Matching Items (47)

Filtering by

Clear all filters

132751-Thumbnail Image.png

Synthesis and Characterization of LD2 Peptide Analogs to Inhibit Focal Adhesion Kinase in Cancer

Description

In cancer, various genetic and epigenetic alterations cause cancer cells to hyperproliferate and to bypass the survival and migration mechanisms that typically regulate healthy cells. The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) gene produces FAK, a protein that has been implicated in

In cancer, various genetic and epigenetic alterations cause cancer cells to hyperproliferate and to bypass the survival and migration mechanisms that typically regulate healthy cells. The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) gene produces FAK, a protein that has been implicated in tumor progression in various cancers. Compared with normal tissue counterparts, FAK is overexpressed in many cancers. FAK is therefore a promising cancer drug target due to its demonstrated role in cancer invasion and metastasis and inhibition of FAK is important to achieve an optimal tumor response. Small molecule FAK inhibitors have been shown to decrease tumor growth and metastasis in several preclinical trials. However, these inhibitors focus narrowly on the enzymatic portion of FAK and neglect its scaffolding function, leaving FAK’s scaffolding of oncogenic drivers intact. Paxillin, a major focal adhesion-associated protein, binds to FAK, enabling it to localize to focal adhesions, and this is essential for FAK’s activation and function. Therefore, disrupting the protein-protein interaction between FAK and paxillin has been hypothesized to prevent tumor progression. The binding of FAK to paxillin at its focal adhesion targeting (FAT) domain is mediated by two highly conserved leucine-rich sequences, the leucine-aspartic acid (LD) motifs LD2 and LD4. The purpose of this project was to develop novel stapled LD2 peptide analogs that target the protein-protein interaction of FAT to LD2. Peptide stapling was performed to enhance the pharmacological performance of the LD2 peptide analogs. Based on the native LD2 peptide sequence, stapled LD2 peptide analogs were developed with the intent to improve efficacy of cell permeability, while maintaining or improving FAK binding. The LD2 peptide analogs were characterized via surface plasmon resonance, fluorescence polarization, immunofluorescence, and circular dichroism spectroscopy. Successful LD2 stapled peptide analogs can be therapeutically relevant inhibitors of the FAT-LD2 protein-protein interaction in cancer and have the potential for greater efficacy in FAK inhibition, proteolytic resistance, and cell permeability, which is key in preventing tumor progression in cancer.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2019-05

132487-Thumbnail Image.png

Production and functional testing of a recombinant fusion protein immunotherapy for glioblastoma

Description

Fusion protein immunotherapies such as the bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) have displayed promising potential as cancer treatments capable of engaging the immune system against tumor cells. It has been shown that chlorotoxin, a 36-amino peptide found in the venom

Fusion protein immunotherapies such as the bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) have displayed promising potential as cancer treatments capable of engaging the immune system against tumor cells. It has been shown that chlorotoxin, a 36-amino peptide found in the venom of the deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus), binds specifically to glioblastoma (GBM) cells without binding healthy tissue, making it an ideal GBM cell binding moiety for a BiTE-like molecule. However, chlorotoxin’s four disulfide bonds pose a folding challenge outside of its natural context and impede production of the recombinant protein in various expression systems, including those relying on bacteria and plants. To overcome this difficulty, we have engineered a truncated chlorotoxin variant (Cltx∆15) that contains just two of the original eight cystine residues, thereby capable of forming only a single disulfide bond while maintaining its ability to bind GBM cells. We further created a BiTE (ACDClx∆15) which tethers Cltx∆15 to a single chain ⍺-CD3 antibody in order to bring T cells into contact with GBM cells. The gene for ACDClx∆15 was cloned into a pET-11a vector for expression in Escherichia coli and isolated from inclusion bodies before purification via affinity chromatography. Immunoblot analyses confirmed that ACDClx∆15 can be expressed in E. coli and purified with high yield and purity; moreover, flow cytometry indicated that ACDClx∆15 is capable of binding GBM cells. These data warrant further investigation into the ability of ACDClx∆15 to activate T cells against GBM cells.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2019-05

132490-Thumbnail Image.png

Codon Optimization of Human TRAIL Gene for Maximal Expression in a Self-Destructing Salmonella Strain for Efficient Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Description

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer that affects both men and women and the second leading cause of death in cancer related deaths[1, 2]. The most common form of treatment is chemotherapy followed by radiation, which

