GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology

First Thesis Advisor

Michael Brodsky


DNA Damage, DNA Repair, Epigenesis, Genetic, Drosophila Proteins, Telomere-Binding Proteins, Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone, DNA-Binding Proteins


Several aspects of Drosophila telomere biology indicate that telomere protection can be regulated by an epigenetic mechanism. First, terminally deleted chromosomes can be stably inherited and do not induce damage responses such as apoptosis or cell cycle arrest. Second, the telomere protection proteins HP1 and HOAP localize normally to these chromosomes and protect them from fusions. Third, unprotected telomeres still contain HeT-A sequences at sites of fusions. Taken together these observations support a model in which an epigenetic mechanism mediated by DNA damage response proteins protects Drosophilatelomeres from fusion.

Work presented in this thesis demonstrates that the Drosophila proteins ATM and Nbs are required for the regulation of DNA damage responses similar to their yeast and mammalian counterparts. This work also establishes a role for the ATM and ATR DNA damage response pathways in the protection of both normal and terminally deleted chromosomes. Mutations that disrupt both pathways result in a severe telomere fusion phenotype, similar to HP1 and HOAP mutants. Consistent with this phenotype, HOAP localization at atm,atr double mutant telomeres is completely eliminated. Furthermore, telomeric sequences are still present, even at the sites of fusions. These results support a model in which an epigenetic mechanism mediated by DNA damage response proteins protects Drosophila telomeres from fusion.



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