Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Biological Sciences

Content Description

1 online resource (xviii, 176 pages) : color illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Morgan Sammons

Committee Members

Prashanth Rangan, Gabriel Fuchs, Thomas Begley


p53 antioncogene, Gene regulatory networks, Transcription factors, Gene expression

Subject Categories

Molecular Biology


After fertilization in vertebrates, cells work to build organs, tissues and begin to rapidly differentiate and proliferate. This process is the orchestration of finely tuned signals and perfectly timed gene expression patterns. The first step in gene expression, transcription, is governed by proteins known as transcription factors (TF). TFs are responsible for binding to DNA, altering chromatin structure, and driving activation of other genes based on the organism’s needs. Once the process of development is complete, organisms shift their resources to maintaining homeostasis. Humans regularly encounter outside stressors such as UV radiation, pollution, allergens, and drugs. Cells also accumulate mutations as they travel through cell cycle. The doubling of cell volume and replication of DNA allows for potential errors. These insults and natural occurrences lead to a wide variety of molecular damage and the tumor suppressor protein, p53, is the central hub of the organism’s core defenses against these insults.