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer that affects both men and women and the second leading cause of death in cancer related deaths[1, 2]. The most common form of treatment is chemotherapy followed by radiation, which is insufficient to cure stage four cancers[3]. Salmonella enteric has long been shown to have inherent tumor targeting properties and have been able to penetrate and exist in all aspects of the tumor environment, something that chemotherapy is unable to achieve. This lab has developed a genetically modified Salmonella typhimurium (GMS) which is able to deliver DNA vaccines or synthesized proteins directly to tumor sites. These GMS strains have been used to deliver human TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) protein directly to tumor sites, but expression level was limited. It is the hope of the experiment that codon optimization of TRAIL to S. typhimurium preferred codons will lead to increased TRAIL expression in the GMS. For preliminary studies, BALB/c mice were subcutaneously challenged with CT-26 murine colorectal cancer cells and treated with an intra-tumor injection with either PBS, strain GMS + PCMV FasL (P2), or strain GMS + Pmus FasL). APC/CDX2 mutant mice were also induced to develop human colon polyps and treated with either PBS, strain GMS + vector (P1), P2, or P3. The BALB/c mouse showed statistically significant levels of decreased tumor size in groups treated with P2 or P3. The APC/CDX2 mouse study showed statistically significant levels of decreased colon polyp numbers in groups treated with P3, as expected, but was not significantly significant for groups treated with P1 and P2. In addition, TRAIL was codon optimized for robust synthesis in Salmonella. The construct will be characterized and evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Hopefully, the therapeutic effect of codon optimized TRAIL will be maximal while almost completely minimizing any unintended side effects.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2019-05

132442-Thumbnail Image.png

Cloning and expression of antigen-specific T cell receptors

Description

Cancer poses a significant burden on the global health system and represents a leading cause of death worldwide. For late-stage cancers, the traditional treatments of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are not always viable, and they can pose unnecessary health risks

Cancer poses a significant burden on the global health system and represents a leading cause of death worldwide. For late-stage cancers, the traditional treatments of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are not always viable, and they can pose unnecessary health risks to the patients. New immunotherapies, such as adoptive cell transfer, are being developed and refined to treat such cancers. T cell immunotherapies in particular, where a patient’s T cell lymphocytes are isolated and amplified to be re-infused into the patient or where human cell lines are engineered to express T cell receptors for the recognition of common cancer antigens, are being expanded on because for some cancers, they could be the only option. Constructing an optimal pipeline for cloning and expression of antigen-specific TCRs has significant bearing on the efficacy of engineered cell lines for ACT. Adoptive T cell transfer, while making great strides, has to overcome a diverse T cell repertoire – cloning and expressing antigen-specific TCRs can mediate this understanding. Having identified the high frequency FluM1-specific TCR sequences in stimulated donor PBMCs, it was hypothesized that the antigen-specific TCR could be reconstructed via Gateway cloning methods and tested for expression and functionality. Establishing this pipeline would confirm an ability to properly pair and express the heterodimeric chains. In the context of downstream applications, neoantigens would be used to stimulate T cells, the α and β chains would be paired via single-cell or bulk methods, and instead of Gateway cloning, the CDR3 hypervariable regions α and β chains alone would be co-expressed using Golden Gate assembly methods.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2019-05

132678-Thumbnail Image.png

DNA Origami as Novel Immune Adjuvants

Description

Cytokines induced by inflammasome has been used for blood cancer treatments, yet these treatments have been less successful in the solid tumor microenvironment. Here precise-morphology DNA origami structures were implemented to accurately test the effect and mechanism of activation in

Cytokines induced by inflammasome has been used for blood cancer treatments, yet these treatments have been less successful in the solid tumor microenvironment. Here precise-morphology DNA origami structures were implemented to accurately test the effect and mechanism of activation in the NLRP3 inflammasome. THP1 WT cells, a macrophage cell line, were treated with eleven different DNA origami structures. The inflammasome activation of two cytokines, Interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) and Interferon beta (IFN-β), was measured using HEK Blue IL-1β cells, HEK Blue IFN-β cells, and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Differences in activation signaling have the potential to provide the characterization required to address the intrinsic complexity of modulating an immune response. It is hoped that DNA origami will help induce more inflammation for solid tumors. The DNA origami was tested in three different volumes: 1 μL, 5 μL, and 10 μL. Overall, the origami that showed promising results were Mg Square. Tetrahedral and P53 block also showed potential but not as well as Mg square. Further testing of more DNA origami structures and testing them in mice are key to the success of targeted cancer immunotherapies in the neoadjuvant setting.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2019-05

