"Epigenetic determinants of genome stability for mammalian tissue", (project 1)
This project will elucidate epigenetic mechanisms promoting genome instability when tissue homeostasis declines with age and under physiological stress. We discovered elevated G– quadruplex (G4) DNA secondary structure formation in mutated highly transcribed gene regulatory regions of cancer, suggesting dysregulated G4s as promoter of genome instability. We have and continue to gather evidence that dysregulated G4s emerge before cancer development in physiologically aged murine tissues and rapidly aged murine and human models. We hypothesize here that dysregulated G4 secondary structure formation may promote genome instability and heterostasis in aged and stress-induced rodent tissues. By exploiting our newly developed multiomics technology to jointly map epigenetically linked DNA breakage landscapes, beyond association, we will identify epigenetic mechanisms that critically drive persistent and/or elevated DNA breakage. To identify epigenetic regulators that promote an increase in epigenetically linked DNA breakage in tissues of our rodent models, we will use computational predictions and experimental associations of our multiomics data with existing data sets. We will use proximity ligation proteomics of tissue-derived nuclei to directly link regulatory factors to epigenetically linked DNA breakage and validate these findings by genetic loss-of-function in C. elegans.