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Analysis of nucleosome dynamics by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy

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Nucleosomes are the basic repetitive unit of eukaryotic chromatin and are responsible for packing DNA inside the nucleus of the cell. They consist of a complex of eight histone proteins (two copies of four proteins H2A, H2B, H3 and

Nucleosomes are the basic repetitive unit of eukaryotic chromatin and are responsible for packing DNA inside the nucleus of the cell. They consist of a complex of eight histone proteins (two copies of four proteins H2A, H2B, H3 and H4) around which 147 base pairs of DNA are wrapped in ~1.67 superhelical turns. Although the nucleosomes are stable protein-DNA complexes, they undergo spontaneous conformational changes that occur in an asynchronous fashion. This conformational dynamics, defined by the "site-exposure" model, involves the DNA unwrapping from the protein core and exposing itself transiently before wrapping back. Physiologically, this allows regulatory proteins to bind to their target DNA sites during cellular processes like replication, DNA repair and transcription. Traditional biochemical assays have stablished the equilibrium constants for the accessibility to various sites along the length of the nucleosomal DNA, from its end to the middle of the dyad axis. Using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), we have established the position dependent rewrapping rates for nucleosomes. We have also used Monte Carlo simulation methods to analyze the applicability of FRET fluctuation spectroscopy towards conformational dynamics, specifically motivated by nucleosome dynamics. Another important conformational change that is involved in cellular processes is the disassembly of nucleosome into its constituent particles. The exact pathway adopted by nucleosomes is still not clear. We used dual color fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to study the intermediates during nucleosome disassembly induced by changing ionic strength. Studying the nature of nucleosome conformational change and the kinetics is very important in understanding gene expression. The results from this thesis give a quantitative description to the basic unit of the chromatin.

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2011

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Protein dielectrophoresis using insulator-based microfluidic platforms

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Rapid and reliable separation and analysis of proteins require powerful analytical methods. The analysis of proteins becomes especially challenging when only small sample volumes are available, concomitantly with low concentrations of proteins. Time critical situations pose additional challenges. Due to

Rapid and reliable separation and analysis of proteins require powerful analytical methods. The analysis of proteins becomes especially challenging when only small sample volumes are available, concomitantly with low concentrations of proteins. Time critical situations pose additional challenges. Due to these challenges, conventional macro-scale separation techniques reach their limitations. While microfluidic devices require only pL-nL sample volumes, they offer several advantages such as speed, efficiency, and high throughput. This work elucidates the capability to manipulate proteins in a rapid and reliable manner with a novel migration technique, namely dielectrophoresis (DEP). Since protein analysis can often be achieved through a combination of orthogonal techniques, adding DEP as a gradient technique to the portfolio of protein manipulation methods can extend and improve combinatorial approaches. To this aim, microfluidic devices tailored with integrated insulating obstacles were fabricated to create inhomogeneous electric fields evoking insulator-based DEP (iDEP). A main focus of this work was the development of pre-concentration devices where topological micropost arrays are fabricated using standard photo- and soft lithographic techniques. With these devices, positive DEP-driven streaming of proteins was demonstrated for the first time using immunoglobulin G (IgG) and bovine serum albumin. Experimentally observed iDEP concentrations of both proteins were in excellent agreement with positive DEP concentration profiles obtained by numerical simulations. Moreover, the micropost iDEP devices were improved by introducing nano-constrictions with focused ion beam milling with which numerical simulations suggested enhancement of the DEP effect, leading to a 12-fold increase in concentration of IgG. Additionally, concentration of β-galactosidase was observed, which seems to occur due to an interplay of negative DEP, electroosmosis, electrokinesis, diffusion, and ion concentration polarization. A detailed study was performed to investigate factors influencing protein DEP under DC conditions, including electroosmosis, electrophoresis, and Joule heating. Specifically, temperature rise within the iDEP device due to Joule heating was measured experimentally with spatial and temporal resolution by employing the thermosensitive dye Rhodamine B. Unlike DNA and cells, protein DEP behavior is not well understood to date. Therefore, this detailed study of protein DEP provides novel information to eventually optimize this protein migration method for pre-concentration, separation, and fractionation.

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2014

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An investigation of the interaction of DNA with selected peptides and proteins

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The communication of genetic material with biomolecules has been a major interest in cancer biology research for decades. Among its different levels of involvement, DNA is known to be a target of several antitumor agents. Additionally, tissue specific interaction between

The communication of genetic material with biomolecules has been a major interest in cancer biology research for decades. Among its different levels of involvement, DNA is known to be a target of several antitumor agents. Additionally, tissue specific interaction between macromolecules such as proteins and structurally important regions of DNA has been reported to define the onset of certain types of cancers.

