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Effect of Rexinoids on Inducing Effector T Cell Chemotaxis

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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

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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

The Perception of Genetic Risk: What Do We Know About Biological and Psychological Diseases and Where Did We Learn It

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As a biology major, many of my classes have included studying the fundamentals of genetics or investigating the way genetics influence heritability of certain diseases. When I began taking upper-division psychology courses, the genetic factors of psychological disorders became an

As a biology major, many of my classes have included studying the fundamentals of genetics or investigating the way genetics influence heritability of certain diseases. When I began taking upper-division psychology courses, the genetic factors of psychological disorders became an important part of the material. I was exposed to a new idea: that genes were equally important in studying somatic diseases as they were to psychological disorders. As important as genetics are to psychology, they are not part of the required courses for the major; I found many of my peers in psychology courses did not have a grasp on genetic fundamentals in the same way biology majors did. This was a disconnect that I also found in my own life outside the classroom. Growing up, my mother consistently reminded me to limit my carbs and watch my sugars. Diabetes was very prevalent in my family and I was also at risk. I was repeatedly reminded of my own genes and the risk I faced in having this biological disorder. However, my friend whose father was an alcoholic did not warn her in the same way. While she did know of her father's history, she was not warned of the potential for her to become an alcoholic. While my behavior was altered due to my mother's warning and my own knowledge of the genetic risk of diabetes, I wondered if other people at genetic risk of psychological disorders also altered their behavior. Through my thesis, I hope to answer if students have the same perceived genetic knowledge of psychological diseases as they do for biological ones. In my experience, it is not as well known that psychological disorders have genetic factors. For example, alcohol is commonly used by college students. Alcohol use disorder is present in 16.2% of college aged students and "40-60% of the variance of risk explained by genetic influences." (DSM V, 2013) Compare this to diabetes that has "several common genetic variants that account for about 10% of the total genetic effects," but is much more openly discussed even though it is less genetically linked. (McVay, 2015)This stems from the stigma/taboo surrounding many psychological disorders. If students do know that psychological disorder are genetically influenced, I expect their knowledge to be skewed or inaccurate. As part of a survey, I hope to see how strong they believe the genetic risk of certain diseases are as well as where they gained this knowledge. I hypothesize that only students with a background in psychology will be able to correctly assign the genetic risk of the four presented diseases. Completing this thesis will require in-depth study of the genetic factors, an understanding of the way each disease is perceived and understood by the general population, and a statistical analysis of the survey responses. If the survey data turns out as I expect where students do not have a strong grasp of diseases that could potentially influence their own health, I hope to find a way to educate students on biological and psychological diseases, their genetic risk, and how to speak openly about them.

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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

Integrating Art and Science: Evolution of the Beak

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Evolution is a powerful process that acts on features as organisms adapt to fill a variety of niches. It is visible in the emergence of the beak in the fossil record, through a number of small changes over time. To

Evolution is a powerful process that acts on features as organisms adapt to fill a variety of niches. It is visible in the emergence of the beak in the fossil record, through a number of small changes over time. To explain and convey these changes to a general audience, I produced an art book combining my review of bird beak evolution with art. The intent was to present evolution in an informative, visual, and engaging manner that a general audience would be able to understand.

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2020-05

The Beauty Within

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The Beauty Within is a ceramics show displaying human body anatomy, which seeks to bridge aspects of my biological sciences major in the School of Life Sciences with aspects of my studio art minor in the Herberger Institute for Design

The Beauty Within is a ceramics show displaying human body anatomy, which seeks to bridge aspects of my biological sciences major in the School of Life Sciences with aspects of my studio art minor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. My goal in creating the show was to change the opinion of people on human body organs from unease to admiration by recreating these organs in an artistic light. By stylizing the construction of the pieces and bringing in the contemporary form of art \u2014 makeup art \u2014 I hoped to bring a new light to the pieces and highlight the beauty within the human body. By leaving the pieces partly unfinished I further hoped to draw attention to the natural beauty within the pieces regardless of the makeup that covers them. By holding the show in the human anatomy lab room on campus and having both animal and human organs on display I was able to create that sense of disgust toward the organs in the viewers. The beauty of my created pieces was then directly contrasted with the disgust felt about the real organs by displaying each of my pieces next to a real organ. The reactions of the viewers reflected a change in view from the actual organs to my re-created organs, and therefore the goal of the show was achieved.

