GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology

First Thesis Advisor

Michael R. Green


Transcriptional Activation, Genes, Tumor Suppressor


The development of methods and techniques is the driving force of scientific research. In this work, we described two large-scale screens in studying transcriptional activation and tumor suppression.

In Part I, we studied transcriptional activation mechanisms by deriving and characterizing activation defective mutants. Promoter-specific transcriptional activators stimulate transcription through direct interactions with one or more components of the transcription machinery, termed the “target.” The identification of direct in vivo targets of activators has been a major challenge. We perform a large-scale genetic screen to derive and characterize tra1 alleles that are selectively defective for interaction with Gal4 in vivo. Utilizing these mutants, we demonstrated that Tra is an essential target for Gal4 activation, Gal4 and Tra1 bind cooperatively at the promoter and the Gal4–Tra1 interaction occurs predominantly on the promoter. In addition, we demonstrated that the Gal4-interaction site on Tra1 is highly selective.

In Part II, we described a functional genomics approach to discover new tumor suppressor genes. A goal of contemporary cancer research is to identify the genes responsible for neoplastic transformation. Cells that are immortalized but non-tumorigenic were stably transduced with pools of short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) and tested for their ability to form tumors in mice. ShRNAs in any resulting tumors were identified by sequencing to reveal candidate TSGs, which were then validated both experimentally and clinically by analysis of human tumor samples. Using this approach, we identified and validated 33 candidate TSGs. We found that most candidate TSGs were down-regulated in >70% of human lung squamous cell carcinoma (hLSCC) samples, and 17 candidate TSGs negatively regulate FGFR signalling pathway, and their ectopic expression inhibited growth of hLSCC xenografts. Furthermore, we suggest that by examining at the expression level of TSGs in lung cancer patients, we can predict their drug responsiveness to FGFR inhibitors. In conclusion, we have identified many new lung squamous cell cancer TSGs, using an experimental strategy that can be broadly applied to find TSGs in other tumor types.



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