Tanja Kunej, Ph.D.

Associate Professor in Genetics

Chair of Genetics, Animal Biotechnology and Immunology

Department of Animal Science

Biotechnical Faculty

University of Ljubljana

Domzale, Slovenia




2004-2006: Visiting scholar/teaching assistant, Department of Animal Sciences, Washington State University, WA, USA

2003-2005: Postdoc, Department of Animal Science, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

2002: Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana

2000: M.Sc., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana

1995: B.Sc., Biology; program: molecular biology, University of Ljubljana


Professional Experience

-Current position: Associate Professor, Department of Animal Science, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

-1996–2002: Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UKC, Ljubljana, Slovenia

-1996: Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical Faculty, UL



Genetic Society of Slovenia, Biochemical Society of Slovenia

Slovene Medical Association; Slovenian Association of Human Genetics


Research Interest

Molecular genetics, comparative genomics, epigenetics, microRNAs, biology of the mammary gland, fat deposition, cancer genetics, reproduction, bioinformatics, data integration, molecular networks, systems biology



-current:  3 MSc, 6 BSc

-past:       4 PhD, 4 MSc, >50 BSc


Awards as a supervisor

Preseren award of University of Ljubljana (UL) for best student diploma B.Sc., thesis or research project of the year:

-2016: supervisor - research work awarded at the Biotechnical Faculty, UL (Veronika PIpan)

-2014: supervisor - research work awarded at the Biotechnical Faculty, UL (Jana Obsteter)

-2013: supervisor - research work awarded at the Biotechnical Faculty, UL (Sabina Ott)

-2011: supervisor - research work awarded at the University of Ljubljana (Dasa Jevsinek Skok)

-2009: supervisor - diploma work awarded at the University of Ljubljana (Eva Ceh)

-2008: co-supervisor - research work awarded at the Veterinary Faculty, UL


 Complete list of publications


Main publications

Strmsek Z, Kunej T. MicroRNA Silencing by DNA Methylation in Human Cancer: a Literature Analysis. Non-Coding RNA 2015, 1(1), 44-52; doi:10.3390/ncrna1010044

Kunej T, Jevsinek Skok D, Zorc M, Ogrinc A, Michal JJ, Kovac M, Jiang Z. Obesity Gene Atlas in Mammals. J Genomics 2012; 1:45-55.


Zorc M, Jevsinek Skok D, Godnic I, Calin GA, Horvat S, Jiang Z, Dovc P, Kunej T. Catalog of microRNA seed polymorphisms in vertebrates. PLoS ONE.


Kunej T., Godnic I, Ferdin J, Horvat S, Dovc P, Calin GA. Epigenetic regulation of microRNAs in cancer: an integrated review of literature. Mutation Research, 2011;717:77-84.


Ogorevc J, Dovc P, Kunej T. Polymorphisms in microRNA targets - a source of new molecular markers for male reproduction. Asian J Androl, 2011;13(3):505-8.


Ogorevc J, Dovc P, Kunej T. Comparative genomics approach to identify candidate genetic loci for male fertility. Reprod Dom Anim. 2011; 46:229-239.


Ferdin J, Kunej T, Calin GA. MicroRNA: genomic association with cancer predisposition. J Assoc Genet Technol, 2011; 37(1):11-19.

Kunej T, Jevsinek Skok D, Horvat S, Dovc P, Jiang Z. The glypican 3-hosted murine Mir717 gene: sequence conservation, seed region polymorphisms and putative targets. International Journal of Biological Sciences 2010; 6(7):769-772.


Ferdin J, Kunej T, Calin GA. Identification of Cancer-Associated miRNAs by Gene Profiling. Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2010; 9(2):123-138.


Nicoloso MS, Sun H, Spizzo R, Kim H, Wickramasinghe P, Shimizu M, Wojcik SE, Ferdin J, Kunej T, Xiao L, Manoukian S, Secreto G, Ravagnani F, Wang X, Radice P, Croce CM, Davuluri RV, Calin GA. Single nucleotide polymorphisms inside microRNA target sites influence tumor susceptibility. Cancer Res, 2010; 70(7):2789-2798.


Jiang Z, Michal JJ, Chen J, Daniels TF, Kunej T, Garcia MD, Gaskins CT, Busboom JR, Alexander LJ, Wright Jr. RW, MacNeil MD. Discovery of novel genetic networks associated with 19 economically important traits in beef cattle. Int J Biol Sci. 2009; 5:528-542.


Ogorevc J, Kunej T, Razpet A, Dovc P. Database of cattle candidate genes and genetic markers for milk production and mastitis. Anim. Genet. 2009; 40: 832-851.


Kunej T, Wu XL, Michal JJ, Milosevic Berlic T, Jiang Z, Dovc P. The porcine mitochondrial transcription factor A gene: molecular characterization, radiation hybrid mapping and genetic diversity among 12 pig breeds. Am J Anim Vet Sci 2009; 4(4):129-135.