133149-Thumbnail Image.png

The Genomics of Cancer Resistance in Long-Lived Vesper Bats

Description

Bats (order Chiroptera) are the longest lived mammals for their size, with particularly extreme longevity evolving in the family Vespertilionidae, or vesper bats. Because of this, researchers have proposed using bats to study ageing and cancer suppression. Here, we study

Bats (order Chiroptera) are the longest lived mammals for their size, with particularly extreme longevity evolving in the family Vespertilionidae, or vesper bats. Because of this, researchers have proposed using bats to study ageing and cancer suppression. Here, we study gene duplications across mammalian genomes and show that, similar to previous findings in elephants, bats have experienced duplications of the tumor suppressor gene TP53, including five genomic copies in the genome of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and two copies in Brandt's bat (Myotis brandtii). These species can live 37 and 41 years, respectively, despite having an adult body mass of only ~7 grams. We use evolutionary genetics and next generation sequencing approaches to show that positive selection has acted on the TP53 locus across bats, and two recently duplicated TP53 gene copies in the little brown bat are both highly conserved and expressed, suggesting they are functional. We also report an extraordinary genomic copy number expansion of the tumor suppressor gene FBXO31 in the common ancestor of vesper bats which accelerated in the Myotis lineage, leading to 34\u201457 copies and the expression of 20 functional FBXO31 homologs in Brandt's bat. As FBXO31 directs the degradation of MDM2, which is a negative regulator of TP53, we suggest that increased expression of both FBXO31 and TP53 may be related to an enhanced DNA-damage response to genotoxic stress brought on by long lifespans and rapid metabolic rates in bats.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2018-12

133470-Thumbnail Image.png

Characterizing p53REs in the Human Hairless Gene Promoter and 5' Untranslated Region

Description

The human hairless gene (HR) encodes a 130 kDa transcription factor that is primarily expressed in the brain and skin. In the promoter and 5'-untranslated regions (5'-UTR) of HR, there are three putative consensus p53 responsive elements (p53RE). p53 is

The human hairless gene (HR) encodes a 130 kDa transcription factor that is primarily expressed in the brain and skin. In the promoter and 5'-untranslated regions (5'-UTR) of HR, there are three putative consensus p53 responsive elements (p53RE). p53 is a tumor suppressor protein that regulates cell proliferation, apoptosis, and other cell functions. The p53 protein, a known tumor suppressor, acts as a transcription factor and binds to DNA p53REs to activate or repress transcription of the target gene. In general, the p53 binding sequence is 5'-RRRCWWGYYY-3' where W is A or T, and R and Y are purines or pyrimidines, respectively. However, even if the p53 binding sequence does not match the consensus sequence, p53 protein might still be able to bind to the response element. The intent of this investigation was to identify and characterize the p53REs in the promoter and 5'-UTR of HR. If the three p53REs (p53RE1, p53RE2, and p53RE3) are functional, then p53 can bind there and might regulate HR gene expression. The first aim for this thesis was to clone the putative p53REs into a luciferase reporter and to characterize the transcription of these p53REs in glioblastoma (U87 MG) and human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cell lines. Through the transactivation assay, it was discovered that p53REs 2 and 3 were functional in HEK293, but none of the response elements were functional in U87 MG. Since p53 displayed a different regulatory capacity of HR expression in HEK293 and U87 MG cells, the second aim was to verify whether the p53REs are mutated in GBM U87 MG cells by genomic DNA sequencing.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2018-05

133473-Thumbnail Image.png

The Ethical Use of Mice in Demonstrating Viral Cancer Treatment Using Vaccinia

Description

Laboratory animals represent an invaluable, yet controversial, resource in the field of biomedical research. Animal research has been behind many influential discoveries in the field of emerging therapeutics. They provide the link between the theory of the lab bench and

