Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Toxicology and Cancer Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Guo-Min Li


Genomic instability, in the form of gene mutations, insertions/deletions, and gene amplifications, is one of the hallmarks in many types of cancers and other inheritable genetic disorders. Trinucleotide repeat (TNR) disorders, such as Huntington’s disease (HD) and Myotonic dystrophy (DM) can be inherited and repeats may be extended through subsequent generations. However, it is not clear how the CAG repeats expand through generations in HD. Two possible repeat expansion mechanisms include: 1) polymerase mediated repeat extension; 2) persistent TNR hairpin structure formation persisting in the genome resulting in expansion after subsequent cell division. Recent in vitro studies suggested that a family A translesion polymerase, polymerase θ (Polθ), was able to synthesize DNA larger than the template DNA. Clinical and in vivo studies showed either overexpression or knock down of Polθ caused poor survival in breast cancer patients and genomic instability. However, the role of Polθ in TNR expansion remains unelucidated. Therefore, we hypothesize that Polθ can directly cause TNR expansion during DNA synthesis. The investigation of the functional properties of Polθ during DNA replication and TNR synthesis will provide insight for the mechanism of TNR expansion through generations.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This dissertation was supported by NRSA Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants (T32: ES007266) and National Institute of Health (NIH) R01 (GM112702).