Independent Minds, Working Together

Julie Heck

General Area of Research:

Impacts of elevated nucleotide levels on chromatin organization

Project Description:

This project involves investigation of interactions between nucleotide levels and cellular pathways affecting growth and genome stability. Elevated nucleotide levels are a hallmark of cancer in mammals and lead to a variety of phenotypes, including increased mutation rate and inhibition of checkpoint pathways, that can destabilize the genome. The pathways and mechanisms by which elevated nucleotides disrupt genome integrity are not all well understood, and so the aim of this project is to use the powerful molecular genetic tools of the model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as budding yeast, to characterize such interactions. The pathways that regulate nucleotide levels as well as those involved in genome maintenance are well conserved between yeast and humans, and so the information obtained in yeast could ultimately lead to a better understanding of carcinogenesis and to new targets for cancer therapy. For this project, the student will characterize the interactions between a mutation that elevates nucleotide levels and other mutations that affect chromatin organization. These latter mutations have been identified as potentially showing synergistic growth phenotypes with elevated nucleotide levels, but the reason for this effect on growth is unknown. The project will involve construction of mutant yeast strains and testing of those strains in a variety of assays that measure, for example, mutation rate and alterations in chromatin organization.

Related Majors:

Biology, BCMB

Skills/Classes Required:

BIOL 201 recommended