Laboratory animals represent an invaluable, yet controversial, resource in the field of biomedical research. Animal research has been behind many influential discoveries in the field of emerging therapeutics. They provide the link between the theory of the lab bench and the functional application of medicine to influence human health. The use of animals in research is a consideration which must be heavily weighed, and the implementation must be carried out at a very high standard in order to retain research integrity and responsibility. We are in the process of conducting an experiment using laboratory mice to demonstrate cancer treatment using vaccinia (VACV) mutants as a possible oncolytic therapy for certain strains of melanoma. VACV is a double-stranded DNA poxvirus with a large and easily altered genome. This virus contains many genes dedicated to immune evasion, but has shown sensitivity to cell death by necroptosis in mouse studies (5). We have identified the absence of the kinase RIP3 which is vital in the necroptosis pathway as a potential target for oncolytic therapy using VACV mutants in specific strains of melanoma. Multiple groups of SCID Beige mice were inoculated with different melanoma cell lines and observed for tumor growth. Upon reaching 1 cm3 in volume, tumors were injected with either VACV- Δ83N, VACV- Δ54N, or PBS, and observed for regression. It was hypothesized that melanoma tumors that are RIP3-/- such as the MDA5 cell line will show regression, but melanoma tumors that are RIP3-positive and capable of necroptosis, such as the 2427 cell line, will resist viral replication and continue to proliferate. Our results so far tentatively support this hypothesis, but the data collection is ongoing. Strict and specific protocols with regard to the ethical and responsible use of mice have been implemented and upheld throughout the experiment. Animals are closely monitored, and if their quality of life becomes too poor to justify their continued use in the experiment, they are humanely euthanized, even at the expense of valuable data. The importance of commitment to a high ethical standard is pervasive throughout our work. Animals represent an invaluable contribution to research, and it is important to maintain high standards and transparency with regard to their use. Education and engagement in critical discussions about the use and care of animals in the laboratory contribute to the overall merit and legitimacy of biomedical research in the public and professional eye as a whole, and give legitimacy to the continued use of animals as models to advance science and health.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2018-05

134596-Thumbnail Image.png

Life History, Cancer Incidence, and Cancer Mortality in Non-Human Primates

Description

Cancer rates in our nearest relatives are largely unknown. Comparison of human cancer rates with other primates should help us to understand the nature of our susceptibilities to cancer. Data from deceased primates was gathered from 3 institutions, the Duke

Cancer rates in our nearest relatives are largely unknown. Comparison of human cancer rates with other primates should help us to understand the nature of our susceptibilities to cancer. Data from deceased primates was gathered from 3 institutions, the Duke Lemur Center, San Diego Zoo, and Jungle Friends primate sanctuary. This data contained over 400 unique individuals across 45 species with information on cancer incidence and mortality. Cancer incidence ranged from 0-71% and cancer mortality ranged from 0-67%. We used weighted phylogenetic regressions to test for an association between life history variables (specifically body mass and lifespan) and cancer incidence as well as mortality. Cancer incidence did not correlate with both body mass and lifespan (p>.05) however, cancer mortality did (p<.05). However, it is uncertain if the variables can be used as reliable predictors of cancer, because the data come from different organizations. This analysis presents cancer incidence rates and cancer mortality rates in species where it was previously unknown, and in some primate species, is surprisingly high. Microcebus murinus(grey mouse lemur) appear to be particularly vulnerable to cancer, mostly lymphomas. Further studies will be required to determine the causes of these vulnerabilities.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2017-05

134152-Thumbnail Image.png

The Effect of Inbreeding and Life History Traits on the Risk of Cancer Mortality in Dogs

Description

Due to artificial selection, dogs have high levels of phenotypic diversity, yet, there appears to be low genetic diversity within individual breeds. Through their domestication from wolves, dogs have gone through a series of population bottlenecks, which has resulted in

Due to artificial selection, dogs have high levels of phenotypic diversity, yet, there appears to be low genetic diversity within individual breeds. Through their domestication from wolves, dogs have gone through a series of population bottlenecks, which has resulted in a reduction in genetic diversity, with a large amount of linkage disequilibrium and the persistence of deleterious mutations. This has led to an increased susceptibility to a multitude of diseases, including cancer. To study the effects of artificial selection and life history characteristics on the risk of cancer mortality, we collected cancer mortality data from four studies as well as the percent of heterozygosity, body size, lifespan and breed group for 201 dog breeds. We also collected specific types of cancer breeds were susceptible to and compared the dog cancer mortality patterns to the patterns observed in other mammals. We found a relationship between cancer mortality rate and heterozygosity, body size, lifespan as well as breed group. Higher levels of heterozygosity were also associated with longer lifespan. These results indicate larger breeds, such as Irish Water Spaniels, Flat-coated Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs, are more susceptible to cancer, with lower heterozygosity and lifespan. These breeds are also more susceptible to sarcomas, as opposed to carcinomas in smaller breeds, such as Miniature Pinschers, Chihuahuas, and Pekingese. Other mammals show that larger and long-lived animals have decreased cancer mortality, however, within dog breeds, the opposite relationship is observed. These relationships could be due to the trade-off between cellular maintenance and growing fast and large, with higher expression of growth factors, such as IGF-1. This study further demonstrates the relationships between cancer mortality, heterozygosity, and life history traits and exhibits dogs as an important model organism for understanding the relationship between genetics and health.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2017-12