Hobor S, Kunej T, Dovc P. Polymorphisms in the kappa casein (CSN3) gene in horse and comparative analysis of its promoter and coding region. Anim Genet. 2008; 39:520-530.


Kunej T, Wang Z, Michal JJ, Daniels TF, Magnuson NS, Jiang Z. 2007. Functional SNPs in the UQCRC1 promoter are associated with increased subcutaneous and muscle lipid accumulation. Obesity 2007; 15:2896-901.


Jiang Z, Wang ZP, Kunej T, Williams GA, Michal JJ, Wu X-L, Magnuson NS. A novel type of sequence variation - multiple nucleotide length polymorphisms discovered in the bovine genome. Genetics 2007; 76:403-407.


Peterlin B, Zorn B, Teran N, Kunej T. Analysis of the CAG repeat number in exon 1 of the androgen receptor gene in Slovene men with idiopathic azoospermia and oligoasthenoteratozoospermia. Asian J Androl. 2007; 9:280-2.


Jiang Z, Michal JJ, Williams GA, Daniels TF, Kunej T. Cross species association examination of UCN3 and CRHR2 as potential pharmacological targets for antiobesity drugs. PloS ONE 2006; 1(1):e80.


Peterlin B, Zorn B, Volk M, Kunej T. Association between the apolipoprotein B signal peptide gene insertion/deletion polymorphism and male infertility. Mol Hum Reprod. 2006; 12:777-779.


Peterlin B, Kunej T, Hruscovicova H, Ferk P, Gersak K, Zorn B. Analysis of the hemacromatosis mutations C282Y and H63D in infertile men. Fertil Steril. 2006; 86:1796-1798.


Kunej T, Wu X-L, Milosevic Berlic T, Michal JJ, Jiang Z, Dovc P. Frequency distribution of a Cys430Ser polymorphism in peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1 (PPARGC1) gene sequence in Chinese and Western pig breeds. J Anim Breed Genet. 2005; 122: 7–11.


Jiang Z, Kunej T, Michal JJ, Gaskins CT, Reeves JJ, Busboom JR, Dovc P, Wright Jr. RW. Significant associations of the mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) promoter polymorphisms with marbling and subcutaneous fat depth in Wagyu x Limousin F2 crosses. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005; 334:516-523.


Petrovic MG, Kunej T, Peterlin B, Dovc P, Petrovic D. Gly482Ser polymorphism of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1 gene might be a risk factor for diabetic retinopathy in Slovene population (Caucasians) with type 2 diabetes and the Pro12Ala polymorphism of the PPARgamma gene is not. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2005; 21(5):470-4.


Kunej T, Globocnik Petrovic M, Dovc P, Peterlin B, Petrovic D. A Gly482Ser polymorphism of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1 (PGC-1) gene is associated with type 2 diabetes in Caucasians. Folia Biol. 2004; 50(5):157-8.


Kunej T, Teran N, Zorn B, Peterlin B. CTG amplification in the DM1PK gene is not associated with idiopathic male subfertility. Hum Reprod. 2004; 19(9):2084-7.


Peterlin B, Kunej T, Hristovski D. Diagnostic test for Y chromosome microdeletion screening in male infertility. Genet Test. 2004; 8(1):45-9.


Kunej T, Zorn B, Peterlin B. Y chromosome microdeletions in infertile men with cryptorchidism. Fertil Steril. 2003; 79:1559-65.


Peterlin B, Kunej T, Sinkovec J, Gligorievska N Zorn B. 2002. Screening for Y chromosome microdeletions in 226 Slovenian subfertile men. Hum. Reprod. 2002; 17:17-24.


Dzeroski S, Hristovski D, Kunej T, Peterlin B. A data mining approach to the development of a diagnostic test for male infertility. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2000; 77:779-83.


Book chapters

Kunej T, Godnic I, Zorc M, Horvat S, Calin GA. The microRNA decalog of cancer involvement. In: MicroRNAs in Medicine. Lawrie, C.H. (2012) (Ed.). Wiley & Sons, New York. 2013


Dovc P, Kunej T, Williams GA. Genetics and Genomics of Reproductive Disorders. In: Reproductive Genomics of Domestic Animals. Jiang Z, Ott TL (eds.). Blackwell Publishing, 2010.



Jiang Z, Kunej T. Polymorphisms in mitochondrial transcription factor A ("TFAM") gene and their associations with measures of marbling and subcutaneous fat depth in beef cattle. US 7,662,564 B2, US Application Serial No. 11/441,928. WSU, 2010.


Jiang Z, Kunej T, Michal J. Association of UQCRC1 SNPS with fat deposition and fatty acid composition. US 7,879,552 B2, WSU, 2011.