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The high level of conservation of genes that regulate DNA replication and repair indicates that they may serve as a source of information on the origin and evolution of the species and makes them a reliable system for the identification of cross-species homologs. Studies that had been conducted to date shed light on the processes of DNA replication and repair in bacteria, yeast and mammals. However, there is still much to be learned about the process of DNA damage repair in plants.
These studies, which were conducted mainly using bioinformatics tools, enabled the list of genes that participate in various pathways of DNA repair in Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh to be outlined; however, information regarding these mechanisms in crop plants is still very limited. A similar, functional approach is particularly difficult for a species whose complete genomic sequences are still unavailable. One of the solutions is to apply ESTs (Expressed Sequence Tags) as the basis for gene identification. For the construction of the barley EST DNA Replication and Repair Database (bEST-DRRD), presented here, the Arabidopsis nucleotide and protein sequences involved in DNA replication and repair were used to browse for and retrieve the deposited sequences, derived from four barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) sequence databases, including the “Barley Genome version 0.05” database (encompassing ca. 90% of barley coding sequences) and from two databases covering the complete genomes of two monocot models: Oryza sativa L. and Brachypodium distachyon L. in order to identify homologous genes. Sequences of the categorised Arabidopsis queries are used for browsing the repositories, which are located on the ViroBLAST platform. The bEST-DRRD is currently used in our project during the identification and validation of the barley genes involved in DNA repair.
The presented database provides information about the Arabidopsis genes involved in DNA replication and repair, their expression patterns and models of protein interactions. It was designed and established to provide an open-access tool for the identification of monocot homologs of known Arabidopsis genes that are responsible for DNA-related processes. The barley genes identified in the project are currently being analysed to validate their function.