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Title: Investigation of the role of long non-coding RNAs in oncogene induced cellular senescence
Author: Hewitt, Rachael Nicole
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 6523
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2015
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Cellular senescence is a stable arrest of cell proliferation induced by several factors such as activated oncogenes, oxidative stress and shortening of telomeres. Senescence acts as a tumour suppression mechanism to halt the progression of cancer. However, senescence may also impact negatively upon tissue regeneration, thus contributing to the effects of ageing. The eukaryotic genome is controlled by various modes of transcriptional and translational regulation. Focus has therefore centred on the role of long non- coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in regulating the genome. Accordingly, understanding how lncRNAs function to regulate the senescent genome is integral to improving our knowledge and understanding of tumour suppression and ageing. Within this study, I set out to investigate the expression of lncRNAs’ expression within models of senescence. Through a custom expression array, I have shown that expression of multiple different lncRNAs is up-regulated and down regulated in IMR90 replicative senescent fibroblasts and oncogene-induced senescent melanocytes. LncRNA expression was determined to be specific to stable senescence-associated cell arrest and predominantly within the nucleus of senescent cells. In order to examine the function of lncRNA expression in senescence, I selected lncRNA transcript ENST0000430998 (lncRNA_98) to focus my investigations upon. LncRNA_98 was robustly upregulated within multiple models of senescence and efficiently depleted using anti-sense oligonucleotide technology. Characterisation and unbiased RNA-sequencing of lncRNA_98 deficient senescent cells highlighted a list of genes that are regulated by lncRNA_98 expression in senescent cells and may regulate aspects of the senescence program. Specifically, the formation of SAHF was impeded upon depletion of lncRNA_98 expression and levels of total pRB protein expression severely decreased. Validation and recapitulation of consequences of pRB depletion was confirmed through lncRNA_98 knock-out cells generated using CRISPR technology. Surprisingly, inhibition of ATM kinase functions permitted the restoration of pRB protein levels within lncRNA_98 deficient cells. I propose that lncRNA_98 antagonizes the ability of ATM kinase to downregulate pRB expression at a post-transcriptional level, thereby potentiating senescence. Furthermore, lncRNA expression was detected within fibroblasts of old individuals and visualised within senescent melanocytes in human benign nevi, a barrier to melanoma progression. Conversely, mining of 337 TCGA primary melanoma data sets highlighted that the lncRNA_98 gene and its expression was lost from a significant proportion of melanoma samples, consistent with lncRNA_98 having a tumour suppressor functions. The data presented in this study illustrates that lncRNA_98 expression has a regulatory role over pRB expression in senescence and may regulate aspects of tumourigenesis and ageing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Q Science (General)