Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Molecular Biology Microbiology and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Gagnon, Keith


Microsatellite repeats are a phenomenon found in DNA where a short sequence, usually 1-6bps, is repeated dozens to hundreds of times. Microsatellite repeats that are able to be transcribed are termed expanded tandem repeat-containing RNA (xtrRNA) [1]. xtrRNA have been associated with many diseases, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), which are both caused by a repeat in the C9ORF72 gene. Recent research has been focused on trying to provide treatments for patients with these diseases. This study focuses on creating a drug screening process for therapeutics targeting transcription by stopping or slowing the transcription of C9ORF72 repeat expansions. One project has focused on interrupting the interaction of two transcription factors, SUPT5H and SUPT4H1, to slow transcription. Another project has focused on slowing transcription by using transcriptional inhibitors or nucleoside analogs at low concentrations. Our hypothesis is that if transcription rates are slowed enough, pausing or arrest of RNA polymerase will be induced at complex sequences, including GC-rich regions and repeats. This should reduce synthesis of xtrRNA and provide a starting point for therapeutic development.




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