Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0003-3149-013X

Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Chemistry

First Advisor

Ivaylo Ivanov

Second Advisor

Donald Hamelberg

Third Advisor

Kathryn B. Grant

Abstract

High fidelity maintenance of the genome is imperative to ensuring stability and proliferation of cells. The genetic material (DNA) of a cell faces a constant barrage of metabolic and environmental assaults throughout the its lifetime, ultimately leading to DNA damage. Left unchecked, DNA damage can result in genomic instability, inviting a cascade of mutations that initiate cancer and other aging disorders. Thus, a large area of focus has been dedicated to understanding how DNA is damaged, repaired, expressed and replicated. At the heart of these processes lie complex macromolecular dynamics coupled with intricate protein-DNA interactions. Through advanced computational techniques it has become possible to probe these mechanisms at the atomic level, providing a physical basis to describe biomolecular phenomena. To this end, we have performed studies aimed at elucidating the dynamics and interactions intrinsic to the functionality of biomolecules critical to maintaining genomic integrity: modeling the DNA editing mechanism of DNA polymerase III, uncovering the DNA damage recognition/repair mechanism of thymine DNA glycosylase and linking genetic disease to the functional dynamics of the pre-initiation complex transcription machinery. Collectively, our results elucidate the dynamic interplay between proteins and DNA, further broadening our understanding of these complex processes involved with genomic maintenance.

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