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Drosophila Telomere Heterochromatin: Gene silencing and Telomere targeting


Eukaryote chromosomes are organized in euchromatic and heterochromatic domains that differ in composition and packing level of the chromatin. The genes embedded in heterochromatin are often silenced due to the high level of packing and seem to be activated specifically by different regulators in different heterochromatic domains. Therefore, different requirements and regulatory pathways are likely to exist in different heterochromatic regions. Telomeres are heterochromatic regions composed by DNA and proteins that protect the end of the chromosome of terminal erosion. It is known that telomeres are important in such important processes like tumorogenesis or senescence.

With this project I pretend to achieve a better understanding of which mechanisms and path ways control the expression of genes embedded in the telomeres using the Drosophila telomeres as a model. Drosophila telomeres are cytological and functionally equivalent to most eukaryote telomeres, and therefore the obtained results will be of general interest. Nevertheless, Drosophila telomeres are an unusual variation, because instead of using telomerase they are maintained by successive transpositions of two retrotransposons, HeT-A and TART. HeT-A and TART, transpose exclusively to the end of the chromosome, and therefore they have change their parasitic nature into an indispensable cellular role. Till today, it is unknown which are the mechanisms that target HeT-A and TART exclusively to the telomeres.

Preliminary results indicate that the Gag protein from HeT-A might be responsible for driving the two telomeric retrotransposons to the end of the chromosome in different Drosophila species. The second part of the proposed project will be dedicated to study in detail the necessity and sufficiency of the H eT-A Gag protein in telomere targeting in Drosophila. Understanding the telomere targeting will be important for the telomere biology but also for possible applications of retrotransposons in gene therapy.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/chromosome
  • /medical and health sciences/medical biotechnology/genetic engineering/gene therapy

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

IRG - Marie Curie actions-International re-integration grants


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