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Title: How does the chromatin remodeler ATRX identify its targets in the genome?
Author: Nguyen, Diu Thi Thanh
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 7776
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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ATRX is a chromatin remodeling protein associated with X-linked Alpha-Thalassemia Mental Retardation syndrome and cancers that use the Alternative Lengthening of Telomere pathway. In the absence of ATRX there is a DNA damage response associated with telomeres and the expression of certain genes are perturbed. Recent findings (Law et al, 2010 Cell) have shown that ATRX is preferentially enriched at GC-rich tandem repeats in the genome. The mechanism for this localisation is unknown but may be related to the potential for these GC-rich tandem repeats to adopt non-B form DNA structures; ATRX has been shown to bind such structures (G4) in vitro. This study aims to understand the specific factors of the repeats that signal ATRX targeting. To address the research questions, an experimental system was developed, in which known targets, the ψζ VNTR and telomere repeats, were inserted into an inducible ectopic gene in the 293T-Rex cell line by site-directed recombination. ATRX was found to be enriched at the ectopic repeats compared to an endogenous negative control suggesting that it is recruited by the repeats independent of its original context. Furthermore, ATRX enrichment increased upon transcription of the ectopic gene, and this was dependent on the orientation of the repeat with the non-template strand being G-rich. Interestingly, when the repeat was transcribed, the distribution of ATRX across the repeats was asymmetrical with most ATRX binding downstream of the repeat. Moreover, there was a direct correlation between the repeat size and level of ATRX bound: the longer the repeat the higher the increase in ATRX enrichment. To determine the signal for ATRX binding, assays were performed to look for features which reflected the distribution of ATRX including H3K9me3, RNA polII, G4, R loops and DNA supercoiling. R loops look to be a strong candidate for the signaling of ATRX binding.
Supervisor: Gibbons, Richard Sponsor: Medical Research Council ; European Commission
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Clinical laboratory sciences ; ATR-X syndrome ; chromatin remodelling factors ; R-loops ; G-quadruplexes ; GC-rich tandem repeats ; non-B DNA structures