Gene Expression, Cell Cycle & Chromosome Biology
Gametic specialization of centromeric histone paralogs in insect species
Centromeres are the chromosomal regions that link DNA to the spindle during cell division, thus ensuring faithful segregation of genetic material. Proper centromere function is critical for eukaryotic life. Despite the fact that centromeres are essential for life, centromeric architecture is remarkably diverse. Moreover, centromeric DNA sequences and centromeric proteins evolve rapidly in diverse organisms. Despite this, the hallmark of many functional centromeres is the presence of a specialized centromeric H3 variant called CenH3. Despite being essential for chromosome segregation in most eukaryotes, CenH3 also evolves rapidly in plants and animals. I study the rapidly evolution of CenH3 in Drosophila. Specifically, I study instances in which CenH3 has duplicated and may have undergone subfunctionalization. I am intrigued by the possibility that these duplications may have arisen in response to genetic conflict such as centromere drive or due to intralocus antagonism.
I use a variety of approaches to study CenH3 duplications in Drosophila including phylogenomic analyses, cell biology and genetics. Using this combination of techniques, I hope to answer the following questions: What evolutionary pressures are acting on CenH3 paralogs in Drosophila? What are the functions of duplicate CenH3s? Is CenH3 duplication a way to relieve intralocus antagonism?