HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

David Kerstetter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jean Latimer, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Bernard Riegl, Ph.D.


Although DNA repair capacity has been correlated with lifespan in terrestrial vertebrate species, it remains unknown how evolutionarily conserved the process is across all vertebrate taxa. In particular, chondrichthyan fishes have lifespans that range from 3-350 years and they are evolutionarily separated from modern humans Homo sapiens by approximately 400 million years. We hypothesized that chondrichthyan fishes would show significant homology in nuclear excision repair (NER) genes with humans, and that the expression of NER genes will correlate with the lifespan of the respective assessed species. For this study, DNA repair gene homology and expression was performed on the nurse shark Ginglymostoma cirratum (n=3) and yellow stingray Urobatis jamaicensis (n=3). The five main NER pathways were analyzed and compared to see the differences in both elasmobranch species, then compared with human foreskin fibroblast samples (n=3). RNA sequencing was used to determine the extent of gene expression in each species, comparing the read counts in each gene and comparing between the two species. The elephant shark Callorhinchus milii reference genome was used to align the nurse shark and yellow stingray samples. Homology of each gene of the NER pathways was assessed by the NCBI BLAST software. Results show that the MMR pathway has all the significant genes in higher frequencies in the nurse shark than in human. Within elasmobranchs in the five DNA repair pathways, the longer-lived species (nurse shark) has a significant higher gene expression than shorter-lived species (yellow stingray). Genes involved in the NER and BER pathways showed significantly lower expression in elasmobranch than in humans. However, there were significantly higher expression of more genes for the HR and MMR pathways in elasmobranchs than in humans.

Files over 10MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "Save as..."

Share Feedback