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Mapping the RNA-protein interface in telomerase RNP

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In the 1970s James Watson recognized the inability of conventional DNA replication machinery to replicate the extreme termini of chromosomes known as telomeres. This inability is due to the requirement of a building block primer and was termed the

In the 1970s James Watson recognized the inability of conventional DNA replication machinery to replicate the extreme termini of chromosomes known as telomeres. This inability is due to the requirement of a building block primer and was termed the end replication problem. Telomerase is nature's answer to the end replication problem. Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein which extends telomeres through reverse transcriptase activity by reiteratively copying a short intrinsic RNA sequence to generate 3' telomeric extensions. Telomeres protect chromosomes from erosion of coding genes during replication, as well as differentiate native chromosome ends from double stranded breaks. However, controlled erosion of telomeres functions as a naturally occurring molecular clock limiting the replicative capacity of cells. Telomerase is over activated in many cancers, while inactivation leads to multiple lifespan limiting human diseases. In order to further study the interaction between telomerase RNA (TR) and telomerase reverse transcriptase protein (TERT), vertebrate TERT fragments were screened for solubility and purity following bacterial expression. Soluble fragments of medaka TERT including the RNA binding domain (TRBD) were identified. Recombinant medaka TRBD binds specifically to telomerase RNA CR4/CR5 region. Ribonucleotide and amino acid pairs in close proximity within the medaka telomerase RNA-protein complex were identified using photo-activated cross-linking in conjunction with mass spectrometry. The identified cross-linking amino acids were mapped on known crystal structures of TERTs to reveal the RNA interaction interface of TRBD. The identification of this RNA TERT interaction interface furthers the understanding of the telomerase complex at a molecular level and could be used for the targeted interruption of the telomerase complex as a potential cancer treatment.

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2011

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Generalized statistical tolerance analysis and three dimensional model for manufacturing tolerance transfer in manufacturing process planning

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Mostly, manufacturing tolerance charts are used these days for manufacturing tolerance transfer but these have the limitation of being one dimensional only. Some research has been undertaken for the three dimensional geometric tolerances but it is too theoretical and yet

Mostly, manufacturing tolerance charts are used these days for manufacturing tolerance transfer but these have the limitation of being one dimensional only. Some research has been undertaken for the three dimensional geometric tolerances but it is too theoretical and yet to be ready for operator level usage. In this research, a new three dimensional model for tolerance transfer in manufacturing process planning is presented that is user friendly in the sense that it is built upon the Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) readings that are readily available in any decent manufacturing facility. This model can take care of datum reference change between non orthogonal datums (squeezed datums), non-linearly oriented datums (twisted datums) etc. Graph theoretic approach based upon ACIS, C++ and MFC is laid out to facilitate its implementation for automation of the model. A totally new approach to determining dimensions and tolerances for the manufacturing process plan is also presented. Secondly, a new statistical model for the statistical tolerance analysis based upon joint probability distribution of the trivariate normal distributed variables is presented. 4-D probability Maps have been developed in which the probability value of a point in space is represented by the size of the marker and the associated color. Points inside the part map represent the pass percentage for parts manufactured. The effect of refinement with form and orientation tolerance is highlighted by calculating the change in pass percentage with the pass percentage for size tolerance only. Delaunay triangulation and ray tracing algorithms have been used to automate the process of identifying the points inside and outside the part map. Proof of concept software has been implemented to demonstrate this model and to determine pass percentages for various cases. The model is further extended to assemblies by employing convolution algorithms on two trivariate statistical distributions to arrive at the statistical distribution of the assembly. Map generated by using Minkowski Sum techniques on the individual part maps is superimposed on the probability point cloud resulting from convolution. Delaunay triangulation and ray tracing algorithms are employed to determine the assembleability percentages for the assembly.

