Patricia L Opresko

  • Professor
  • Faculty in Environmental and Occupational Health, Pharmacology and Chemical Biology
  • Co-Leader, Genome Stability Program at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

My lab studies DNA damage and repair at telomeres. Telomeres are the caps at chromosome ends that are essential for preserving the genome. When chromosomes lose their telomere caps the cells age and this contributes to the onset of degenerative diseases with aging. If chromosomes lose their telomere caps in pre-cancerous cells then this causes genetic alterations that hasten the progression to cancer. Understanding how telomere damage and repair happens should lead to new intervention strategies aimed at preserving these regions of the genome that are so critical for protecting our chromosomes and maintaining youthful cells.


1994 | DeSales University, Center Valley, PA | Bachelors of Science in Chemistry and Biology
2000 | Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA | PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


I co-direct the following courses:

EOH 3305 Genome Instability and Human Disease will be taught again in Spring of 2022

I also lecture in EPIDEM 2980 Biology and Physiology of Aging, EOH 2310 Molecular Fundamental, EOH 2175 General Toxicology, EOH 3210 Pathophysiology and Environmental Disease, and HUGEN 2031 Introduction to Human Genetics

Selected Publications

6.    Barnes, R.P., de Rosa, M., Thosar, S.A., Detwiler, A., Roginskaya, V., Van Houten, B., Bruchez, M.P., Stewart-Ornstein, J., Opresko, P.L. Telomeric 8-oxoguanine drives rapid premature senescence in the absence of telomere shortening, bioRxiv, 2021. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, in press.

Sanford, S., Welfer, G., Freudenthal, B., and Opresko, P.L. Mechanisms of telomerase inhibition by oxidized and therapeutic dNTPs. Nature Communications, 2020 Oct 20; 11(1):5288. PMID: 33082336, PMCID: PMC7576608.

Fouquerel, E., Barnes, R.P., Uttam, S., Watkins, S.C., Bruchez, M.P., and Opresko, P.L. Targeted and persistent 8-oxoguanine base damage at telomeres promotes telomere loss and crisis.  Molecular Cell,  2019 Jul 11;75(1):117-130.e6. Epub 2019 May 14. PMID: 31101499; PMCID: PMC6625854.

Qian, W., Kumar, N., Roginskaya, V., Fouquerel, E., Opresko, P.L., Shiva, S., Watkins, S.C., Kolodieznyi, D., Bruchez, M.P., and Van Houten, B. Chemoptogenetic damage to mitochondria causes rapid telomere dysfunction. PNAS, 2019. Sep 10; 116(37):18435-18444. PMID: 31451640; PMCID: PMC6744920. 

Fouquerel, E., Lormand, J.*, Bose, A.*, Lee, H.-T., Kim, G.S., Li, J., Sobol, R.W., Freudenthal, B.D., Myong, S., and Opresko, P.L. Oxidative guanine base damage regulates human telomerase activity. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 2016. 23: 1092-1100. PMID 27820808. PMCID: PMC5140714. 

Garcia-Exposito, L*., Bournique, E.*, Bergoglio, V.*, Bose, A., Barroso-Gonzalez, J.-B., Zhang, S., Roncaioli, J.L., Lee, M.Y., Wallace, C.T., Watkins, S.C., Opresko, P.L., Hoffmann, J.-S., and O’Sullivan, R.J. Proteomic profiling reveals a specific role for translesion DNA polymerase eta in the alternative lengthening of telomeres.  Cell Reports, 2016. 17: 1858-1871. PMID 27829156. * these authors contributed equally.

Parikh, D., Fouquerel, E., Murphy, C.T., Wang, H., and Opresko, P.L. Telomeres are partly shielded from ultraviolet-induced damage and proficient for nucleotide excision repair of photoproduct. Nature Communications, 2015. 6:8214. PMID:26351258; PMCID:PMC4566151.