In eukaryotes, DNA replication begins at specific sites in their genomes designated as origins of replication. Even though origins have been mapped to specific sequences in yeast, it has proven more difficult to define origins in higher eukaryotes. We are collaborating with other scientists to characterize plant origins of replication and to determine their relationships to matrix attachment regions, DNA methylation sites, recruitment of modified histones and transcriptional activity. These studies will use a combination of molecular, cellular and genomic techniques to generate functional maps for Arabidopsis and rice chromosomes. When completed, the project will provide insight into how chromosome functions are spatially organized and coordinated in structural and functional domains. Comparison of these maps with data for other eukaryotes will provide insight into chromosomal features conserved among all eukaryotes and identify characteristics unique to the plant kingdom.

As a first step, we used a bioinformatic approach to identify the genes encoding the core DNA replication machinery in Arabidopsis and rice. This study indicated that plant replication proteins are more closely related to animals than yeast.

Project website

Our collaborators on this project are William F. Thompson, (NCSU), George Allen (NCSU), Bryon Sosinski (NCSU), Doreen Main (Washington State University), and Rob Martienssen (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory).

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