Name(s): Sajith Wickramasekara and Andrew Guo High School(s): North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Mentor: Dr. Craig B. Bennett Project Title: A Functional Genomic Framework for Chemotherapeutic Drug Improvement and Identification.
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High School(s): North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Mentor: Dr. Craig B. Bennett
Project Title: A Functional Genomic Framework for Chemotherapeutic Drug Improvement and Identification
Chemotherapeutic drugs function by inducing cytotoxicity in rapidly dividing cells through mitotic impairment or forced apoptosis. It is common for non-cancerous cells to be affected by these drugs, resulting in detrimental side effects. To mediate these undesired responses, we proposed a genomic framework using the eukaryotic yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae deletion collection to identify genes that confer resistance to DNA damaging agents including chemotherapeutic drugs. Based on the genomic conservation of yeast with humans, we determined human orthologs to our yeast targets and verified their roles in mediating cellular response to DNA damage. Our initial genome-wide screen in diploid yeast identified 376 genes that conferred resistance to the widely used G1/S phase chemotherapeutic drug, doxorubicin. A similar haploid yeast screen identified five-fold fewer targets, which, due to a lack of recombination ability in G1 haploids, suggests the presence of a G1/S specific DNA repair network in diploid yeast. To further test our framework we screened the G1 toxin zymocin and identified significant genetic overlap with the genes that mediate doxorubicin resistance, indicating zymocin’s potential as a chemotherapeutic agent. Successful development of our framework has direct application in sensitizing tumors, identifying novel treatments, and building a foundation for personalized medicine.