Date of Graduation

5-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Chemical Engineering

Advisor

Hestekin, Christa N.

Abstract

DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism used for long - term silencing of gene expression. This silencing of gene expression can be involved in the down regulation of genes involved in apoptosis, which is a process of regulated cell death, and this inability to break down cells can ultimately lead to tumor formation in cancer. Methylation of DNA follows a certain pattern through developmental stages of an individual, and this pattern is normally maintained throughout that individual's life. However, in the DNA of older individuals, this methylation is commonly seen to be altered. This altered pattern of methylation can be important in initiating tumorigenesis and sustaining the malignant state of cancer cells9. The potential reversibility of DNA methylation patterns suggests a very viable target for the treatment of cancer. This study examines the effectiveness of an alternate method of detection of these altered DNA methylation patterns through microchannel electrophoresis. This method detects DNA methylation by using the increased hydrophobicity of methylated DNA to allow it to be separated from non - methylated DNA in capillary electrophoresis (CE). This separation is accomplished by using a hydrophobic copolymer as a separation medium in CE. The hydrophobic interactions that result between the copolymer and methylated DNA can lead to a slower elution time of the DNA through the capillaries during CE. This slower elution time of methylated DNA can allow it to be distinguished from non-methylated DNA; therefore, resulting in the effective detection of this alteration. In this project, copolymers of varying degrees of hydrophobicity are tested to determine the potential of this method to provide effective detection of DNA methylation.

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