Developing Models of the Mammalian Cell S Phase

  • Alexander Shaw

    Student thesis: Phd


    The accurate replication of the mammalian genome is a complex and logistically challenging process. The entirety of the genome must undergo a single duplication with as little error as possible. This must occur in a coordinated fashion and over suitably short time scale so as to allow timely cellular division within a cell cycle that is typically around 24 hours in a human cell. A great wealth of knowledge already exists describing various aspects of the S phase, during which this replication of the genome occurs. This data has been gathered over a variety of model systems, ranging from inferences from the replicative mechanics of SV40 through to direct observations of replication in mammalian cells.In order integrate this data and determine the value of inferences from different data sources, quantitative models of the mammalian cell S phase are required. This study documents the development of several such models and the exploration of the influences that experimentally determined parameters and different mechanistic theories can have on the behaviour of a simulated S phase. Of particular exploratory interest were the modes of activating replication of replicon clusters, with the aim of simulating experimentally observed dynamics. Additionally, the study also aimed to investigate the variation of replication fork rates and the density of origins of replication, along with the relationship that occurs between the two during both replicational stress and during a normal S phase. Through an iterative series of models, relevant parameters and key theories are sequentially explored so as to better understand the S phase. Particularly influential parameters were identified and studied in detail, with experimental determination where necessary in order to more accurately inform the model system. Conclusions concerning the behaviour of the system and the potential impact of the results were drawn upon the completion of each level of modelling and experimental work.To conclude the study, a linear model simulating the genome of the MRC5 cell line was used to estimate the modes activation of DNA replication along chromosomes in order to recreate experimentally observed replication dynamics. Experimentally determined profiles of replication fork rates and the density of origin firing were also determined for the MRC5 cell line, and were used to populate the model with accurate and appropriate data. Using the model to simulate S phase through a variety of behavioural parameters, realistic S phase dynamics were found to occur through a combination of de novo activation of replicon clusters and a specific probability of neighbour activation by completed clusters. These derived mechanics, when performed on a system correctly parameterised with suitable data, can simulate experimentally observed phenomena. The development of the model highlighted the requirements of data fit for purpose, and the study also stresses the need for critical consideration of inferences made between different model systems.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorDean Jackson (Supervisor) & Gerold Baier (Supervisor)


    • Nuclear Structure
    • Mammalian cells
    • Modelling
    • DNA Replication

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