The overall aim of the project is to improve knowledge and develop an experimental skill in the field of eukaryotic genome organization and functions, in particular of heterochromatic and centromeric regions composed of repetitive, noncoding DNA. This part of the genome seems to play a role in genome evolution and speciation. In addition a numerous regulatory signals important for the temporal and developmental control of gene expression reside within it. The project will include partial cloning and sequence assembly of heterochromatic DNA in Tribolium castaneum, an insect of economic importance, aimed to complement the data obtained by the genome sequencing project. Introduction of bioinformatics tools necessary for the survey of the whole genomes will enable additional systematic and thorough characterization of tandemly repeated satellite DNAs and study of their evolutional relation and history. Following bioinformatics approach, these sequences will be further experimentally characterized concerning their expression and function. These analyses will include transfer of modern molecular biological methods and techniques such as chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and gene silencing using RNAi, as well as biochemical methods for RNA-protein interaction analysis. Adjustment of the whole-mount in situ hybridization for the T. castaneum system and introduction of cell assay with suitable reporter genes will further contribute to the development of the competence in the field of genomics related to noncoding DNA organization and function.
The introduction of new methods and technologies necessary for the project realization will be achieved through recruitment of four external researchers and sending of four staff members to partner institutions. This will improve the research potential of Ruđer Bošković Institute, increase its international competitiveness and enable its integration with European research area in the fields of evolutionary and functional genomics. The project will also increase cooperation between researchers involved in the fields of insect genomics, and promote the training of European researchers abroad.