On May 14th, the Mellone lab at Connecticut University and the Larracuente laboratory of Rochester University published a revolutionary study. Scientists were now able to combine several innovational technologies to fully document all the centromeres found in a species of fruit flies that is widely recognized by the science world as being a model of reference for these types of research.
Combining traditional and innovative technology to decipher the unreachable parts of centromeres
This study has the aim of gaining additional information about the organization of the centromeres at the DNA level since although now we have access to studying centromeres for a long time as they are visible under the microscope, we have very little information about these genome compartments. This is due to the limited technology available at this point that allows scientists to document unique DNA fully but makes it extremely difficult to access such highly repetitive DNA.
To solve this issue, the specialists combined the conventional method with several different more technologically advanced approaches and managed to create a relevant, intact image of the centromeres. They found that among the enormous amount of repetitive sequences, there were parts of complex DNA, that are believed to have the potential to reveal how the centromeres fully function.
Retroelements – the key to deciphering the centromere’s function?
The specialists have discovered inside the centromeres numerous retroelements, which are transportable sequences that can transfer and selfishly reproduce themselves. It is believed that they might play a significant role in the function of centromeres not only for flies but also for several other species, as studies show that a specific retroelement was found in all centromeres not only of the fruit fly but also in a similar species analyzed.
Barbara Mellone, one of the authors of this study also states that as long as they have access to analyze the centromeres sequences thoroughly, scientists are now ready to conduct further robust analysis to fully comprehend what is the part do these sequences play in the evolution and function of the centromere.