Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Biology and Biomedical Sciences: Computational and Systems Biology


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Timothy Graubert


Therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia t-AML is a secondary, generally incurable, malignancy attributable to the chemotherapeutic treatment of an initial disease. Although there is a genetic component to susceptibility to therapy-related leukemias in mice, little is understood either about the contributing loci, or the mechanisms by which susceptibility factors mediate their effect. An improved understanding of susceptibility factors and the biological processes in which they act may lead to the development of t-AML prevention strategies. In this thesis work, we identified expression networks that are associated with t-AML susceptibility in mice. These networks are robust in that they emerge from distinct methods of analysis and from different gene expression data sets of hematopoietic stem and progenitor lineages. These networks are enriched in genes involved in cell cycle and DNA repair, suggesting that these processes play a role in susceptibility. By integrating gene expression and genetic information we prioritized network nodes for experimental validation as contributors to expression networks and t-AML susceptibility. Network analysis and node prioritization required a comprehensive map of genetic variation in mouse, which was not available at the outset of this thesis work. Specifically, DNA copy number variations: CNVs), defined as genomic sequences that are polymorphic in copy number and range in length from 1,000 to several million base pairs, were largely uncharacterized in inbred mice. We developed a computational approach, Washington University Hidden Markov Model: wuHMM), to identify CNVs from high-density array comparative genomic hybridization data, accounting for the high degree of polymorphism that occur between mouse strains. Using wuHMM we analyzed the copy number content of the mouse genome: 20 strains) to a sub-10-kb resolution, finding over 1,300 CNV-regions: CNVRs), most of which are < 10 kb in length, are found in more than one strain, and span 3.2%: 85 Mb) of the reference genome. These CNVRs, along with haplotype blocks we derived from publicly available SNP data, were integrated into susceptibility expression network analysis. In addition to addressing questions regarding t-MDS/AML susceptibility, we also used this data to assess the potential functional impact of copy number variation by mapping expression profiles to CNVRs. In hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, up to 28% of strain-dependent expression variation is associated with copy number variation, supporting the role of germline CNVs as key contributors to natural phenotypic variation.


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