Opening the ‘black box’ of ribosomal DNA – rDNA methylation patterns in laboratory rats from contrasting lines and environments

Main funder

Funder's project number: 26042021

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 5 000,00

Funding program

Project timetable

Project start date: 01/06/2021

Project end date: 31/12/2023


Despite its conserved sequence, rDNA remains a ‘black box’ that is missing from most genome assemblies, thus inhibiting a detailed assessment of the causes and consequences of changes in rDNA architecture. We aim to test wider theory that ribosomal rDNA architecture works as an ‘environmental sensor’ that can mediate rapid response of stress to the phenotype, providing a genetic mechanism that allows environmental cues to stimulate persistent phenotypic change and facilitate adaptation to new environment. Our pilot experiments supports this idea: dietary stress during early life alters 18S rRNA gene copy number (CN) of the bank vole offspring, and laboratory rats from two opposite selection lines for aerobic metabolism (Low Capacity Runners, LCR and High Capacity Runners, HCR) intrinsically differ in their rDNA CN profiles. To seed this research further, we propose to analyse the rDNA segment methylation profiles of LCR/HCR rat lines before and after a one-year running intervention (stress environment). This collaborative study with Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences would reveal intrinsic and extrinsic effects on the dynamics of rDNA copy number and methylation patterns.

Principal Investigator

Primary responsible unit

Last updated on 2023-20-01 at 10:15