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2011

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Novel strategies for producing proteins with non-proteinogenic amino acids

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The biological and chemical diversity of protein structure and function can be greatly expanded by position-specific incorporation of non-natural amino acids bearing a variety of functional groups. Non-cognate amino acids can be incorporated into proteins at specific sites by using

The biological and chemical diversity of protein structure and function can be greatly expanded by position-specific incorporation of non-natural amino acids bearing a variety of functional groups. Non-cognate amino acids can be incorporated into proteins at specific sites by using orthogonal aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase/tRNA pairs in conjunction with nonsense, rare, or 4-bp codons. There has been considerable progress in developing new types of amino acids, in identifying novel methods of tRNA aminoacylation, and in expanding the genetic code to direct their position. Chemical aminoacylation of tRNAs is accomplished by acylation and ligation of a dinucleotide (pdCpA) to the 3'-terminus of truncated tRNA. This strategy allows the incorporation of a wide range of natural and unnatural amino acids into pre-determined sites, thereby facilitating the study of structure-function relationships in proteins and allowing the investigation of their biological, biochemical and biophysical properties. Described in Chapter 1 is the current methodology for synthesizing aminoacylated suppressor tRNAs. Aminoacylated suppressor tRNACUAs are typically prepared by linking pre-aminoacylated dinucleotides (aminoacyl-pdCpAs) to 74 nucleotide (nt) truncated tRNAs (tRNA-COH) via a T4 RNA ligase mediated reaction. Alternatively, there is another route outlined in Chapter 1 that utilizes a different pre-aminoacylated dinucleotide, AppA. This dinucleotide has been shown to be a suitable substrate for T4 RNA ligase mediated coupling with abbreviated tRNA-COHs for production of 76 nt aminoacyl-tRNACUAs. The synthesized suppressor tRNAs have been shown to participate in protein synthesis in vitro, in an S30 (E. coli) coupled transcription-translation system in which there is a UAG codon in the mRNA at the position corresponding to Val10. Chapter 2 describes the synthesis of two non-proteinogenic amino acids, L-thiothreonine and L-allo-thiothreonine, and their incorporation into predetermined positions of a catalytically competent dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) analogue lacking cysteine. Here, the elaborated proteins were site-specifically derivitized with a fluorophore at the thiothreonine residue. The synthesis and incorporation of phosphorotyrosine derivatives into DHFR is illustrated in Chapter 3. Three different phosphorylated tyrosine derivatives were prepared: bis-nitrobenzylphosphoro-L-tyrosine, nitrobenzylphosphoro-L-tyrosine, and phosphoro-L-tyrosine. Their ability to participate in a protein synthesis system was also evaluated.

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2013

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Studies on the three-dimensional structures of proteins using X-ray crystallography

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X-ray diffraction is the technique of choice to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins. In this study it has been applied to solve the structure of the survival motor neuron (SMN) proteins, the Fenna-Mathews-Olson (FMO) from Pelodictyon phaeum (Pld. phaeum)

X-ray diffraction is the technique of choice to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins. In this study it has been applied to solve the structure of the survival motor neuron (SMN) proteins, the Fenna-Mathews-Olson (FMO) from Pelodictyon phaeum (Pld. phaeum) protein, and the synthetic ATP binding protein DX. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive genetic disease resulting in muscle atrophy and paralysis via degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord. In this work, we used X-ray diffraction technique to solve the structures of the three variant of the of SMN protein, namely SMN 1-4, SMN-WT, and SMN-Δ7. The SMN 1-4, SMN-WT, and SMN-Δ7 crystals were diffracted to 2.7 Å, 5.5 Å and 3.0 Å, respectively. The three-dimensional structures of the three SMN proteins have been solved. The FMO protein from Pld. phaeum is a water soluble protein that is embedded in the cytoplasmic membrane and serves as an energy transfer funnel between the chlorosome and the reaction center. The FMO crystal diffracted to 1.99Å resolution and the three-dimensional structure has been solved. In previous studies, double mutant, DX, protein was purified and crystallized in the presence of ATP (Simmons et al., 2010; Smith et al. 2007). DX is a synthetic ATP binding protein which resulting from a random selection of DNA library. In this study, DX protein was purified and crystallized without the presence of ATP to investigate the conformational change in DX structure. The crystals of DX were diffracted to 2.5 Å and the three-dimensional structure of DX has been solved.

