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Variance in bee species richness: seasonal, spatial, and temporal differences

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Bee communities form the keystone of many ecosystems through their pollination services. They are dynamic and often subject to significant changes due to several different factors such as climate, urban development, and other anthropogenic disturbances. As a result, the world

Bee communities form the keystone of many ecosystems through their pollination services. They are dynamic and often subject to significant changes due to several different factors such as climate, urban development, and other anthropogenic disturbances. As a result, the world has been experiencing a decline in bee diversity and abundance, which can have detrimental effects in the ecosystems they inhabit. One of the largest factors that impacts bees in today's world is the rapid urbanization of our planet, and it impacts the bee community in mixed ways. Not very much is understood about the bee communities that exist in urban habitats, but as urbanization is inevitably going to continue, knowledge on bee communities will need to strengthen. This study aims to determine the levels of variance in bee communities, considering multiple variables that bee communities can differ in. The following three questions are posed: do bee communities that are spatially separated differ significantly? Do bee communities that are separated by seasons differ significantly? Do bee communities that are separated temporally (by year, interannually) differ significantly? The procedure to conduct this experiment consists of netting and trapping bees at two sites at various times using the same methods. The data is then statistically analyzed for differences in abundance, richness, diversity, and species composition. After performing the various statistical analyses, it has been discovered that bee communities that are spatially separated, seasonally separated, or interannually separated do not differ significantly when it comes to abundance and richness. Spatially separated bee communities and interannually separated bee communities show a moderate level of dissimilarity in their species composition, while seasonally separated bee communities show a greater level of dissimilarity in species composition. Finally, seasonally separated bee communities demonstrate the greatest disparity of bee diversity, while interannually separated bee communities show the least disparity of bee diversity. This study was conducted over the time span of two years, and while the levels of variance of an urban area between these variables were determined, further variance studies of greater length or larger areas should be conducted to increase the currently limited knowledge of bee communities in urban areas. Additional studies on precipitation amounts and their effects on bee communities should be conducted, and studies from other regions should be taken into consideration while attempting to understand what is likely the most environmentally significant group of insects.

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2017-05

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Whole cell proteomics: understanding sperm composition and maturation

Description

Infertility has become an increasing problem in developed countries and in many cases can be attributed to compromised sperm quality. Assessment of male fertility typically utilizes semen analysis which mainly examines sperm morphology, however many males whose sperm appear normal

Infertility has become an increasing problem in developed countries and in many cases can be attributed to compromised sperm quality. Assessment of male fertility typically utilizes semen analysis which mainly examines sperm morphology, however many males whose sperm appear normal are sub- or infertile, suggesting that sperm from these males may be deficient in a protein or suite of proteins. To date, very little is known about the composition of sperm or the complex maturation process that confers motility and fertilization competency to sperm. Chapter 1 discusses the use of whole cell mass spectrometry to identify 1247 proteins comprising the Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) sperm proteome, a commonly used model of human reproduction. This study provides a more robust proxy of human sperm composition than was previously available and facilitates studies of sperm using the rhesus macaque as a model. Chapters 2 & 3 provide a systems level overview of changes in sperm proteome composition that occurs during epididymal transit. Chapter 2 reports the proteomes of sperm collected from the caput, corpus and cauda segments of the mouse epididymis, identifying 1536, 1720 and 1234 proteins respectively. Chapter 3 reports the sperm proteome from four distinct segments of the Rhesus macaque epididymis, including the caput, proximal corpus, distal corpus and cauda, identifying 1951, 2014, 1764 and 1423 proteins respectively. These studies identify a number of proteins that are added and removed from sperm during epididymal transit which likely play an important role in the sperm maturation process. To date no comparative evolutionary studies of sperm proteomes have been undertaken. Chapter 4 compares four mammalian sperm proteomes including the human, macaque, mouse and rat. This study identified 98 proteins common to all four sperm proteomes, 82 primate and 90 rodent lineage-specific proteins and 494, 467, 566, and 193 species specific proteins in the human, macaque, mouse and rat sperm proteomes respectively and discusses how differences in sperm composition may ultimately lead to functional differences across species. Finally, chapter 5 uses sperm proteome data to inform the preliminary design of a rodent contraceptive vaccine delivered orally using recombinant attenuated Salmonella vaccine vectors.

