MOTIVATION: In eukaryotes, the family of non-coding RNA genes includes a number of genes encoding small nucleolar RNAs (mainly C/D and H/ACA snoRNAs), which act as guides in the maturation or post-transcriptional modifications of target RNA molecules. Since in Drosophila melanogaster (Dm) only few examples of snoRNAs have been identified so far by cDNA libraries screening, integration of the molecular data with in silico identification of these types of genes could throw light on their organization in the Dm genome. RESULTS: We have performed a computational screening of the Dm genome for C/D snoRNA genes, followed by experimental validation of the putative candidates. Few of the 26 confirmed snoRNAs had been recognized by cDNA library analysis. Organization of the Dm genome was also found to be more variegated than previously suspected, with snoRNA genes nested in both the introns and exons of protein-coding genes. This finding suggests that the presence of additional mechanisms of snoRNA biogenesis based on the alternative production of overlapping mRNA/snoRNA molecules. AVAILABILITY: Additional information is available at http://www.bioinformatica.unito.it/bioinformatics/snoRNAs.
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