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Title: Spatial organisation of proto-oncogenes in human haematopoietic progenitor cells
Author: Ewels, Philip Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2013
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The eukaryotic cell nucleus is a highly organised organelle, with distinct specialised sub- compartments responsible for specific nuclear functions. Within the context of this functional framework, the genome is organised, allowing contact between specific genomic regions and sub-compartments. Previous work has shown that genes in both cis and trans can make specific contacts with each other. I hypothesise that such a preferred juxtaposition may impact the propensity for specific cancerinitiating chromosomal translocations to occur. In this thesis, I describe how I have extended and developed a ligation based proximity assay known as enriched 4C. I have coupled this technique with high throughput sequencing to determine genomic regions that spatially co-associate with the proto-oncogenes MLL, ABL1 and BCR. In addition to further developing the laboratory protocol, I have created bioinformatics tools used in the analysis of the sequencing data. I find that the association profiles of the three genes show strong correlation to the binding profile of RNA polymerase II and other active marks, suggesting that transcribed genes have a propensity to associate with other transcribed regions of the genome. Each gene also exhibits a unique repertoire of preferred associations with specific regions of the genome. Significantly, I find that the most frequent trans association of BCR is telomeric chromosome 9, encompassing its recurrent translocation partner gene ABL1. Interestingly, ABL1 is not at the maximum point of interaction. I use DNA-fluorescence in-situ hybridisation to validate the e4C association. My data supports a hypothesis that gene transcription has a direct role on genome organisation. I suggest that preferred co-associations of genes at transcription factories may promote the occurrence of specific chromosomal translocations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Proto-oncogenes ; Hematopoietic stem cells