Purdue University Graduate School
Clarifying the Role of the CST Complex in DNA Replication and Repair.pdf (3.74 MB)

Clarifying the Role of the CST Complex in DNA Replication and Repair

Download (3.74 MB)
posted on 2021-12-20, 16:36 authored by Brandon Carter WysongBrandon Carter Wysong

Ends of linear chromosomes are maintained by specialized structures known as telomeres. These structures are protected by a number of essential protein complexes including the shelterin complex and CST (CTC1 – STN1 – TEN1) complex. CST is an RPA-like ssDNA binding protein that is vital for telomere length maintenance via inhibition of telomerase and stimulation of DNA polymerase α -primase during C-strand fill-in synthesis. CST is also known to possess additional genome-wide roles in regulating DNA replication and repair including helping facilitate replication re-start at stalled forks, activating checkpoint signaling at double-strand breaks, and promoting replication origin firing. Proper and efficient repair of DNA is critical in order to protect the integrity of the genome and prevent extreme mutagenesis. Telomeres have a strong predisposition to oxidative DNA damage in the form of 8-oxoguanine caused by exposure to reactive oxygen species and free radicals. These oxidative lesions are repaired by the base-excision repair (BER) pathway. Previous work has implicated telomeric proteins such as the shelterin complex in mediating BER. Here we show for the first time that the CST complex and individual subunits robustly stimulate a myriad of proteins involved in the BER pathway including Pol β, APE1, FEN1, and LIGI. CST’s ability to augment these BER-associated proteins could be instrumental in promoting efficient DNA repair. Additionally, we find that CTC1 and STN1 are able to significantly enhance the polymerase activity of Pol δ and Pol α on both random-sequence and telomeric-sequence DNA substrates in vitro. What is more, we establish the ability of CST to resolve G4 structure and promote Pol δ synthesis, which we predict is a key feature of CST’s involvement in DNA replication at telomeres, which are known to form replication-inhibiting G4’s. Our results define important mechanistic insight into CST’s role in DNA replication and repair, and provide a strong foundation for future studies relating defective telomere maintenance to aging disorders and cancers which impact human health.


IUPUI University Fellowship

National Science Foundation

American Cancer Society


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Biological Sciences

Campus location

  • Indianapolis

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Lata Balakrishnan

Additional Committee Member 2

James A. Marrs

Additional Committee Member 3

Benjamin J. Perrin