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Epigenomic and genomic landscape of Drosophila melanogaster heterochromatic genes

Saha, Parna, Sowpati, Divya Tej, Mishra, Rakesh K.
Genomics 2019 v.111 no.2 pp. 177-185
Drosophila melanogaster, data collection, developmental stages, epigenetics, genes, genomics, heterochromatin, histones, intergenic DNA, meta-analysis, nuclear matrix, transcription (genetics)
Heterochromatin is associated with transcriptional repression. In contrast, several genes in the pericentromeric regions of Drosophila melanogaster are dependent on this heterochromatic environment for their expression. Here we present a comprehensive analysis of the epigenetic landscape of heterochromatic genes across all the developmental stages of Drosophila using the available histone modification and expression data from modENCODE. We find that heterochromatic genes exhibit combinations of active and inactive histone marks that correspond to their level of expression during development. We also show that Nuclear Matrix Associated Regions (MARs) are prominently present in the intergenic regions of heterochromatic genes during embryonic stages suggesting their plausible role in pericentromeric genome organization. Taken together, our meta-analysis of the various genomic datasets suggest that the epigenomic and genomic landscape of the heterochromatic genes are distinct which could be contributing to their unusual regulatory features as opposed to the surrounding heterochromatin, which is repressive in nature.