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Date Created
2013

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Detection of a Coccidioidal Peptide in Plasma from Patients with Active Coccidioidomycosis

Description

Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is a disease caused by the dimorphic soil-dwelling fungus, Coccidioides sp. Coccidioidomycosis is difficult to diagnose because symptoms are similar to community-acquired pneumonia. Current diagnostic tests rely on antibody responses, but immune responses can

Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is a disease caused by the dimorphic soil-dwelling fungus, Coccidioides sp. Coccidioidomycosis is difficult to diagnose because symptoms are similar to community-acquired pneumonia. Current diagnostic tests rely on antibody responses, but immune responses can be delayed and aberrant, resulting in false negative diagnoses. Unlike serology, detection of coccidioidal proteins or other fungal components in blood could distinguish valley fever from other pulmonary infections and provide a definitive diagnosis. Using mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) we examined the plasma peptidome from patients with serologically confirmed coccidioidomycosis. Mass spectra were searched using the protein database from the Coccidioides species, generated and annotated by the Broad Institute. 15 of 20 patients with serologically confirmed coccidioidomycosis demonstrated the presence of a peptide in plasma, "PGLDSKSLACTFSQV" (PGLD). The peptide is derived from an open reading frame from a "conserved hypothetical protein" annotated with 2 exons, and to date, found only in the C. posadasii strain Silviera RMSCC 3488 genomic sequence. In this thesis work, cDNA sequence analysis from polyadenylated RNA confirms the peptide sequence and genomic location of the peptide, but does not indicate that the intron in the gene prediction of C. posadasii strain Silviera RMSCC 3488 is present. A monoclonal antibody generated against the peptide bound to a 16kDa protein in T27K coccidioidal lysate. Detecting components of the fungus plasma could be a useful diagnostic tool, especially when serology does not provide a definitive diagnosis.

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2013

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Loss of LKB1 leads to alteration of the immune microenvironment in non-small cell lung cancer

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The majority of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients (70%) are diagnosed with adenocarcinoma versus other histological subtypes. These patients often present with advanced, metastatic disease and frequently relapse after treatment. The tumor suppressor, Liver Kinase B1, is frequently

The majority of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients (70%) are diagnosed with adenocarcinoma versus other histological subtypes. These patients often present with advanced, metastatic disease and frequently relapse after treatment. The tumor suppressor, Liver Kinase B1, is frequently inactivated in adenocarcinomas and loss of function is associated with a highly aggressive, metastatic tumor (1). Identification of the mechanisms deregulated with LKB1 inactivation could yield targeted therapeutic options for adenocarcinoma patients. Re-purposing the immune system to support tumor growth and aid in metastasis has been shown to be a feature in cancer progression (2). Tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) differentiate from monocytes, which are recruited to the tumor microenvironment via secretion of chemotaxic factors by cancer cells. We find that NSCLC cells deficient in LKB1 display increased secretion of C-C motif ligand 2 (CCL2), a chemokine involved in monocyte recruitment. To elucidate the molecular pathway regulating CCL2 up-regulation, we investigated inhibitors of substrates downstream of LKB1 signaling in A549, H23, H2030 and H838 cell lines. Noticeably, BAY-11-7082 (NF-κB inhibitor) reduced CCL2 secretion by an average 92%. We further demonstrate that a CCR2 antagonist and neutralizing CCL2 antibody substantially reduce monocyte migration to NSCLC (H23) cell line conditioned media. Using an in vivo model of NSCLC, we find that LKB1 deleted tumors demonstrate a discernible increase in CCL2 levels compared to normal lung. Moreover, tumors display an increase in the M2:M1 macrophage ratio and increase in tumor associated neutrophil (TAN) infiltrate compared to normal lung. This M2 shift was significantly reduced in mice treated with anti-CCL2 or a CCR2 antagonist and the TAN infiltrate was significantly reduced with the CCR2 antagonist. These data suggest that deregulation of the CCL2/CCR2 signaling axis could play a role in cancer progression in LKB1 deficient tumors.