Illustrated in Chapter 1 is the general history of research on the interaction of DNA and anticancer drugs, most importantly different congener of bleomycin (BLM). Additionally, several synthetic analogues of bleomycin, including the structural components and functionalities, are discussed.

Chapter 2 describes a new approach to study the double-strand DNA lesion caused by antitumor drug bleomycin. The hairpin DNA library used in this study displays numerous cleavage sites demonstrating the versatility of bleomycin interaction with DNA. Interestingly, some of those cleavage sites suggest a novel mechanism of bleomycin interaction, which has not been reported before.

Cytidine methylation has generally been found to decrease site-specific cleavage of DNA by BLM, possibly due to structural change and subsequent reduced bleomycin-mediated recognition of DNA. As illustrated in Chapter 3, three hairpin DNAs known to be strongly bound by bleomycin, and their methylated counterparts, were used to study the dynamics of bleomycin-induced degradation of DNAs in cancer cells. Interestingly, cytidine methylation on one of the DNAs has also shown a major shift in the intensity of bleomycin induced double-strand DNA cleavage pattern, which is known to be a more potent form of bleomycin induced cleavages.

DNA secondary structures are known to play important roles in gene regulation. Chapter 4 demonstrates a structural change of the BCL2 promoter element as a result of its dynamic interaction with the individual domains of hnRNP LL, which is essential to facilitate the transcription of BCL2. Furthermore, an in vitro protein synthesis technique has been employed to study the dynamic interaction between protein domains and the i-motif DNA within the promoter element. Several constructs were made involving replacement of a single amino acid with a fluorescent analogue, and these were used to study FRET between domain 1 and the i-motif, the later of which harbored a fluorescent acceptor nucleotide analogue.

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2014

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Investigating dynamics using three systems: Cy3 on DNA, ME1 heterodimers, and DNA processivity clamps

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Biophysical techniques have been increasingly applied toward answering biological questions with more precision. Here, three different biological systems were studied with the goal of understanding their dynamic differences, either conformational dynamics within the system or oligomerization dynamics between monomers.

Biophysical techniques have been increasingly applied toward answering biological questions with more precision. Here, three different biological systems were studied with the goal of understanding their dynamic differences, either conformational dynamics within the system or oligomerization dynamics between monomers. With Cy3 on the 5' end of DNA, the effects of changing the terminal base pair were explored using temperature-dependent quantum yields. It was discovered, in combination with simulations, that a terminal thymine base has the weakest stacking interactions with the Cy3 dye compared to the other three bases. With ME1 heterodimers, the goal was to see if engineering a salt bridge at the dimerization interface could allow for control over dimerization in a pH-dependent manner. This was performed experimentally by measuring FRET between monomers containing either a Dap or an Asp mutation and comparing FRET efficiency at different pHs. It was demonstrated that the heterodimeric salt bridge would only form in a pH range near neutrality. Finally, with DNA processivity clamps, one aim was to compare the equilibrium dissociation constants, kinetic rate constants, and lifetimes of the closed rings for beta clamp and PCNA. This was done using a variety of biophysical techniques but with three as the main focus: fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, single-molecule experiments, and time-correlated single photon counting measurements. The stability of beta clamp was found to be three orders of magnitude higher when measuring solution stability but only one order of magnitude higher when measuring intrinsic stability, which is a result of salt bridge interactions in the interface of beta clamp. Ongoing work built upon the findings from this project by attempting to disrupt interface stability of different beta clamp mutants by adding salt or changing the pH of the solution. Lingering questions about the dynamics of different areas of the clamps has led to another project for which we have developed a control to demystify some unexpected similarities between beta clamp mutants. With that project, we show that single-labeled and double-labeled samples have similar autocorrelation decays in florescence correlation spectroscopy, allowing us to rule out the dyes themselves as causing fluctuations in the 10-100 microsecond timescale.

