Cutting-Edge Research
in Kyoto University


Why are Genomic “Garbage Cans” Important? Seeking the pathway that Chromosome evolve from constitutive heterochromatin.

Constitutive heterochromatin regions (black regions in fig. left) are colloquially called genomic garbage cans because they are filled with junk DNA (inert genetic material). However, these so-called ‘wastelands’ are actually quite important for the creation of chromosome changes and/or karyotype evolution. In monocentric chromosomes with a single centromere, that centromere and its vicinity provide an important apparatus for morphological differentiation among chromosomes and constituting markers for karyotype evolution. The apparatus is generally composed of multiple repetitive DNA sequences, and can be analyzed via fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) techniques using specific DNA probes (fig. right). My work investigates the evolutionary pathways of chromosomes from the perspectives of such structural and component alterations.

Hirohisa Hirai, PhD
Professor, Primate Research Institute