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2017-05

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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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The Effects of Sleep on Bone Mineral Density in College-Aged Males and Females

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Sleep is imperative for health and wellness with direct impacts on brain function, physiology, emotional well-being, performance and safety when compromised. Adolescents and young adults are increasingly affected by factors affecting the maintenance of regular sleep schedules. College and university

Sleep is imperative for health and wellness with direct impacts on brain function, physiology, emotional well-being, performance and safety when compromised. Adolescents and young adults are increasingly affected by factors affecting the maintenance of regular sleep schedules. College and university students are a potentially vulnerable population to sleep deprivation and sleep insufficiency. Possible factors that could contribute to poor sleep hygiene include, but are not limited to, academic pressures, social activities, and increased screen time. Arguably, students are still experiencing bone mineralization, until the age of 30 or even 40 years old, which makes it more important to understand the effects that altered sleep patterns could have on continued development of bone health. It is our understanding that to date, studies assessing the risk of sleep insufficiency on bone mineral density in college students have not been conducted. We hypothesized that college-aged students, between the ages of 18-25 years, with shorter sleep durations, greater sleep schedule variability, and poorer sleep environments will have significantly lower bone mineral density. ActiGraph monitoring, via a wrist ActiWatch was used to quantitatively measure sleep habits for up to 7 consecutive days. During the week-long study participants also captured their self-reported sleep data through the use of a sleep diary. Participants were measured one time within the study for bone mineral density of the lumbar spine and total hip through a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. This was a preliminary analysis of a larger cross-sectional analysis looked at 17 participants, of which there were 14 females and 3 males, (n=5, 1 and 11 Hispanic, Black and White, respectively). The mean age of participants was 20.8±1.7 y with an average BMI of 22.9±3.2 kg/m2. ActiWatch measurement data showed a mean daily sleep duration of participants to be 437.5 ± 43.1 (372.5 – 509.4) minutes. Mean sleep efficiency (minutes of sleep divided by minutes of time in bed) and mean number of awakenings were 87.4±4.3 (75.4-93.4) minutes and 32.1±6.4 (22.3-42.7) awakenings, respectively. The median time for wake after sleep onset (WASO) was 34.5±10.5 (18.3-67.4) minutes. The mean bone mineral density (BMD) for the hips was 1.06±0.14 (0.81-1.28) g/cm2 with a mean BMD of the lumbar spine being 1.24±0.12 (0.92-1.43) g/cm2. Age-matched Z-scores of the hips was 0.31±0.96 (-1.6-2.1) and lumbar spine was 0.53 (IQR: 0.13, 0.98; -2.25-1.55). Neither sleep duration nor sleep efficiency was significantly correlated to BMD of either locations. While WASO was positively associated with hip and spine BMD, this value was not statistically significant in this population. Overall, associations between sleep and BMD of the femur and spine were not seen in this cohort. Further work utilizing a larger cohort will allow for control of covariates while looking for potential associations between bone health, sleep duration and efficiency.

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2017-05

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Using Ancient DNA Methods to Examine Dire Wolf Population History

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Dire wolves have recently risen to fame as a result of the popular television program Game of Thrones, and thus many viewers know dire wolves as the sigil and loyal companions of the Stark house. Far fewer recognize dire wolves

Dire wolves have recently risen to fame as a result of the popular television program Game of Thrones, and thus many viewers know dire wolves as the sigil and loyal companions of the Stark house. Far fewer recognize dire wolves by their scientific name, Canis dirus, or understand the population history of this ‘fearsome wolf’ species that roamed the Americas until the megafaunal mass extinction event of the Late Pleistocene. Although numerous studies have examined the species using morphological and geographical methods, thus far their results have been either inconclusive or contradictory. Remaining questions include the relationships dire wolves share with other members of the Canis genus and the internal structure of their populations. Advancements in ancient DNA recovery methods may make it possible to study dire wolf specimens at the molecular level for the first time and may therefore prove useful in clarifying the answers to these questions. Eighteen dire wolf specimens were collected from across the United States and subjected to ancient DNA extraction, library preparation, amplification and purification, bait preparation and capture, and next-generation sequencing. There was an average of 76.9 unique reads and 5.73% coverage when mapped to the Canis familiaris reference genome in ultraconserved regions of the mitochondrial genome. The results indicate that endogenous ancient DNA was not successfully recovered and perhaps ancient DNA recovery methods have not advanced to the point of retrieving informative amounts of DNA from particularly old, thermally degraded specimens. Nevertheless, the ever-changing nature of ancient DNA research makes it vital to continually test the limitations of the field and suggests that ancient DNA recovery methods will prove useful in illuminating dire wolf population history at some point in the future.

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2018-05