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2015

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Investigating the stoichiometry of RuBisCO activase by fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy

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Ribulose-1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase, commonly known as RuBisCO, is an enzyme involved in carbon fixation in photosynthetic organisms. The enzyme is subject to a mechanism-based deactivation during its catalytic cycle. RuBisCO activase (Rca), an ancillary enzyme belonging to the AAA+

Ribulose-1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase, commonly known as RuBisCO, is an enzyme involved in carbon fixation in photosynthetic organisms. The enzyme is subject to a mechanism-based deactivation during its catalytic cycle. RuBisCO activase (Rca), an ancillary enzyme belonging to the AAA+ family of the ATP-ases, rescues RuBisCO by facilitating the removal of the tightly bound sugar phosphates from the active sites of RuBisCO. In this work, we investigated the ATP/ADP dependent oligomerization equilibrium of fluorescently tagged Rca for a wide range of concentrations using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. Results show that in the presence of ADP-Mg2+, the oligomerization state of Rca gradually changes in steps of two subunits. The most probable association model supports the dissociation constants (K_d) of ∼4, 1, 1 μM for the monomer-dimer, dimer-tetramer, and tetramer-hexamer equlibria, respectively. Rca continues to assemble at higher concentrations which are indicative of the formation of aggregates. In the presence of ATP-Mg2+, a similar stepwise assembly is observed. However, at higher concentrations (30-75 µM), the average oligomeric size remains relatively unchanged around six subunits per oligomer. This is in sharp contrast with observations in ADP-Mg2+, where a marked decrease in the diffusion coefficient of Rca was observed, consistent with the formation of aggregates. The estimated K_d values obtained from the analysis of the FCS decays were similar for the first steps of the assembly process in both ADP-Mg2+ and ATP-Mg2+. However, the formation of the hexamer from the tetramer is much more favored in ATP-Mg2+, as evidenced from 20 fold lower K_d associated with this assembly step. This suggests that the formation of a hexameric ring in the presence of ATP-Mg2+. In addition to that, Rca aggregation is largely suppressed in the presence of ATP-Mg2+, as evidenced from the 1000 fold larger K_d value for the hexamer-24 mer association step. In essence, a fluorescence-based method was developed to monitor in vitro protein oligomerization and was successfully applied with Rca. The results provide a strong hint at the active oligomeric structure of Rca, and this information will hopefully help the ongoing research on the mechanistic enzymology of Rca.

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2014

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Interchromophoric Interactions Between TMR, Alexa, and BODIPY Fluorophores

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The fundamental photophysics of fluorescent probes must be understood when the probes are used in biological applications. The photophysics of BODIPY dyes inside polymeric micelles and rhodamine dyes covalently linked to proteins were studied. Hydrophobic boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY) dyes were noncovalently

The fundamental photophysics of fluorescent probes must be understood when the probes are used in biological applications. The photophysics of BODIPY dyes inside polymeric micelles and rhodamine dyes covalently linked to proteins were studied. Hydrophobic boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY) dyes were noncovalently encapsulated inside polymeric micelles. Absorbance and fluorescence measurements were employed to study the photophysics of these BODIPY dyes in the micellar environments. Amphiphilic polymers with a hydrophobic character and low Critical Micelle Concentration (CMC) protected BODIPYS from the aqueous environment. Moderate dye loading conditions did not result in ground-state dimerization, and only fluorescence lifetimes and brightnesses were affected. However, amphiphilic polymers with a hydrophilic character and high CMC did not protect the BODIPYS from the aqueous environment with concomitant ground-state dimerization and quenching of the fluorescence intensity, lifetime, and brightnesses even at low dye loading conditions. At the doubly-labeled interfaces of Escherichia coli (E. coli) DNA processivity β clamps, the interchromophric interactions of four rhodamine dyes were studied: tetramethylrhodamine (TMR), TMR C6, Alexa Fluor 488, and Alexa Fluor 546. Absorbance and fluorescence measurements were performed on doubly-labeled β clamps with singly-labeled β clamps and free dyes as controls. The absorbance measurements revealed that both TMR and TMR C6 readily formed H-dimers (static quenching) at the doubly-labeled interfaces of the β clamps. However, the TMR with a longer linker (TMR C6) also displayed a degree of dynamic quenching. For Alexa Fluor 546 and Alexa Fluor 488, there were no clear signs of dimerization in the absorbance scans. However, the fluorescence properties (fluorescence intensity, lifetime, and anisotropy) of the Alexa Fluor dyes significantly changed when three methodologies were employed to disrupt the doubly-labeled interfaces: 1) the addition of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) detergent to denature the proteins, 2) the addition of clamp loader (γ complex) to open one of the two interfaces, and 3) the use of subunit exchange to decrease the number of dyes per interface. These fluorescence measurements indicated that for the Alexa Fluor dyes, other interchromophoric interactions were present such as dynamic quenching and homo-Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (homo-FRET).

