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Alyssa Rodriguez

Department: Biological Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Brandt Eichman, Ph.D.

Dissertation Description: Structural Analysis of DNA Repair Protein, NEIL3

DNA damage can cause lasting effects on genome stability if not properly corrected. Factors such as UV-light, environmental chemicals, and oxidative stress can cause DNA damage in the form of abasic sites leading to single and double stranded breaks. One specific type of damage, DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs), creates a covalent bridge between the nitrogenous bases of duplex DNA that blocks transcription and replication as the DNA strands cannot be physically separated. However, the base excision repair pathway utilizes glycosylase enzymes to first recognize and cleave the modified base. DNA repair protein endonuclease VIII-like 3 (NEIL3) glycosylase was recently shown to unhook ICLs but very little is known about the unhooking mechanism. The goal of the study is to determine the structure of NEIL3 bound to ICL-DNA via x-ray crystallography. The structural information will provide insight into the function of NEIL3 leading to potential impacts on new chemotherapeutics.