Our research activity is aimed at addressing a whole range of different evolutionary questions through a multidisciplinary approach, combining computational and experimental methods such as available genome databases and a battery of molecular, cytogenetic and cell biology, and by studying the genomes of different mammalian species. We propose to deepen and extend our past work on the study of evolutionary breakpoints in a wide range of mammalian species and to open new research avenues in the study of genome evolution and evolutionary breakpoints.
1. “In silico” and experimental study of evolutionary breakpoints. Several reconstructions of the ancestral architecture of mammalian genomes have revealing striking aspects of mammalian chromosome evolutionary history, such as the suggestion that evolutionary breakpoints are clustered in regions that are more prone to break and reorganize. Our research activity in the last five years has been focused on the analysis of evolutionary breakpoints in different mammalian species. Such analyses suggest that evolutionary breakpoints are clustering in “hotspots”, that these regions are enriched for repetitive elements, and that the more commonly occurring human cancer-associated breakpoints tend to frequently co-localize with evolutionary breakpoints.
2. Chromosomal territories. Eukaryotic nuclei are compartmentalized and highly organized into discrete, three-dimensional chromosome territories or domains (CTs). This organization is non-random; gene-rich chromosomes tend to reside in the inner portion of nuclei while gene-poor ones dwell at the nuclear periphery. This peculiar interphase positioning has been evolutionary conserved. Active euchromatin and genetically inert heterochromatin follow gene-richness nuclear distribution and locate in the central region and nuclear border, respectively. It is the intention of the group to expand our limited knowledge of the organization of the chromatid in the interphase nucleous in primate species.
3. Meiotic recombination in mammals. Meiosis is a specialized cell division by which haploid gametes (containing a single copy of each chromosome) are generated. Is in this context where the research activity of the group is focused: described the basis of meiotic recombination in different mammalian species and related this process with evolutionary mechanisms.