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Date Created
2015

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Rapid point-of-care testing for measles immunity

Description

Measles is a contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that continues to be the leading

cause of death in children younger than the age of 5 years. While the introduction of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine (MMR) has significantly decreased morbidity and mortality

Measles is a contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that continues to be the leading

cause of death in children younger than the age of 5 years. While the introduction of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine (MMR) has significantly decreased morbidity and mortality rates worldwide, vaccine coverage is highly variable across global regions. Current diagnostic methods rely on enzyme immunoassays (EIA) to detect IgM or IgG Abs in serum. Commercially available Diamedix Immunosimplicity® Measles IgG test kit has been shown to have 91.1% sensitivity and 93.8% specificity, with a positive predictive value of 88.7% and a negative predictive value of 90.9% on the basis of a PRN titer of 120. There is an increasing need for rapid screening for measles specific immunity in outbreak settings. This study aims to develop a rapid molecular diagnostic assay to detect IgG reactive to three individual measles virus (MeV) proteins.

Measles virus (MeV) genes were subcloned into the pJFT7_nGST vector to generate N- terminal GST fusion proteins. Single MeV cistrons were expressed using in vitro transcription/translation (IVTT) with human cell lysate. Expression of GST-tagged proteins was measured with mouse anti-GST mAb and sheep anti-mouse IgG. Relative light units (RLUs) as luminescence was measured. Antibodies to MeV antigens were measured in 40 serum samples from healthy subjects.

Protein expression of three MeV genes of interest was measured in comparison with vector control and statistical significance was determined using the Student’s t-test (p<0.05). N expressed at the highest level with an average RLU value of 3.01 x 109 (p<0.001) and all proteins were expressed at least 50% greater than vector control (4.56 x 106 RLU). 36/40 serum samples had IgG to N (Ag:GST ratio>1.21), F (Ag:GST ratio>1.92), or H (Ag:GST ratio> 1.23).

These data indicate that the in vitro expression of MeV antigens, N, F, and H, were markedly improved by subcloning into pJFT7_nGST vector to generate N-terminal GST fusion proteins. The expression of single MeV genes N, F and H, are suitable antigens for serologic capture analysis of measles-specific antibodies. These preliminary data can be used to design a more intensive study to explore the possibilities of using these MeV antigens as a diagnostic marker.

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Date Created
2016

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Protein Regulators of Lipid and Energy Metabolism

Description

Lipolysis or hydrolysis of triglyceride (TG) stored within intracellular lipid droplets (LD), is vital to maintaining metabolic homeostasis in mammals. Regulation of lipolysis and subsequent utilization of liberated fatty acids impacts cellular and organismal functions including body fat accumulation and

Lipolysis or hydrolysis of triglyceride (TG) stored within intracellular lipid droplets (LD), is vital to maintaining metabolic homeostasis in mammals. Regulation of lipolysis and subsequent utilization of liberated fatty acids impacts cellular and organismal functions including body fat accumulation and thermogenesis. Adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) is the intracellular rate-limiting enzyme responsible for catalyzing hydrolysis of TG to diacylglycerol (DAG), the initial step of the lipolytic reaction. G0/G1 switch gene-2 (G0S2) and hypoxia-inducible gene-2 (HIG2) are selective inhibitors of ATGL. G0S2 facilitates accumulation of TG in the liver and adipose tissue, while HIG2 functions under hypoxic conditions. Sequence analysis and mutagenesis were used to confirm the presence of conserved domains between these proteins, and that these domains are required for efficient binding and inhibition of ATGL. Further analysis revealed a Positive sequence (Pos-Seq)-LD binding motif in G0S2 but not HIG2. The Pos-Seq mediated ATGL-independent localization to LD and was required for achieving maximal inhibition of ATGL activity by G0S2. Identification and mutational analysis of this motif revealed distinct mechanisms for HIG2 and G0S2 LD association. In addition to molecular characterization of known protein inhibitors of lipolysis, an intracellular member of the apolipoprotein L (ApoL) family, ApoL6, was also identified as a LD and mitochondria associated protein expressed in adipose tissue. Brown adipose tissue uses fatty acids as fuel for increasing its energy output as heat during acute responses to cold exposure. A Comprehensive Lab Animal Monitoring System was used to compare heat production at room temperature (RT) and 4oC in transgenic animals overexpressing ApoL6 in brown adipose tissue. Overexpression of ApoL6 delayed utilization of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) as a fuel source while promoting an enhanced thermogenic response during initial cold exposure. ApoL6 mediated inhibition of LCFA utilization results from binding of ApoL6 to Mitochondrial Trifunctional Protein (MTP/TFP), which catalyzes mitochondrial β-oxidation. Indirect calorimetry and fasting acute cold exposure experiments suggest the augmented thermogenic profile of ApoL6 transgenic animals is a result of enhanced utilization of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), glucose, and amino acids as fuel sources. Cumulatively these results indicate multiple mechanisms for regulation lipolysis and fatty acid utilization.

