GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Program in Molecular Medicine and Program in Cell Dynamics

First Thesis Advisor

Kirsten Hagstrom, Ph.D.


DRM, X-chromosomes, Development, C.elegans, X-silencing, Chromosome-biased binding, Caenorhabditis elegans, Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins, Transcription Factors, Trans-Activators, Chromosomes, Human, X, Gene Expression Regulation


DRM is a conserved transcription factor complex that includes E2F/DP and pRB family proteins and plays important roles in the cell cycle and cancer. Recent work has unveiled a new aspect of DRM function in regulating genes involved in development and differentiation. These studies, however, were performed with cultured cells and a genome-wide study involving intact organisms undergoing active proliferation and differentiation was lacking. Our goal was to extend the knowledge of the role of DRM in gene regulation through development and in multiple tissues. To accomplish this, we employed genomic approaches to determine genome-wide targets of DRM using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system. In this dissertation, I focus on the DRM component LIN-54 since it was proposed to exhibit DNA-binding activity. First, we confirmed the DNA-binding activity of C.elegans LIN-54 in vivo, and showed it is essential to recruit the DRM complex to its target genes. Next, chromatin immunoprecipitation and gene expression profiling revealed that LIN-54 controls transcription of genes implicated in cell division, development and reproduction. This work identified an interesting contrast in DRM function in soma vs. germline: DRM promotes transcription of germline-specific genes in the germline, but prevents their ectopic expression in the soma. Furthermore, we discovered a novel characteristic of DRM, sex chromosome-biased binding and function. We demonstrated that C. elegans DRM preferentially binds autosomes, yet regulates X-chromosome silencing by counteracting the H3K36 histone methyltransferase MES-4. By using genomics, cytology, and genetics, we defined DRM as an important player in the regulation of germline X-chromosome gene expression, and addressed molecular mechanisms vii behind the antagonistic interactions between DRM and MES-4. I present a model to explain the interplay of DRM and MES-4, and propose a novel function of DRM and MES-4 in maintaining proper chromosome gene expression dosage. This work extends our knowledge of the conserved roles of DRM in development, and provides a new view of differing DRM functions in soma versus germline. Furthermore, we defined a novel chromosome-specific aspect of DRM-mediated regulation.


This dissertation includes two supplemental spreadsheets for Chapter II. See Additional Files below.



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S1_ LIN-54 ChIP and GO_2.xls (4190 kB)
Supplementary Table S1. LIN-54 ChIP peak locations, bound genes, GO terms of bound genes, and genes commonly bound between C. elegans and D. melanogaster or human

S2_LIN-54 microarray and GO.xls (434 kB)
Supplementary Table S2. LIN-54 responsive genes and their GO terms. (Tab 1) Genes with changed expression in lin-54(n2990) embryos