keynote speaker Dr. Jacab Hanna introduced their findings in RNA regulation and epigenetic character of the pluripotent cell.


Moreover in terms of methylation, Dr. YANG Yungui focused on the significance of RNA m6A in RNA processing. In addition of the discovery of FTO as m6A demethylase, Dr. JIA Guifang discussed the pathogenic mechanism of FTO in cancer. Dr. LIU Mofang screened the human Piwi in azoospermia patients and found multiple germline mutations. Her study revealed new mechanism for spermiogenesis. From the new technology aspect, the keynote speaker Dr. Akimitsu Okamoto from University of Tokyo introduced chemical approaches to detect DNA modification and mRNA expression. And Dr. YI Chengqi used CeU-Seq technology, a selective chemical labeling and pull-down method to identify the psudouridine sites in human transcripts.


Other than the invited talks, four best posters were selected by the poster review panel comprising of invited speakers and organizing committee members of the symposium through open review. During the poster section, presenters introduced their work to the review panel and interested symposium attendees, and gained comments and feedbacks instantly to improve their future work.


This symposium attracted audiences from different universities, including Tsinghua and Peking University, and multiple CAS institutes in Beijing and other cities across the mainland China. The successful symposium got covered by online and SMS media, including the  and “Knowgene” on WeChat. Thanks to the fast development in genomics technologies, the new research areas emerged and became trending topics rapidly. The 3rd Genomics Frontiers Symposium seized the opportunity to invite leading scientists globally to focus on the hottest topics in biology: RNA modifications, Single cell omics, and High-dimensional structure of genome. The communication platform established may promote the scientific exchange cross-regionally and generationally. More trending topics will be covered in future events for the sophisticated Genomics Frontiers Symposium series.