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Genome-driven targeted cancer therapy

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Cancer is a heterogeneous disease with discrete oncogenic mechanisms. P53 mutation is the most common oncogenic mutation in many cancers including breast cancer. This dissertation focuses on fundamental genetic alterations enforced by p53 mutation as an indirect target. p53 mutation

Cancer is a heterogeneous disease with discrete oncogenic mechanisms. P53 mutation is the most common oncogenic mutation in many cancers including breast cancer. This dissertation focuses on fundamental genetic alterations enforced by p53 mutation as an indirect target. p53 mutation upregulates the mevalonate pathway genes altering cholesterol biosynthesis and prenylation. Prenylation, a lipid modification, is required for small GTPases signaling cascades. Project 1 demonstrates that prenylation inhibition can specifically target cells harboring p53 mutation resulting in reduced tumor proliferation and migration. Mutating p53 is associated with Ras and RhoA activation and statin prevents this activity by inhibiting prenylation. Ras-related pathway genes were selected from the transcriptomic analysis for evaluating correlation to statin sensitivity. A gene signature of seventeen genes and TP53 genotype (referred to as MPR signature) is generated to predict response to statins. MPR signature is validated through two datasets of drug screening in cell lines. As advancements in targeted gene modification are rising, the CRISPR-Cas9 technology has emerged as a new cancer therapeutic strategy. One of the important risk factors in gene therapy is the immune recognition of the exogenous therapeutic tool, resulting in obstruction of treatment and possibly serious health consequences. Project 2 describes a method development that can potentially improve the safety and efficacy of gene-targeting proteins. A cohort of 155 healthy individuals was screened for pre-existing B cell and T cell immune response to the S. pyogenes Cas9 protein. We detected antibodies against Cas9 in more than 10% of the healthy population and identified two immunodominant T cell epitopes of this protein. A de-immunized Cas9 that maintains the wild-type functionality was engineered by mutating the identified T cell epitopes. The gene signature and method described here have the potential to improve strategies for genome-driven tumor targeting.

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Date Created
2017

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Comparative genomics and novel bioinformatics methodology applied to the green anole reveal unique sex chromosome evolution

Description

In species with highly heteromorphic sex chromosomes, the degradation of one of the sex chromosomes can result in unequal gene expression between the sexes (e.g., between XX females and XY males) and between the sex chromosomes and the autosomes. Dosage

In species with highly heteromorphic sex chromosomes, the degradation of one of the sex chromosomes can result in unequal gene expression between the sexes (e.g., between XX females and XY males) and between the sex chromosomes and the autosomes. Dosage compensation is a process whereby genes on the sex chromosomes achieve equal gene expression which prevents deleterious side effects from having too much or too little expression of genes on sex chromsomes. The green anole is part of a group of species that recently underwent an adaptive radiation. The green anole has XX/XY sex determination, but the content of the X chromosome and its evolution have not been described. Given its status as a model species, better understanding the green anole genome could reveal insights into other species. Genomic analyses are crucial for a comprehensive picture of sex chromosome differentiation and dosage compensation, in addition to understanding speciation.

In order to address this, multiple comparative genomics and bioinformatics analyses were conducted to elucidate patterns of evolution in the green anole and across multiple anole species. Comparative genomics analyses were used to infer additional X-linked loci in the green anole, RNAseq data from male and female samples were anayzed to quantify patterns of sex-biased gene expression across the genome, and the extent of dosage compensation on the anole X chromosome was characterized, providing evidence that the sex chromosomes in the green anole are dosage compensated.

In addition, X-linked genes have a lower ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitution rates than the autosomes when compared to other Anolis species, and pairwise rates of evolution in genes across the anole genome were analyzed. To conduct this analysis a new pipeline was created for filtering alignments and performing batch calculations for whole genome coding sequences. This pipeline has been made publicly available.

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Date Created
2016