Proper replication of the DNA is critical for passing on of the genetic information when a cell divides. Alterations to the DNA code, which occur as a result of both intrinsic and extrinsic DNA damage, can cause gene mutations leading to alterations in protein function and expression. This may ultimately lead to disease states such as cancer. Therefore, the cellular response to replication stress is important for maintaining the genomic integrity and health of an organism. The replication stress response is complex and requires the coordination of a number of cellular pathways, including cell cycle checkpoint, replication fork and replisome stabilization, prevention and restart of replication fork re-firing, DNA damage repair, and restart of DNA replication. Due to the intricacy of these pathways, understanding of these responses is an ongoing process in which new players are being discovered regularly. We believe a number of novel proteins associated with the replication stress response are yet to be identified. Consequently, in Aim 1 we propose to use a whole genome siRNA approach in order to identify proteins that play a role in replication stress responses. An immunofluorescence assay utilizing thymidine analog incorporation and the replication stress inducer hydroxyurea has been designed to uncover proteins that are necessary for replication stress repair and replication restart. This assay takes advantage of the 384-well plate format and high-throughput analysis of immunofluorescent data in order to quickly identify proteins of interest. Once proteins of interest are validated, they will be furthe characterized in Aim 2 to classify them and prioritize their function in the replication stress response. Classification and prioritization will be based upon bioinformatics analyses and experimental evaluation to determine sensitivity to hydroxyurea and replication stress, subcellular localization of the protein, effect on DNA replication and replication fork dynamics, as well as determination of whether the protein is involved in an ATR-dependent or -independent pathway. These analyses will allow for identification of high- priority proteins playing roles in the replication stress response. Further studies will focus on determining the mechanisms by which these proteins function during replication stress. The proposed aims will allow for identification of novel replication stress response proteins that will deepen our understanding of DNA replication and repair and how these pathways contribute to genomic stability. A greater appreciation for the proteins and mechanisms that function in genomic stability will ultimately lead to improved developments in cancer diagnostics and therapeutics.

Public Health Relevance

The cellular response to replication stress is complex and poorly understood. The goal of the aims proposed in this grant is to identify and characterize novel replication stress proteins using a whole genome siRNA library approach. Insights into the mechanistic function of these novel proteins will lead to greater understanding of the replication stress response and its role in maintaining genomic integrity to prevent cancer.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F08-Q (20))
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Janes, Daniel E
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
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Kavanaugh, Gina; Zhao, Runxiang; Guo, Yan et al. (2015) Enhancer of Rudimentary Homolog Affects the Replication Stress Response through Regulation of RNA Processing. Mol Cell Biol 35:2979-90
Kavanaugh, Gina; Ye, Fei; Mohni, Kareem N et al. (2015) A whole genome RNAi screen identifies replication stress response genes. DNA Repair (Amst) 35:55-62
Mohni, Kareem N; Kavanaugh, Gina M; Cortez, David (2014) ATR pathway inhibition is synthetically lethal in cancer cells with ERCC1 deficiency. Cancer Res 74:2835-45