Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology

First Thesis Advisor

Heidi A. Tissenbaum Ph.D.


Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins, Bloom Syndrome, Genomic Instability, Longevity, Transcription Factors


In humans, Bloom’s Syndrome is caused by a mutation of the RecQ helicase BLM. Patients with Bloom’s Syndrome exhibit a high amount of genomic instability which results in a high incidence of cancer. Though Bloom’s Syndrome has been intensively studied, there are still many questions about the function of BLM which need to be answered. While it is clear that loss of BLM increases genomic instability, the other effects of genomic instability on the organism aside from cancer such as a potential effect on aging, have yet to be elucidated.

In Chapter II, I identify new phenotypes in the C. elegans ortholog of BLM, him-6. him-6 mutants have an increased rate of cell death, a mortal germ line phenotype, and an increased rate of mutations. Upon further examination of the mutator phenotype, it was determined that the increased rate of mutations was caused by small insertions and deletions. The mutator phenotype identified in him-6 mutants closely mimics the cellular phenotype seen in Bloom’s Syndrome cells. This indicates that HIM-6 may behave in a similar fashion to BLM. In addition to the mutator phenotype, it was found that loss of him-6causes a shortened life span. This may provide evidence that there is a link between genomic stability and aging.

In Chapter III, I identify a new role for the transcription factor DAF-16. DAF-16 in C. elegans has been intensively studied and regulates a wide variety of pathways. In this chapter, I demonstrate via the well established unc-93 assay that loss of daf-16 causes a subtle mutator phenotype in C. elegans. This indicates that DAF-16 may play a role in suppression of spontaneous mutation. When I examined other classic genomic instability phenotypes, I found at 25°C, the number of progeny in the DAF-16 mutants was significantly reduced compared to wild type worms. Additionally, I demonstrate daf-16(mu86)has a cell death defect.

This study identifies several new phenotypes caused by a loss of him-6. These phenotypes provide further evidence that loss of him-6 causes genomic instability. In addition, this study also demonstrates that him-6 has a shortened life span which may be due to genomic instability. Secondly, this study identifies a new role for DAF-16 in preventing the occurrence of spontaneous mutations. This may indicate a novel function for DAF-16 in maintaining genomic stability.



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