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2018

Sample delivery enabled by 3D printing for reduced sample consumption and mix-and-inject serial crystallography at x-ray free electron lasers

Description

Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) with X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) has enabled the determination of damage-free protein structures at ambient temperatures and of reaction intermediate species with time resolution on the order of hundreds of femtoseconds. However, currently available XFEL

Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) with X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) has enabled the determination of damage-free protein structures at ambient temperatures and of reaction intermediate species with time resolution on the order of hundreds of femtoseconds. However, currently available XFEL facility X-ray pulse structures waste the majority of continuously injected crystal sample, requiring a large quantity (up to grams) of crystal sample to solve a protein structure. Furthermore, mix-and-inject serial crystallography (MISC) at XFEL facilities requires fast mixing for short (millisecond) reaction time points (𝑡"), and current sample delivery methods have complex fabrication and assembly requirements.

To reduce sample consumption during SFX, a 3D printed T-junction for generating segmented aqueous-in-oil droplets was developed. The device surface properties were characterized both with and without a surface coating for improved droplet generation stability. Additionally, the droplet generation frequency was characterized. The 3D printed device interfaced with gas dynamic virtual nozzles (GDVNs) at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), and a relationship between the aqueous phase volume and the resulting crystal hit rate was developed. Furthermore, at the European XFEL (EuXFEL) a similar quantity and quality of diffraction data was collected for segmented sample delivery using ~60% less sample volume than continuous injection, and a structure of 3-deoxy-D-manno- octulosonate 8-phosphate synthase (KDO8PS) delivered by segmented injection was solved that revealed new structural details to a resolution of 2.8 Å.

For MISC, a 3D printed hydrodynamic focusing mixer for fast mixing by diffusion was developed to automate device fabrication and simplify device assembly. The mixer was characterized with numerical models and fluorescence microscopy. A variety of devices were developed to reach reaction intermediate time points, 𝑡", on the order of 100 – 103 ms. These devices include 3D printed mixers coupled to glass or 3D printed GDVNs and two designs of mixers with GDVNs integrated into the one device. A 3D printed mixer coupled to a glass GDVN was utilized at LCLS to study the oxidation of cytochrome c oxidase (CcO), and a structure of the CcO Pr intermediate was determined at 𝑡" = 8 s.

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2019

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Photophysical Studies to Advance Fluorescence Applications in Biophysics

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Fluorescence spectroscopy has been a vital technique in biophysics due to its high sensitivity and specificity. While the recent development of single-molecule (SM) techniques has furthered the molecular-level understanding of complicated biological systems, the full potential of these techniques hinges

Fluorescence spectroscopy has been a vital technique in biophysics due to its high sensitivity and specificity. While the recent development of single-molecule (SM) techniques has furthered the molecular-level understanding of complicated biological systems, the full potential of these techniques hinges on the development and selection of fluorescent probes with customized photophysical properties. Red region probes are inherently desirable as background noise from typical biological systems tends to be at its minimum in this spectral region. The first part of this work studies the photophysical properties of red cyanine dyes to access their usefulness for particular SM applications.Protein-induced fluorescence enhancement (PIFE) based approaches are increasingly being used to investigate DNA-protein interactions at the SM level. However, a key limitation remains the absence of good red PIFE probes. This work investigates the photophysical properties of a red hemicyanine dye (Dy-630) as a potential PIFE probe. Results shed light on optimal design principles for ideal probes for PIFE applications, opening new avenues for the technique’s broad applicability in biophysical studies.
Further, the photophysical behavior of two novel cyanine fluorophores in the far-red (rigidized pentacyanine) and near-Infrared (IR) (rigidized heptacyanine) region are studied. Both probes are designed to eliminate a photoisomerization caused non-radiative pathway by rigidization of the cyanine backbone. The rigidized pentacyanine was found to have desired photophysical properties and improved quantum yield, vital for application in super-resolution imaging. For rigidized heptacyanine, in contrast to the prior project, it was found that photoisomerization does not contribute significantly to the deactivation pathway. Thus, this work clarifies the role of photoisomerization on heptamethine cyanine scaffold and will enable future efforts to optimize NIR dyes for diverse applications.
The second part of this work aims to answer the fundamental question of how the physics of DNA can impact its biology. To this end, interlinkage between the flexibility of local sequence context and the efficiency of uracil removal by Uracil-DNA glycosylase (UDG) protein is investigated using fluorescent base analogue, 2-Aminopurine (2-AP).
In summary, this work focuses on photophysical investigations, the understanding of which is vital for the selection and development of fluorescent probes for biophysical studies.

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2021