Image of Dr. Paula M. Checchi

Contact Information

Academic School

School of Science

Office

Allied Health 315

Email

paula.checchi@marist.edu

Phone

(845) 575-3000, ext. 6103

Dr. Paula M. Checchi

Associate Professor of Biology

Bio

Since joining the Biology Department at Marist College, the primary objective of my studies has been to use genetic tools to define the contributions of higher-order chromatin structure in coordinating timely and accurate repair of DNA damage. The long-term goal of my scholarly work is to identify the underlying regulatory mechanisms that control chromatin dynamics and, in doing so, prevent mutations and structural perturbations of chromosomes that would otherwise be transmitted to offspring. Using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, my research laboratory has found that the ATPase protein Mi2 maintains genomic integrity through reinforcement of a chromatin landscape suitable for homology-driven repair mechanisms. Through collaborative efforts with the Andrews laboratory, we have since discovered that Mi2 responds to DNA damage in multiple contexts to ensure genetic stability in both worms and mammals.  Our expectation is that this work will generate critical insight into the causes of infertility, pregnancy loss, and congenital disease. Likewise, our studies will increase our overall understanding of how chromatin remodeling limits the accumulation of genotoxic stress, a process directly relevant to multiple developmental contexts and human disease states such as carcinogenesis.

Education

PhD, Biology, Emory University
BS, Biology, University of Massachusetts


Research Interests / Areas of Focus

Genetics, meiosis, DNA repair, cancer


Selected Publications

* denotes undergraduate co-author

Li, Q., Saito, T.T., Deshong, A.J. Garcia, M.M., Nadarajan S., Lawrence, K.S. Checchi, P.M., P. Colaiacovo, M.P. and Engebrecht, J. The tumor suppressor BRCA1/BARD1 complex localizes to the synaptonemal complex and regulates recombination under meiotic dysfunction in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS Genetics. In Press.

*Turcotte, C.A., *Sloat, S.A., *Rigothi, J.A, *Rosenkranse, E., *Northrup, A., Andrews, N.P., and Checchi, P.M.  (2018). Maintenance of genome integrity by Mi2 homologs CHD-3 and LET-418 in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics. 208:1-17.  

*Turcotte, C.A., Andrews, N.P., *Sloat, S.A., and Checchi, P.M. (2016) CRISPR Technology Reveals RAD(51)-ical Repair Interactions in Roundworms. Genetics. 204: 883-891.

Checchi P.M., Lawrence, K.L., *Van, M.V., Larson, B.J. and Engebrecht, J.  (2014) Pseudosynapsis and decreased stringency of meiotic repair pathway choice on the hemizygous sex chromosome of Caenorhabditis elegans males. Genetics.197(2):543-560.

Checchi P.M. and Engebrecht, J. (2011) Heteromorphic Sex Chromosomes: Navigating Meiosis without a Homologous Partner. Molecular Repro and Dev. 78:623-632.

Checchi P.M. and Engebrecht, J. (2011) Caenorhabditis. elegans Histone Methyltransferase MET-2 Shields the Male X Chromosome from Checkpoint Machinery and Mediates Meiotic Sex Chromosome Inactivation. PLoS Genetics. 7: e1002267

Furuhashi, H., Phippen, T., Rechtsteiner, A., Li, T., Kimura, H., Strome, S., Checchi, P.M., and Kelly, W.G.  (2010) Trans-generational epigenetic regulation of C. elegans primordial germ cells. Epigenetics & Chromatin. 3:15.                       

Checchi P.M. and Kelly, W.G. (2006) emb-4 is a Conserved Gene Required for Efficient Germline-Specific Chromatin Remodeling during Caenorhabiditis elegans Embryogenesis. Genetics. 174, 1895-1906. Selected as a Featured Article in “Issue Highlights”

Checchi, P.M., Nettles, J.H., Zhou, J., Snyder, J.P., and Joshi, H.C. (2003) Microtubule-interacting Drugs for Cancer Treatment. Trends Pharmacol. Sci. 24, 361-365.


Selected Presentations

Paula Checchi, *Carolyn Turcotte, *Erika Rosenkranse, *Aidan Nowakowski, Alexa Peruffo, and Nicolas Andrews. Maintenance of genome integrity by Mi2. Principles of Chromosome Structure and Function, EMBL/EMBO Symposium, 2018. Heidelberg, Germany. (Oral and Poster Presentation).

*Carolyn Turcotte, *Erika Rosenkranse, Nicolas Andrews and Paula Checchi. Maintenance of genome integrity by Mi2. C. elegans Development, Cell Biology, and Gene Expression Meeting. Barcelona, Spain. (Oral Presentation).

*Carolyn Turcotte, *Solomon Sloat, *Julia Rigothi *Erika Rosenkranse, Nicolas Andrews and Paula M. Checchi.  Mi2 homologs CHD-3 and LET-418 maintain germline integrity and promote gamete quality in Caenorhabditis elegans. 2018 EMBO Meiosis Meeting. Hvar, Croatia.  (Poster Presentation.)

*Carolyn Turcotte, *Solomon Sloat, *Erika Rosenkranse, *Julia Rigothi, Nicolas Andrews and Paula Checchi.  Mi2 paralogs CHD-3 and LET-418 promote gamete quality in the C. elegans germ line.

21st Biennial International C. elegans Conference, 2017. University of California, Los Angeles. (Poster Presentation.)

*Erika Rosenkranse, *Solomon Sloat, *Julia Rigothi, *Carolyn Turcotte, *Emily Leonard, Nicolas Andrews and Paula Checchi. NuRD chromatin remodelers attenuate meiotic checkpoint signaling in Caenorhabditis elegans. 21st Biennial International C. elegans Conference, 2017. University of California, Los Angeles (Poster Presentation.)


Awards and Honors

EMBL/EMBO Symposia Fellowship Recipient, 2018

Marist College 2017 Faculty Recognition Award

NIH R15 Academic Enhancement Research Award. 2016-present

New England BioLabs Educational Course Support Award, 2015 & 2018

Marist College VPAA Summer Research Grant Recipient, 2014 & 2015

NIH Contraception and Infertility Loan Repayment Program (LRP) Award, 2011-2013      

NIH Oncogenic Signals and Chromosome Biology T32 Training Grant (NIH-1 T32 CA10849), 2010-2012

Class of 1941 Honors Humanitarian Award, 2002