Interdisciplinary Graduate Program
Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
First Thesis Advisor
Nicholas Rhind, PhD.
DNA Replication, Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins, Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases, Replication Origin, Cell Cycle Proteins, CDC2 Protein Kinase, Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal, DNA Damage
Cells need to complete DNA replication in a timely and error-free manner. To ensure that replication is completed efficiently and in a finite amount of time, cells regulate origin firing. To prevent any errors from being transmitted to the next generation, cells have the checkpoint mechanism.
The S-phase DNA damage slows replication to allow the cell to repair the damage. The mechanism of replication slowing by the checkpoint was not clear in fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, at the start of my thesis. The downstream targets of the DNA damage checkpoint in fission yeast were also unclear. I worked on identifying the downstream targets for the checkpoint by studying if Cdc25, a phosphatase, is a target of the checkpoint.
Work from our lab has shown that origin firing is stochastic in fission yeast. Origins are also known to be inefficient. Inefficient origins firing stochastically would lead to large stretches of chromosome where no origins may fire randomly leading to long replication times, an issue called the random gap problem. However, cells do not take a long time to complete replication and the process of replication itself is efficient. I focused on understanding the mechanism by which cells complete replication and avoid the random gap problem by attempting to measure the firing efficiency of late origins.
Genome-wide origin studies in fission yeast have identified several hundred origins. However, the resolution of these studies can be improved upon.
I began a genome-wide origin mapping study using deep sequencing to identify origins at a greater resolution compared to the previous studies. We have extended our origin search to two other Schizosaccharomyces species- S. octosporus and S. japonicus.There have been no origin mapping studies on these fission yeasts and identifying origins in these species will advance the field of replication.
My thesis research shows that Cdc25 is not a target of the S-phase DNA damage checkpoint. I showed that DNA damage checkpoint does not target Cdc2-Y15 to slow replication. Based on my preliminary observation, origin firing might be inhibited by the DNA damage checkpoint as a way to slow replication. My efforts to measure the firing efficiency of a late replicating sequence were hindered by potentially unidentified inefficient origins firing at a low rate and replicating the region being studied. Studying the origin efficiency was maybe further complicated by neighboring origins being able to passively replicate the region. To identify origins in recently sequenced Schizosaccharomyces species, we initiated the genome-wide origin mapping. The mapping was also done on S. pombe to identify inefficient origins not mapped by other mapping studies. My work shows that deep sequencing can be used to map origins in other species and provides a powerful tool for origin studies.
Kommajosyula, N. Regulation of DNA Replication Origins in Fission Yeast: A Dissertation. (2009). University of Massachusetts Medical School. GSBS Dissertations and Theses. Paper 436. DOI: 10.13028/pkad-8f31. https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/gsbs_diss/436
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