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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

Description

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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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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Algorithmic Prediction of Binding Sites of TNFα/TNFR2 and PD-1/PD-L1

Description

Predicting the binding sites of proteins has historically relied on the determination of protein structural data. However, the ability to utilize binding data obtained from a simple assay and computationally make the same predictions using only sequence information would be

Predicting the binding sites of proteins has historically relied on the determination of protein structural data. However, the ability to utilize binding data obtained from a simple assay and computationally make the same predictions using only sequence information would be more efficient, both in time and resources. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an algorithm developed to predict regions of high-binding on proteins as it applies to determining the regions of interaction between binding partners. This approach was applied to tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), its receptor TNFR2, programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1), and one of its ligand PD-L1. The algorithms applied accurately predicted the binding region between TNFα and TNFR2 in which the interacting residues are sequential on TNFα, however failed to predict discontinuous regions of binding as accurately. The interface of PD-1 and PD-L1 contained continuous residues interacting with each other, however this region was predicted to bind weaker than the regions on the external portions of the molecules. Limitations of this approach include use of a linear search window (resulting in inability to predict discontinuous binding residues), and the use of proteins with unnaturally exposed regions, in the case of PD-1 and PD-L1 (resulting in observed interactions which would not occur normally). However, this method was overall very effective in utilizing the available information to make accurate predictions. The use of the microarray to obtain binding information and a computer algorithm to analyze is a versatile tool capable of being adapted to refine accuracy.

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2018-05

Characterization of mRNA Transcription Termination and Cleavage in C. elegans

Description

In eukaryotes, most messenger RNA precursors (pre-mRNA) undergo extensive processing, leading to the cleavage of the transcript followed by the addition of a poly(A) tail. This process is executed by a large complex known as the Cleavage and Polyadenylation Complex

In eukaryotes, most messenger RNA precursors (pre-mRNA) undergo extensive processing, leading to the cleavage of the transcript followed by the addition of a poly(A) tail. This process is executed by a large complex known as the Cleavage and Polyadenylation Complex (CPC). Its central subcomplex, the Cleavage and Polyadenylation Specificity Factor (CPSF) complex is responsible for recognizing a short hexameric element AAUAAA located at the 3’end in the nascent mRNA molecule and catalyzing the pre-mRNA cleavage. In the round nematode C. elegans, the cleavage reaction is executed by a subunit of this complex named CPSF3, a highly conserved RNA endonuclease. While the crystal structure of its human ortholog CPSF73 has been recently identified, we still do not understand the molecular mechanisms and sequence specificity used by this protein to induce cleavage, which in turn would help to understand how this process is executed in detail. Additionally, we do not understand in additional factors are needed for this process. In order to address these issues, we performed a comparative analysis of the CPSF3 protein in higher eukaryotes to identify conserved functional domains. The overall percent identities for members of the CPSF complex range from 33.68% to 56.49%, suggesting that the human and C. elegans orthologs retain a high level of conservation. CPSF73 is the protein with the overall highest percent identity of the CPSF complex, with its active site-containing domain possessing 74.60% identity with CPSF3. Additionally, we gathered and expressed using a bacterial expression system CPSF3 and a mutant, which is unable to perform the cleavage reaction, and developed an in vitro cleavage assay to test whether CPSF3 activity is necessary and sufficient to induce nascent mRNA cleavage. This project establishes tools to better understand how CPSF3 functions within the CPC and sheds light on the biology surrounding the transcription process as a whole.

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2020-05

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Why Pigs? An Analysis of the Use of Porcine Over Human-derived Enzymes via Digestion Simulation

Description

Enzyme Replacement Therapy (ERT) is a treatment often used for patients with disorders that affect the production of various enzymes within the body, such as Cystic Fibrosis and Fabry Disease. ERT involves the use of artificially-produced enzymes, which can be

Enzyme Replacement Therapy (ERT) is a treatment often used for patients with disorders that affect the production of various enzymes within the body, such as Cystic Fibrosis and Fabry Disease. ERT involves the use of artificially-produced enzymes, which can be derived from humans, pigs, and bacteria. Generally, enzymes derived from porcine and bacterial sources are much less expensive and more accessible than those derived from a human source. This, and the ethical implications that porcine enzymes carry, make the decision of choosing treatment simple to some and complex to others. Ethically, human-derived enzymes are often considered more ethical, while not conflicting with religious beliefs and practices as porcine-derived enzymes do.
In order to further compare porcine and human-derived enzymes, a determination of the enzyme effectiveness was done via digestion simulation. The digestion for both the human and porcine-derived enzymes consisted of three steps: oral, gastric, and intestinal. After the digestion, the absorbance for each enzyme class as well as a dilution curve of the formula used was read and recorded. Using the standard dilution curve and the absorbance values for each unknown, the formula and thus enzyme concentration that was lost through the reaction was able to be calculated.
The effectiveness of both the human and porcine enzymes, determined by the percent of formula lost, was 18.2% and 19.7%, respectively, with an error of 0.6% from the spectrophotometer, and an error of about 10% from the scale used for measuring the enzymes. This error was likely due to the small mass required of the enzymes and can be prevented in the future by performing the experiment at a larger scale.