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2013

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Directed evolution of gp120 binding mutants of the lectin Cyanovirin-N

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Cyanovirin-N (CV-N) is a naturally occurring lectin originally isolated from the cyanobacteria Nostoc ellipsosporum. This 11 kDa lectin is 101 amino acids long with two binding sites, one at each end of the protein. CV-N specifically binds to terminal Manα1-2Manα

Cyanovirin-N (CV-N) is a naturally occurring lectin originally isolated from the cyanobacteria Nostoc ellipsosporum. This 11 kDa lectin is 101 amino acids long with two binding sites, one at each end of the protein. CV-N specifically binds to terminal Manα1-2Manα motifs on the branched, high mannose Man9 and Man8 glycosylations found on enveloped viruses including Ebola, Influenza, and HIV. wt-CVN has micromolar binding to soluble Manα1-2Manα and also inhibits HIV entry at low nanomolar concentrations. CV-N's high affinity and specificity for Manα1-2Manα makes it an excellent lectin to study for its glycan-specific properties. The long-term aim of this project is to make a variety of mutant CV-Ns to specifically bind other glycan targets. Such a set of lectins may be used as screening reagents to identify biomarkers and other glycan motifs of interest. As proof of concept, a T7 phage display library was constructed using P51G-m4-CVN genes mutated at positions 41, 44, 52, 53, 56, 74, and 76 in binding Domain B. Five CV-N mutants were selected from the library and expressed in BL21(DE3) E. coli. Two of the mutants, SSDGLQQ-P51Gm4-CVN and AAGRLSK-P51Gm4-CVN, were sufficiently stable for characterization and were examined by CD, Tm, ELISA, and glycan array. Both proteins have CD minima at approximately 213 nm, indicating largely β-sheet structure, and have Tm values greater than 40°C. ELISA against gp120 and RNase B demonstrate both proteins' ability to bind high mannose glycans. To more specifically determine the binding specificity of each protein, AAGRLSK-P51Gm4-CVN, SSDGLQQ-P51Gm4-CVN, wt-CVN, and P51G-m4-CVN were sent to the Consortium for Functional Glycomics (CFG) for glycan array analysis. AAGRLSK-P51Gm4-CVN, wt-CVN, and P51G-m4-CVN, have identical specificities for high mannose glycans containing terminal Manα1-2Manα. SSDGLQQ-P51Gm4-CVN binds to terminal GlcNAcα1-4Gal motifs and a subgroup of high mannose glycans bound by P51G-m4-CVN. SSDGLQQ-wt-CVN was produced to restore anti-HIV activity and has a high nanomolar EC50 value compared to wt-CVN's low nanomolar activity. Overall, these experiments show that CV-N Domain B can be mutated and retain specificity identical to wt-CVN or acquire new glycan specificities. This first generation information can be used to produce glycan-specific lectins for a variety of applications.

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2013

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Modification of electron transfer proteins in the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii chloroplast for alternative fuel development

Description

There is a critical need for the development of clean and efficient energy sources. Hydrogen is being explored as a viable alternative to fuels in current use, many of which have limited availability and detrimental byproducts. Biological photo-production of H2

There is a critical need for the development of clean and efficient energy sources. Hydrogen is being explored as a viable alternative to fuels in current use, many of which have limited availability and detrimental byproducts. Biological photo-production of H2 could provide a potential energy source directly manufactured from water and sunlight. As a part of the photosynthetic electron transport chain (PETC) of the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, water is split via Photosystem II (PSII) and the electrons flow through a series of electron transfer cofactors in cytochrome b6f, plastocyanin and Photosystem I (PSI). The terminal electron acceptor of PSI is ferredoxin, from which electrons may be used to reduce NADP+ for metabolic purposes. Concomitant production of a H+ gradient allows production of energy for the cell. Under certain conditions and using the endogenous hydrogenase, excess protons and electrons from ferredoxin may be converted to molecular hydrogen. In this work it is demonstrated both that certain mutations near the quinone electron transfer cofactor in PSI can speed up electron transfer through the PETC, and also that a native [FeFe]-hydrogenase can be expressed in the C. reinhardtii chloroplast. Taken together, these research findings form the foundation for the design of a PSI-hydrogenase fusion for the direct and continuous photo-production of hydrogen in vivo.

