Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Lei Li

Committee Member

Randy J. Legerski

Committee Member

Pierre D. McCrea

Committee Member

Peng Huang

Committee Member

M. James You


Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare recessive genetic disease with an array of clinical manifestations including multiple congenital abnormalities, progressive bone marrow failure and profound cancer susceptibility. A hallmark of cells derived from FA patients is hypersensitivity to DNA interstrand crosslinking agents such as mitomycin C (MMC) and cisplatin, suggesting that FA- and FA-associated proteins play important roles in protecting cells from DNA interstrand crosslink (ICL) damage. Two genes involved in the FA pathway, FANCM and FAAP24, are of particular interest because they contain DNA interacting domains. However, there are no definitive patient mutations for these two genes, and the resulting lack of human genetic model system renders their functional studies difficult.

In this study, I established isogenic human FANCM- and FAAP24-null mutants through homologous replacement-mediated gene targeting in HCT-116 cells, and systematically investigated the functions of FANCM and FAAP24 inchromosome stability, FA pathway activation, DNA damage checkpoint signaling, and ICL repair. I found that the FANCM-/-/FAAP24-/- double mutant was much more sensitive to DNA crosslinking agents than FANCM-/- and FAAP24-/- single mutants, suggesting that FANCM and FAAP24 possess epistatic as well as unique functions in response to ICL damage. I demonstrated that FANCM and FAAP24 coordinately support the activation of FA pathway by promoting chromatin localization of FA core complex and FANCD2 monoubiqutination. They also cooperatively function to suppress sister chromatid exchange and radial chromosome formation, likely by limiting crossovers in recombination repair. In addition, I defined novel non-overlapping functions of FANCM and FAAP24 in response to ICL damage. FAAP24 plays a major role in activating ICL-induced ATR-dependent checkpoint, which is independent of its interaction with FANCM. On the other hand, FANCM promotes recombination-independent ICL repair independently of FAAP24. Mechanistically, FANCM facilitates recruitment of nucleotide excision repair machinery and lesion bypass factors to ICL damage sites through its translocase activity. Collectively, my studies provide mechanistic insights into how genome integrity is both coordinately and independently protected by FANCM and FAAP24.


Fanconi anemia, DNA damage, DNA repair, interstrand crosslink, somatic knockout