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Effect of Rexinoids on Inducing Effector T Cell Chemotaxis

Description

The retinoid-X receptor (RXR) can form heterodimers with both the retinoic-acid
receptor (RAR) and vitamin D receptor (VDR). The RXR/RAR dimer is activated by ligand all
trans retinoic acid (ATRA), which culminates in gut-specific effector T cell migration. Similarly,

The retinoid-X receptor (RXR) can form heterodimers with both the retinoic-acid
receptor (RAR) and vitamin D receptor (VDR). The RXR/RAR dimer is activated by ligand all
trans retinoic acid (ATRA), which culminates in gut-specific effector T cell migration. Similarly,
the VDR/RXR dimer binds 1,25(OH)2D3 to cause skin-specific effector T cell migration.
Targeted migration is a potent addition to current vaccines, as it would induce activated T cell
trafficking to appropriate areas of the immune system and ensure optimal stimulation (40).
ATRA, while in use clinically, is limited by toxicity and chemical instability. Rexinoids
are stable, synthetically developed ligands specific for the RXR. We have previously shown that
select rexinoids can enhance upregulation of gut tropic CCR9 receptors on effector T cells.
However, it is important to establish whether these cells can actually migrate, to show the
potential of rexinoids as vaccine adjuvants that can cause gut specific T cell migration.
Additionally, since the RXR is a major contributor to VDR-mediated transcription and
epidermotropism (15), it is worth investigating whether these compounds can also function as
adjuvants that promote migration by increasing expression of skin tropic CCR10 receptors on T
cells.
Prior experiments have demonstrated that select rexinoids can induce gut tropic migration
of CD8+ T cells in an in vitro assay and are comparable in effectiveness to ATRA (7). The effect
of rexinoids on CD4+ T cells is unknown however, so the aim of this project was to determine if
rexinoids can cause gut tropic migration in CD4+ T cells to a similar extent. A secondary aim
was to investigate whether varying concentrations in 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 can be linked to
increasing CCR10 upregulation on Jurkat CD4+ T cells, with the future aim to combine 1,25
Dihydroxyvitamin D3 with rexinoids.
These hypotheses were tested using murine splenocytes for the migration experiment, and
human Jurkat CD4+ T cells for the vitamin D experiment. Migration was assessed using a
Transwell chemotaxis assay. Our findings support the potential of rexinoids as compounds
capable of causing gut-tropic migration in murine CD4+ T cells in vitro, like ATRA. We did not
observe conclusive evidence that vitamin D3 causes upregulated CCR10 expression, but this
experiment must be repeated with a human primary T cell line.

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2020-05

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A Review of the Human Vermiform Appendix and its Proposed Function

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Since its discovery in 1524, many people have characterized the vermiform appendix. Charles Darwin considered the human appendix to be a vestige and a useless structure. Others at the time opposed this hypothesis. However, Darwin's hypothesis became prevalent one until

Since its discovery in 1524, many people have characterized the vermiform appendix. Charles Darwin considered the human appendix to be a vestige and a useless structure. Others at the time opposed this hypothesis. However, Darwin's hypothesis became prevalent one until recently when there became a renewed interest in the appendix because of advancements in microscopes, knowledge of the immune system, and phylogenetics. In this review, I will argue that the vermiform appendix, although still not completely understood, has important functions. First, I will give the anatomy of the appendix. I will discuss the comparative anatomy between different animals and also primates. I will address the effects of appendicitis and appendectomy. I will give background on vestigial structures and will discuss if the appendix is a vestige. Following, I will review the evolution of the appendix. Finally, I will argue that the function of the appendix is as an immune organ, including discussion of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), development of lymphoid follicles in GALT and their comparison within different organs, Immunoglobulin A (IgA) function in the gut, biofilms as evidence that the appendix is a safe-house for beneficial bacteria, re-inoculation of the bowel, and protection against recurring infection. I will conclude with future studies that should be conducted to further our understanding of the vermiform appendix.

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2018-05

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The Development of a Plant-Expressed M2e-Based Universal Influenza Vaccine

Description

Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). The ectodomain of the matrix

Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). The ectodomain of the matrix 2 protein (M2e) of influenza A, however, has demonstrated high levels of conservation. On its own it is poorly immunogenic and offers little protection against influenza infections, but by combining it with a potent adjuvant, this limitation may be overcome. Recombinant immune complexes, or antigens fused to antibodies that have been engineered to form incredibly immunogenic complexes with one another, were previously shown to be useful, immunogenic platforms for the presentation of various antigens and could provide the boost in immunogenicity that M2e needs to become a powerful universal influenza A vaccine. In this thesis, genetic constructs containing geminiviral replication proteins and coding for a consensus sequence of dimeric M2e fused to antibodies featuring complimentary epitopes and epitope tags were generated and used to transform Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The transformed bacteria was then used to cause Nicotiana benthamiana to transiently express M2e-RICs at very high levels, with enough RICs being gathered to evaluate their potency in future mouse trials. Future directions and areas for further research are discussed.

