Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program



First Thesis Advisor

Greenfield Sluder, PhD


DNA Damage, Centrioles, Centrosome, Molecular Imaging


Dissertations, UMMS; DNA Damage; Centrioles; Centrosome; Molecular Imaging


This thesis comprises two separate studies that focus on the consequences of cellular damage. The first investigates the effects of DNA damage on centriole behavior and the second characterizes phototoxicity during live-cell imaging.

Cancer treatments such as ionizing radiation and/or chemotherapeutic DNA damaging agents are intended to kill tumor cells, but they also damage normal proliferating cells. Although centrosome amplification after DNA damage is a well-established phenomenon for transformed cells, it is not fully understood in untransformed cells. The presence of extra centrosomes in normal cell populations raises the chances of genomic instability, thus posing additional threats to patients undergoing these therapies. I characterized centriole behavior after DNA damage in synchronized untransformed (RPE1) human cells. Treatment with the radiomimetic drug, Doxorubicin, prolongs G2 phase by at least 72hrs, where 52% of cells display disengaged centrioles and 10% contain extra centrioles. This disengagement is mediated by Plk and APC/C activities both singly and in combination. Disengaged centrioles are associated with maturation markers suggesting they are capable of organizing spindle poles. Despite the high incidence of centriole disengagement, only a small percentage of centrioles reduplicate due to p53/p21 dependent inhibition of Cdk2 activity. Although all cells become prolonged in G2 phase, 14% eventually go through mitosis, of which 26% contain disengaged or extra centrioles.

In addition to cancer treatments, cellular damage can be acquired from various external conditions. Short wavelengths of light are known to be toxic to living cells, but are commonly used during live-cell microscopy to excite fluorescent proteins. I characterized the phototoxic effects of blue (488nm) and green (546nm) light on cell cycle progression in RPE1. For unlabeled cells, I found that exposure to green light is far less toxic than blue light, but is not benign. However, the presence of fluorescent proteins led to increased sensitivity to both blue and green light. For 488nm irradiations, spreading the total irradiation durations out into a series of 10s pulses or conducting single longer, but lower intensity, exposures made no significant changes in phototoxicity. However, reducing oxidative stress by culturing cells at physiological (~3%) oxygen, or treatment with a water-soluble antioxidant, Trolox, greatly improved the cells tolerance to blue light.

Collectively, my work offers an explanation for centrosome amplification after DNA damage and demonstrates the importance of proper centriole regulation in untransformed human cells. Further, it provides a practical assessment of photodamage during live-cell imaging.



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