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2013

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Active and passive precision grip responses to unexpected perturbations

Description

The development of advanced, anthropomorphic artificial hands aims to provide upper extremity amputees with improved functionality for activities of daily living. However, many state-of-the-art hands have a large number of degrees of freedom that can be challenging to control in

The development of advanced, anthropomorphic artificial hands aims to provide upper extremity amputees with improved functionality for activities of daily living. However, many state-of-the-art hands have a large number of degrees of freedom that can be challenging to control in an intuitive manner. Automated grip responses could be built into artificial hands in order to enhance grasp stability and reduce the cognitive burden on the user. To this end, three studies were conducted to understand how human hands respond, passively and actively, to unexpected perturbations of a grasped object along and about different axes relative to the hand. The first study investigated the effect of magnitude, direction, and axis of rotation on precision grip responses to unexpected rotational perturbations of a grasped object. A robust "catch-up response" (a rapid, pulse-like increase in grip force rate previously reported only for translational perturbations) was observed whose strength scaled with the axis of rotation. Using two haptic robots, we then investigated the effects of grip surface friction, axis, and direction of perturbation on precision grip responses for unexpected translational and rotational perturbations for three different hand-centric axes. A robust catch-up response was observed for all axes and directions for both translational and rotational perturbations. Grip surface friction had no effect on the stereotypical catch-up response. Finally, we characterized the passive properties of the precision grip-object system via robot-imposed impulse perturbations. The hand-centric axis associated with the greatest translational stiffness was different than that for rotational stiffness. This work expands our understanding of the passive and active features of precision grip, a hallmark of human dexterous manipulation. Biological insights such as these could be used to enhance the functionality of artificial hands and the quality of life for upper extremity amputees.

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2013

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Behavior of colloids with anisotropic diffusivities

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Locomotion of microorganisms is commonly observed in nature and some aspects of their motion can be replicated by synthetic motors. Synthetic motors rely on a variety of propulsion mechanisms including auto-diffusiophoresis, auto-electrophoresis, and bubble generation. Regardless of the source of

Locomotion of microorganisms is commonly observed in nature and some aspects of their motion can be replicated by synthetic motors. Synthetic motors rely on a variety of propulsion mechanisms including auto-diffusiophoresis, auto-electrophoresis, and bubble generation. Regardless of the source of the locomotion, the motion of any motor can be characterized by the translational and rotational velocity and effective diffusivity. In a uniform environment the long-time motion of a motor can be fully characterized by the effective diffusivity. In this work it is shown that when motors possess both translational and rotational velocity the motor transitions from a short-time diffusivity to a long-time diffusivity at a time of pi/w. The short-time diffusivities are two to three orders of magnitude larger than the diffusivity of a Brownian sphere of the same size, increase linearly with concentration, and scale as v^2/2w. The measured long-time diffusivities are five times lower than the short-time diffusivities, scale as v^2/{2Dr [1 + (w/Dr )^2]}, and exhibit a maximum as a function of concentration. The variation of a colloid's velocity and effective diffusivity to its local environment (e.g. fuel concentration) suggests that the motors can accumulate in a bounded system, analogous to biological chemokinesis. Chemokinesis of organisms is the non-uniform equilibrium concentration that arises from a bounded random walk of swimming organisms in a chemical concentration gradient. In non-swimming organisms we term this response diffusiokinesis. We show that particles that migrate only by Brownian thermal motion are capable of achieving non-uniform pseudo equilibrium distribution in a diffusivity gradient. The concentration is a result of a bounded random-walk process where at any given time a larger percentage of particles can be found in the regions of low diffusivity than in regions of high diffusivity. Individual particles are not trapped in any given region but at equilibrium the net flux between regions is zero. For Brownian particles the gradient in diffusivity is achieved by creating a viscosity gradient in a microfluidic device. The distribution of the particles is described by the Fokker-Planck equation for variable diffusivity. The strength of the probe concentration gradient is proportional to the strength of the diffusivity gradient and inversely proportional to the mean probe diffusivity in the channel in accordance with the no flux condition at steady state. This suggests that Brownian colloids, natural or synthetic, will concentrate in a bounded system in response to a gradient in diffusivity and that the magnitude of the response is proportional to the magnitude of the gradient in diffusivity divided by the mean diffusivity in the channel.

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2013

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Towards haptic intelligence for artificial hands: development and use of deformable, fluidic tactile sensors to relate action and perception

Description

Human fingertips contain thousands of specialized mechanoreceptors that enable effortless physical interactions with the environment. Haptic perception capabilities enable grasp and manipulation in the absence of visual feedback, as when reaching into one's pocket or wrapping a belt around oneself.