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2018-05

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Development of Nanozymes from 2D Materials for Optical Detection of Neurotransmitters

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This paper discusses the possibility of utilizing 2D molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) as a nanozyme to detect dopamine colorimetric assays, first by detecting color change in liquid solutions due to oxidation and then second on paper-based assays. MoS2 samples dispersed in

This paper discusses the possibility of utilizing 2D molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) as a nanozyme to detect dopamine colorimetric assays, first by detecting color change in liquid solutions due to oxidation and then second on paper-based assays. MoS2 samples dispersed in methylcellulose (MC) solution were prepared using liquid-phase exfoliation through sonication. The dopamine (DOPA) and hydrogen peroxide (H¬¬2O2) solutions were prepared separately in specific concentrations. The solutions were mixed in a well plate and colorimetric results were analyzed by a plate reader, revealing a quantitative relationship between dopamine concentration and absorbance. Subsequent testing was conducted using paper assays, where combined solutions of DOPA and H2O2 were dropped onto paper with printed wax wells that contained dried MoS2. An analysis of the color change was conducted using a smartphone application called Color Grab to detect the red, green, and blue (RGB) values. Plotting the RGB results across the dopamine concentrations revealed a positively correlated relationship between the two factors, suggesting that a predictive model could be developed to predict dopamine concentrations based on measured colorimetric values.

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2019-05

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S. Cerevisiae Sul1 and Sul2 Sulfate Transporters in Varying Sulfate Concentrations

Description

The primary objective of this project is to further the knowledge about SCL26 family of anion transporters. The goals of the experiment were to find the lowest sulfate concentration where the yeast without Sulp1 and Sulp2 is able to grow,

The primary objective of this project is to further the knowledge about SCL26 family of anion transporters. The goals of the experiment were to find the lowest sulfate concentration where the yeast without Sulp1 and Sulp2 is able to grow, but it grows very slowly, and to find a higher sulfate concentration where the yeast grows quickly, with or without the sulfate transporters. The lowest sulfate concentration where the yeast without the sulfate transporters is able to grow was determined to be 2-4 mM, however, this range can likely be refined by more quantitative analytical methods. At a sulfate concentration of 20 mM sulfate or higher, the yeast is able to grow quickly without high-affinity sulfate transporters. The next step in the project is to re-introduce the Sulp1 and Sulp2 genes into the yeast, so that growth in low and high sulfate conditions can be compared with and without the Sulp1 and Sulp2 proteins. The long-term goals of the project are to bring experience with yeast to Dr. Nannenga’s structural discovery lab, to determine if yeast sulfate transporters respond in the same way to drug candidates as human sulfate transporters, and to determine the structure of the proteins using cryo-electron microscopy.

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2019-05

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Measuring the Activity of Φ29 DNA Polymerase

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The major goal of this large project is to develop a Recognition Tunneling Nanopore (RTP) device that will be used for determining the structure of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). The RTP device is composed of a recognition tunneling junction that is embedded

The major goal of this large project is to develop a Recognition Tunneling Nanopore (RTP) device that will be used for determining the structure of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). The RTP device is composed of a recognition tunneling junction that is embedded in a nanopore. In order to translocate the GAG molecule through the nanopore, researchers have designed a scheme in which the GAG molecule of interest will be attached to the 5’ end of a DNA primer (figure 1) and the DNA primer will be extended by a biotinylated Φ29 DNA polymerase that is anchored in the nanoslit using streptavidin. This research project specifically is part of a larger project with the main goal of comparing the activity of the wild-type Φ29 DNA polymerase which I have expressed and purified with the mutated Φ29 DNA polymerase devoid of 3’ - 5’ exonuclease activity which was made by Dr. Deng.

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2018-05

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Worker Policing Mechanisms in Ponerine Ant Species

Description

For colonies of ponerine ant species, sterility regulation after a founding queen's death is not totally achieved in the worker caste, and the possibility of sexual reproduction is opened to workers. The persisting survival of these colonies is dependent on

For colonies of ponerine ant species, sterility regulation after a founding queen's death is not totally achieved in the worker caste, and the possibility of sexual reproduction is opened to workers. The persisting survival of these colonies is dependent on capturing the optimal reproductive ratio; yet, an informational gap bounds the mechanisms detailing the selection of new reproductives and the suppression of ovarian development in rejected reproductives. We investigated the mechanisms of worker policing, one of the primary methods of ovarian suppression, through continuous video observation for a period of five days at the start of colony instability. Observations suggest policing in H. saltator is performed by a majority of a colony, including potential reproductives, and requires multiple events to fully discourage ovarian growth.

