New Scholar Award in Aging
Phillip Carpenter, Ph.D.
University of Texas Medical School - Houston

Biochemical Characterization of a Putative p53-binding Protein from Xenopus

During the eukaryotic cell cycle, the genome is duplicated through the process of DNA replication and segregated to daughter cells during the process of mitosis. When the events that coordinate the cell cycle fail to properly operate, abnormal cellular conditions arise. Some of these conditions appear to be related to the biology of aging. For example, mutations in ATM, a gene known to be involved with the coordination of cell cycle events, causes Ataxia telangiectasia, a disease with numerous pathologies related to aging. Furthermore, defects in other cell cycle and/or related processes such as DNA replication and DNA repair, are suspected to be the major causes of progeroid syndromes such as Cockayne and Werner's syndrome. Therefore the study of cell cycle processes can greatly aid in our understanding of the molecular biology of aging.

We have previously designed a screen to isolate cDNA molecules that encode for important components of the cell cycle. Through the use of highly reliable biochemical assays, we can evaluate the roles that these gene products play in important cellular events, including DNA replication. One gene that we are currently evaluating is X535. The product of X535 appears to be a protein which can me modified by well known cell cycle kinases. Furthermore X535 contains "BRCT" motifs. These protein sequences were originally identified in the BRCA1 gene and appear to be involved with signaling events which control DNA repair processes. Because DNA repair is often compromised in various progeroid syndromes, X535 is a suitable candidate for studying cell cycle processes which impinge upon the aging process.

Contact Dr. Carpenter.