Recent Graduate: Cynthia Sakofsky, Ph.D., 2012

I have been a post-doc in the lab of Dr. Anna Malkova at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis since January 2012. Since joining Dr. Malkova's lab, I have become involved in several projects with a main focus of understanding genome instability. We work with yeast as a model organism to determine how a particular double strand break (DSB) repair pathway, break-induced replication (BIR,) can lead to extremely high rates of mutations and chromosomal rearrangements. BIR is unique among other DSB repair pathways in that it requires a replication fork-like mechanism to repair and is capable of copying hundreds of kilobases of DNA. Specifically, I am studying how mutations in particular replication proteins (PIF1 helicase, poloymerase zeta, polymerase epsilon etc.) affect the genetic outcomes of BIR repair and using this information to model pathways that can explain mechanisms leading to genome instability. Our lab utilizes fundamental microbial genetic techniques, but also works in close collaboration with another lab at Georgia Tech that has developed a powerful method, 'DNA combing', which provides a detailed visualization of DNA replication at the level of individual molecules. I am also working in close collaboration with a group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to determine the distribution of mutations and the chromosomal areas affected by BIR in the presence of DNA damage by using whole-genome sequencing.