Bioparticles comprise a diverse amount of materials ubiquitously present in nature. From proteins to aerosolized biological debris, bioparticles have important roles spanning from regulating cellular functions to possibly influencing global climate. Understanding their structures, functions, and properties provides the necessary tools to expand our fundamental knowledge of biological systems and exploit them for useful applications. In order to contribute to this efforts, the work presented in this dissertation focuses on the study of electrokinetic properties of liposomes and novel applications of bioaerosol analysis. Using immobilized lipid vesicles under the influence of modest (less than 100 V/cm) electric fields, a novel strategy for bionanotubule fabrication with superior throughput and simplicity was developed. Fluorescence and bright field microscopy was used to describe the formation of these bilayer-bound cylindrical structures, which have been previously identified in nature (playing crucial roles in intercellular communication) and made synthetically by direct mechanical manipulation of membranes. In the biological context, the results of this work suggest that mechanical electrostatic interaction may play a role in the shape and function of individual biological membranes and networks of membrane-bound structures. A second project involving liposomes focused on membrane potential measurements in vesicles containing trans-membrane pH gradients. These types of gradients consist of differential charge states in the lipid bilayer leaflets, which have been shown to greatly influence the efficacy of drug targeting and the treatment of diseases such as cancer. Here, these systems are qualitatively and quantitatively assessed by using voltage-sensitive membrane dyes and fluorescence spectroscopy. Bioaerosol studies involved exploring the feasibility of a fingerprinting technology based on current understanding of cellular debris in aerosols and arguments regarding sampling, sensitivity, separations and detection schemes of these debris. Aerosolized particles of cellular material and proteins emitted by humans, animals and plants can be considered information-rich packets that carry biochemical information specific to the living organisms present in the collection settings. These materials could potentially be exploited for identification purposes. Preliminary studies evaluated protein concentration trends in both indoor and outdoor locations. Results indicated that concentrations correlate to certain conditions of the collection environment (e.g. extent of human presence), supporting the idea that bioaerosol fingerprinting is possible.
- Exploiting bioparticles: from new properties of liposomes to novel applications of bioaerosol analysis
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by Josemar Andreina Castillo Gutiérrez