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2020-05

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Determining Magnesium Metal Affinity of Alpha L- Id in pH 5

Description

Integrin is a protein in cells that manage cell adhesion. They are crucial to the biochemical functions of cells. L 2 is one type of integrin. Its I domain is responsible for ligand binding. Scientists understand how Alpha L I

Integrin is a protein in cells that manage cell adhesion. They are crucial to the biochemical functions of cells. L 2 is one type of integrin. Its I domain is responsible for ligand binding. Scientists understand how Alpha L I domain binds Mg2+ at a pH of 7 but not in acidic environments. Knowing the specificity of integrin at a lower pH is important because when tissues become inflamed, they release acidic compounds. We have cloned, expressed, and purified L I-domain and using NMR analysis, we determined that wild type Alpha L I domain does not bind to Mg2+ at a pH of 5.

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2017-05

Point-of-Care Testing for Detection of Measles and Mumps Immunity

Description

Measles and mumps are highly contagious, vaccine-preventable diseases with cases continuing to persist in high two-dose vaccinated populations. Recent outbreaks on university and college campuses across the United States prompt a need for further understanding of the immunity levels afforded

Measles and mumps are highly contagious, vaccine-preventable diseases with cases continuing to persist in high two-dose vaccinated populations. Recent outbreaks on university and college campuses across the United States prompt a need for further understanding of the immunity levels afforded by the MMR vaccine which has significantly decreased incidence rates of measles and mumps since it was introduced.
Current methods for IgG antibody detection include enzyme immunoassays (EIA) such as the commercially available Diamedix Immunosimplicity® Measles IgG test kit and the Diamedix Immunosimplicity® Mumps IgG test kit. EIAs generally provide high sensitivity and strong specificity, however, there is a need for rapid screening of measles and mumps specific immunity in outbreak and resource-limited areas which could be solved by use a point-of-care (POC) platform.
This study aims to optimize a point-of-care device for the multiplexed detection of MeV, MuV, and RuV IgG antibodies in sera and to compare the sensitivity to commercial enzyme immunoassays. The IgG antibody levels to MeV and MuV were measured using EIA test kits for a total of 44 healthy serum samples. Of the samples, 6% were seronegative for MeV-specific IgG antibodies and 75% were seronegative for MuV-specific antibodies, showing low correlation of IgG antibody levels between both viruses.
To improve the sensitivity of the POC device, multiple conjugated fluorescent secondary antibodies were tested with different surface chemistries. Signal detection was measured using the pre-developed four-site slide reader. Preliminary data show that Nile Red microspheres provide robust signal detection and should be the secondary antibody of choice when sera are tested for IgG antibodies using the POC platform in future work.

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2017-05

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Analysis of the prrAB two-component system regulatory effects on the lipid profile of Mycobacterium smegmatis

Description

The prrAB two-component system has been shown to be essential for viability in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of tuberculosis. To study this system, several prrAB mutants of Mycobacterium smegmatis, a close relative of Mtb, were created for study.

The prrAB two-component system has been shown to be essential for viability in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of tuberculosis. To study this system, several prrAB mutants of Mycobacterium smegmatis, a close relative of Mtb, were created for study. These mutants included a deletion mutant complemented with prrA from Mtb controlled by Pmyc1_tetO, a deletion mutant, and a deletion mutant complemented with prrAB from M. smegmatis controlled by the native prrAB promoter sequence (~167 bp upstream sequence of prrAB). In a previous study, the prrAB deletion mutant clumped excessively relative to the wild-type strain when cultured in a nitrogen-limited medium. To address this irregularity, the lipid profiles of these mutants were analyzed through several experimental methods. Untargeted lipidomic profiles were analyzed by Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry (ESI-MS). The ESI-MS data suggested the deletion mutant accumulates triacylglycerol species relative to the wild-type strain. This data was verified by thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and densitometry of the TLC images. The mycolic acid profile of each mutant was also analyzed by TLC but no noteworthy differences were found. High-throughput RNA-Seq analysis revealed several genes involved in lipid biosynthetic pathways upregulated in the prrAB deletion mutant, thus corroborating the ESI-MS and TLC data.

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2017-05