Human fingertips contain thousands of specialized mechanoreceptors that enable effortless physical interactions with the environment. Haptic perception capabilities enable grasp and manipulation in the absence of visual feedback, as when reaching into one's pocket or wrapping a belt around oneself. Unfortunately, state-of-the-art artificial tactile sensors and processing algorithms are no match for their biological counterparts. Tactile sensors must not only meet stringent practical specifications for everyday use, but their signals must be processed and interpreted within hundreds of milliseconds. Control of artificial manipulators, ranging from prosthetic hands to bomb defusal robots, requires a constant reliance on visual feedback that is not entirely practical. To address this, we conducted three studies aimed at advancing artificial haptic intelligence. First, we developed a novel, robust, microfluidic tactile sensor skin capable of measuring normal forces on flat or curved surfaces, such as a fingertip. The sensor consists of microchannels in an elastomer filled with a liquid metal alloy. The fluid serves as both electrical interconnects and tunable capacitive sensing units, and enables functionality despite substantial deformation. The second study investigated the use of a commercially-available, multimodal tactile sensor (BioTac sensor, SynTouch) to characterize edge orientation with respect to a body fixed reference frame, such as a fingertip. Trained on data from a robot testbed, a support vector regression model was developed to relate haptic exploration actions to perception of edge orientation. The model performed comparably to humans for estimating edge orientation. Finally, the robot testbed was used to perceive small, finger-sized geometric features. The efficiency and accuracy of different haptic exploratory procedures and supervised learning models were assessed for estimating feature properties such as type (bump, pit), order of curvature (flat, conical, spherical), and size. This study highlights the importance of tactile sensing in situations where other modalities fail, such as when the finger itself blocks line of sight. Insights from this work could be used to advance tactile sensor technology and haptic intelligence for artificial manipulators that improve quality of life, such as prosthetic hands and wheelchair-mounted robotic hands.

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2013

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Study of ribosomes having modifications in the peptidyltransferase center using non-alpha-L-amino acids and synthesis and biological evaluation of topopyrones

Description

The ribosome is a ribozyme and central to the biosynthesis of proteins in all organisms. It has a strong bias against non-alpha-L-amino acids, such as alpha-D-amino acids and beta-amino acids. Additionally, the ribosome is only able to incorporate one amino

The ribosome is a ribozyme and central to the biosynthesis of proteins in all organisms. It has a strong bias against non-alpha-L-amino acids, such as alpha-D-amino acids and beta-amino acids. Additionally, the ribosome is only able to incorporate one amino acid in response to one codon. It has been demonstrated that reengineering of the peptidyltransferase center (PTC) of the ribosome enabled the incorporation of both alpha-D-amino acids and beta-amino acids into full length protein. Described in Chapter 2 are five modified ribosomes having modifications in the peptidyltrasnferase center in the 23S rRNA. These modified ribosomes successfully incorporated five different beta-amino acids (2.1 - 2.5) into E. coli dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). The second project (Chapter 3) focused on the study of the modified ribosomes facilitating the incorporation of the dipeptide glycylphenylalanine (3.25) and fluorescent dipeptidomimetic 3.26 into DHFR. These ribosomes also had modifications in the peptidyltransferase center in the 23S rRNA of the 50S ribosomal subunit. The modified DHFRs having beta-amino acids 2.3 and 2.5, dipeptide glycylphenylalanine (3.25) and dipeptidomimetic 3.26 were successfully characterized by the MALDI-MS analysis of the peptide fragments produced by "in-gel" trypsin digestion of the modified proteins. The fluorescent spectra of the dipeptidomimetic 3.26 and modified DHFR having fluorescent dipeptidomimetic 3.26 were also measured. The type I and II DNA topoisomerases have been firmly established as effective molecular targets for many antitumor drugs. A "classical" topoisomerase I or II poison acts by misaligning the free hydroxyl group of the sugar moiety of DNA and preventing the reverse transesterfication reaction to religate DNA. There have been only two classes of compounds, saintopin and topopyrones, reported as dual topoisomerase I and II poisons. Chapter 4 describes the synthesis and biological evaluation of topopyrones. Compound 4.10, employed at 20 µM, was as efficient as 0.5 uM camptothecin, a potent topoisomerase I poison, in stabilizing the covalent binary complex (~30%). When compared with a known topoisomerase II poison, etoposide (at 0.5 uM), topopyorone 4.10 produced similar levels of stabilized DNA-enzyme binary complex (~34%) at 5 uM concentration.

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2013