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Walter Barry

Class 2011
Education BS, Tufts University

Dr. Alan Meeker

Research Interests

I study a mechanism of survival that 10% of cancers use. These cells are trying to evade death by telomere shortening. After every cell cycle the telomeres (specific repeat units of DNA at the ends of linear chromosomes) will shorten. Eventually the telomeres erode completely and senescence or death ensues. These cells instead of waiting to die have developed a non classical means of telomere lengthening besides the use of the enzyme telomerase. Instead of having this enzyme adding new DNA repeats to the ends of chromosomes they use homologous recombination and copy new telomeric sequences from probably any available telomere sequence in the cell. This is called alternative lengthening of telomeres. I study a protein call PML that is believed to have an important function in this process. I am investigating if this is in fact true and salient to developing cures for cancers running this cancer specific mechanism.