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2018-12

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Analysis of the Cellular Localization of PANK2 Mutations Using a Yeast Model

Description

Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, PKAN, is a neurological disease that is caused by biallelic mutations in the PANK2 gene, which codes for a pantothenate kinase. Some PANK2 mutations that cause PKAN retain enzymatic activity. A possible explanation for the mutations that

Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, PKAN, is a neurological disease that is caused by biallelic mutations in the PANK2 gene, which codes for a pantothenate kinase. Some PANK2 mutations that cause PKAN retain enzymatic activity. A possible explanation for the mutations that have residual activity but still cause the disease is that they do not have the correct cellular localization. The localization of PANK2 was studied through cellular fractionation. We found the precursor form of PANK2, pPANK2, appears to be anchored to the inner membrane of the mitochondria, and the mature form, mPANK2, is located in the inter-membrane space, IMS. However, the IMS of the PKAN causing mutants is completely devoid of mPANK2 which suggests some disease-causing mutations may be mislocalized. In addition, PANK2 catalyzes the first and rate limiting step in Coenzyme A biosynthesis, and in other studies, it has been shown that the CoA biosynthesis enzymes form a complex in yeast. Therefore, we also considered the possibility that PKAN-causing mutations that retain activity have altered interactions with the other CoA biosynthesis enzymes. Coimmunoprecipitation of the proteins in the pathway was done to determine if there were any interactions with PANK2. The results indicate that PANK2 does not directly interact with either PPCS or CoASY, the second and final enzymatic activities in the CoA biosynthesis pathway.

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2019-05

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Structural Analysis of the Spinach Rubisco Activase AAA+ Domain by Negative Stain Electron Microscopy

Description

Higher plant Rubisco activase (Rca) is a stromal ATPase responsible for reactivating Rubisco. It is a member of the AAA+ protein superfamily and is thought to assemble into closed-ring hexamers like other AAA+ proteins belonging to the classic clade. Progress

Higher plant Rubisco activase (Rca) is a stromal ATPase responsible for reactivating Rubisco. It is a member of the AAA+ protein superfamily and is thought to assemble into closed-ring hexamers like other AAA+ proteins belonging to the classic clade. Progress towards modeling the interaction between Rca and Rubisco has been slow due to limited structural information on Rca. Previous efforts in the lab were directed towards solving the structure of spinach short-form Rca using X-ray crystallography, given that it had notably high thermostability in the presence of ATP-γS, an ATP analog. However, due to disorder within the crystal lattice, an atomic resolution structure could not be obtained, prompting us to move to negative stain electron microscopy (EM), with our long-term goal being the use of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) for atomic resolution structure determination. Thus far, we have screened different Rca constructs in the presence of ATP-γS, both the full-length β-isoform and truncations containing only the AAA+ domain. Images collected on preparations of the full-length protein were amorphous, whereas images of the AAA+ domain showed well-defined ring-like assemblies under some conditions. Procedural adjustments, such as the use of previously frozen protein samples, rapid dilution, and minimizing thawing time were shown to improve complex assembly. The presence of Mn2+ was also found to improve hexamer formation over Mg2+. Calculated class averages of the AAA+ Rca construct in the presence of ATP-γS indicated a lack of homogeneity in the assemblies, showing both symmetric and asymmetric hexameric rings. To improve structural homogeneity, we tested buffer conditions containing either ADP alone or different ratios of ATP-γS to ADP, though results did not show a significant improvement in homogeneity. Multiple AAA+ domain preparations were evaluated. Because uniform protein assembly is a major requirement for structure solution by cryo-EM, more work needs to be done on screening biochemical conditions to optimize homogeneity.

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2018-05

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A protocol for Resolving Indeterminate Blood Phenotypes in Rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and Cynomolgus Macaques (M. fascicularis)

Description

Rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and cynomolgus (M. fascicularis) macaques are the most commonly used nonhuman primate models in biomedical research. It is therefore critical to correctly infer each study animal's ABO blood group phenotype to prevent fatal transfusion- and transplantation-induced immune

Rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and cynomolgus (M. fascicularis) macaques are the most commonly used nonhuman primate models in biomedical research. It is therefore critical to correctly infer each study animal's ABO blood group phenotype to prevent fatal transfusion- and transplantation-induced immune responses. While most macaques can be efficiently and accurately phenotyped using a DNA-based assay, we have identified some animals that are unable to be classified as type A, B, or AB and therefore exhibit an indeterminate phenotype. The purpose of this study was to develop a protocol for resolving indeterminate blood group phenotypes and consequently determine if these animals do indeed belong to an O blood phenotype. We attempted both direct and cloning-based sequencing of 21 animals phenotyped as A, B, AB, or indeterminate in order to assess variation at the functional mutation site in exon 7 of the macaque ABO gene. Although direct-from-PCR Sanger sequencing was unable to generate reliable sequence results, our cloned plasmid protocol yielded high quality sequences consistent with known blood group-specific alleles and as such can be used to identify informative polymorphisms at this locus.

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2018-05