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Date Created
2021

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Development of N-glycan specific plant produced antibody therapeutics for a fine-tuned immune response

Description

Antibodies are naturally occurring proteins that protect a host during infection through direct neutralization and/or recruitment of the innate immune system. Unfortunately, in some infections, antibodies present unique hurdles that must be overcome for a safer and more efficacious antibody-based

Antibodies are naturally occurring proteins that protect a host during infection through direct neutralization and/or recruitment of the innate immune system. Unfortunately, in some infections, antibodies present unique hurdles that must be overcome for a safer and more efficacious antibody-based therapeutic (e.g., antibody dependent viral enhancement (ADE) and inflammatory pathology). This dissertation describes the utilization of plant expression systems to produce N-glycan specific antibody-based therapeutics for Dengue Virus (DENV) and Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV). The Fc region of an antibody interacts with Fcγ Receptors (FcγRs) on immune cells and components of the innate immune system. Each class of immune cells has a distinct action of neutralization (e.g., antibody dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and antibody dependent cell-mediated phagocytosis (ADCP)). Therefore, structural alteration of the Fc region results in novel immune pathways of protection. One approach is to modulate the N-glycosylation in the Fc region of the antibody. Of scientific significance, is the plant’s capacity to express human antibodies with homogenous plant and humanized N-glycosylation (WT and GnGn, respectively). This allows to study how specific glycovariants interact with other components of the immune system to clear an infection, producing a tailor-made antibody for distinct diseases. In the first section, plant-produced glycovariants were explored for reduced interactions with specific FcγRs for the overall reduction in ADE for DENV infections. The results demonstrate a reduction in ADE of our plant-produced monoclonal antibodies in in vitro experiments, which led to a greater survival in vivo of immunodeficient mice challenged with lethal doses of DENV and a sub-lethal dose of DENV in ADE conditions. In the second section, plant-produced glycovariants were explored for increased interaction with specific FcγRs to improve ADCC in the treatment of the highly inflammatory CHIKV. The results demonstrate an increase ADCC activity in in vitro experiments and a reduction in CHIKV-associated inflammation in in vivo mouse models. Overall, the significance of this dissertation is that it can provide a treatment for DENV and CHIKV; but equally importantly, give insight to the role of N-glycosylation in antibody effector functions, which has a broader implication for therapeutic development for other viral infections.

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Date Created
2019

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Developing a CRISPR-Mediated Knockout TCR Human T Cell Line for Use in Cloning Antigen-Specific T Cell Receptors

Description

Adoptive transfer of T cells engineered to express synthetic antigen-specific T cell receptors (TCRs) has provocative therapeutic applications for treating cancer. However, expressing these synthetic TCRs in a CD4+ T cell line is a challenge. The CD4+ Jurkat T cell

Adoptive transfer of T cells engineered to express synthetic antigen-specific T cell receptors (TCRs) has provocative therapeutic applications for treating cancer. However, expressing these synthetic TCRs in a CD4+ T cell line is a challenge. The CD4+ Jurkat T cell line expresses endogenous TCRs that compete for space, accessory proteins, and proliferative signaling, and there is the potential for mixed dimer formation between the α and β chains of the endogenous receptor and that of the synthetic cancer-specific TCRs. To prevent hybridization between the receptors and to ensure the binding affinity measured with flow cytometry analysis is between the tetramer and the TCR construct, a CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing pipeline was developed. The guide RNAs (gRNAs) within the complex were designed to target the constant region of the α and β chains, as they are conserved between TCR clonotypes. To minimize further interference and confer cytotoxic capabilities, gRNAs were designed to target the CD4 coreceptor, and the CD8 coreceptor was delivered in a mammalian expression vector. Further, Golden Gate cloning methods were validated in integrating the gRNAs into a CRISPR-compatible mammalian expression vector. These constructs were transfected via electroporation into CD4+ Jurkat T cells to create a CD8+ knockout TCR Jurkat cell line for broadly applicable uses in T cell immunotherapies.

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Date Created
2020