Identification of Telomere Regulating Genes in Drosophila melanogaster

Telomeres contribute to the maintenance of chromosome stability. In Drosophila melanogaster, telomeres are composed of and extended by non-LTR retrotransposons. Previously, a genetic factor called Telomere elongation (Tel) was discovered on the third chromosome of fruit flies that can enhance telomere elongation. Another telomere-elongating gene was also identified in this chromosomal region. In the present study, we used a bioinformatic approach to identify the genes in this chromosomal region that have been indicated to influence chromosomal stability. We hypothesized that the genes that can modulate chromosomal structure or remodeling have the potential to regulate the telomere length or structure. We extracted genomic DNA from various mutant strains of these candidate genes. Using real-time PCR, we have analyzed the telomere length among different mutant strains. In addition, to probe whether disruption of these gene candidates causes a structural defect of telomeres, we are performing polytene chromosome staining. Currently, we have identified two genes, CG6026 and Ino80, whose mutation can lead to elongated telomeres while other tested candidate genes do not affect the telomere length. This research can help understand the molecular regulatory mechanisms of telomere elongation and structure in fruit flies, which in turn may shed light on the mechanisms of alternative lengthening of telomeres in human cancer cells.