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Evolution and Impact of Heterochromatin on a Young Drosophila Y chromosome

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 UNICODE project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the UNICODE project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "UNICODE" about.

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Project "UNICODE" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: WIEN
postcode: 1010

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Austria [AT]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙971˙846 €
 EC max contribution 1˙971˙846 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-08-01   to  2021-07-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITAT WIEN AT (WIEN) coordinator 1˙971˙846.00


 Project objective

The transition from euchromatin to heterochromatin is a fundamental process that particularly reshaped the epigenomic landscape of Y chromosome. Its definitive genomic underpinning and broad functional impact are still unclear, as heterochromatin (e.g., that of human Y) is usually too repetitive to study. I have previously demonstrated that, the young Y (‘neo-Y’) chromosome of Drosophila miranda has just initiated such a transition, thus is a powerful model to unveil the evolution, regulation and functional interaction of heterochromatin. I showed that this neo-Y still harbours over 1800 genes, and only 20-50% of the sequences are transposable elements (TE). Over five years, I aim to: 1) precisely resolve the structure and insertion sites of TEs as a pre-requisite for studying heterochromatin, by combining state-of-art sequencing and bioinformatic techniques. 2) I will reveal the de novo heterochromatin formation triggered by TE insertions or the heterochromatin/euchromatin boundary shifts on the neo-Y, by comparing the binding profiles of histone modification hallmarks and insulator proteins of D. miranda to its sibling species D. pseudoobscura, which lacks the neo-Y. Such epigenomic changes have likely driven the exaptation or innovation of small RNA pathways that govern the TE mobility. 3) I will then identify the responsible small RNAs and their encoding loci, which are expected to have newly emerged or differentially expressed in D. miranda relative to D. pseudoobscura. 4) Finally, I will develop CRISPR/Cas9 in D. miranda to manipulate the expression of TEs encoding such small RNAs on the neo-Y, in order to scrutinize how TE/heterochromatin evolution on the Y would impact the chromatin landscape of the entire host genome. The combined aim of this multidisciplinary project is to generate a framework for understanding the basic mechanisms of how heterochromatin evolves; and open a new avenue toward the discovery of Y chromosome function beyond male determination.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Zhang, Jia-Yu; Zhou, Qi
On the regulatory evolution of new genes throughout their life history
published pages: , ISSN: 0737-4038, DOI: 10.1101/276667
Molecular Biology and Evolution 1 2019-10-29

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