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Effect of Rexinoids on Inducing Effector T Cell Chemotaxis

Description

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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Utilizing Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy to Visualize Origami Nanostructure Transfection in Primary Immune Cells

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An aim of fundamental immunology is quantifying the diversity of the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire to elucidate the vast recognition by T cells for protection against pathogen and cancer. The utilization of DNA origami nanostructures engineered to capture single

An aim of fundamental immunology is quantifying the diversity of the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire to elucidate the vast recognition by T cells for protection against pathogen and cancer. The utilization of DNA origami nanostructures engineered to capture single cell paired TCR mRNA sequences has transformed the financial and time requirements of repertoire establishment. To further support this protocol, confocal laser scanning microscopy was implemented following transfection to visualize the stability of the DNA origami within primary immune lymphocytes.

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2018-05

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CXCL10-Induced Migration of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells

Description

Inhibitor of growth factor 4 (ING4) is a tumor suppressor of which low expression has been associated with poor patient survival and aggressive tumor progression in breast cancer. ING4 is characterized as a transcription regulator of inflammatory genes. Among the

Inhibitor of growth factor 4 (ING4) is a tumor suppressor of which low expression has been associated with poor patient survival and aggressive tumor progression in breast cancer. ING4 is characterized as a transcription regulator of inflammatory genes. Among the ING4-regulated genes is CXCL10, a chemokine secreted by endothelial cells during normal inflammation response, which induces chemotactic migration of immune cells to the site. High expression of CXCL10 has been implicated in aggressive breast cancer, but the mechanism is not well understood. A potential signaling molecule downstream of Cxcl10 is Janus Kinase 2 (Jak2), a kinase activated in normal immune response. Deregulation of Jak2 is associated with metastasis, immune evasion, and tumor progression in breast cancer. Thus, we hypothesized that the Ing4/Cxcl10/Jak2 axis plays a key role in breast cancer progression. We first investigated whether Cxcl10 affected breast cancer cell migration. We also investigated whether Cxcl10-mediated migration is dependent on ING4 expression levels. We utilized genetically engineered MDAmb231 breast cancer cells with a CRISPR/Cas9 ING4-knockout construct or a viral ING4 overexpression construct. We performed Western blot analysis to confirm Ing4 expression. Cell migration was assessed using Boyden Chamber assay with or without exogenous Cxcl10 treatment. The results showed that in the presence of Cxcl10, ING4-deficient cells had a two-fold increase in migration as compared to the vector controls, suggesting Ing4 inhibits Cxcl10-induced migration. These findings support our hypothesis that ING4-deficient tumor cells have increased migration when Cxcl10 signaling is present in breast cancer. These results implicate Ing4 is a key regulator of a chemokine-induced tumor migration. Our future plan includes evaluation of Jak2 as an intermediate signaling molecule in Cxcl10/Ing4 pathway. Therapeutic implications of these findings are targeting Cxcl10 and/or Jak2 may be effective in treating ING4-deficient aggressive breast cancer.

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2019-05

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Cloning and expression of antigen-specific T cell receptors

Description

Cancer poses a significant burden on the global health system and represents a leading cause of death worldwide. For late-stage cancers, the traditional treatments of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are not always viable, and they can pose unnecessary health risks

Cancer poses a significant burden on the global health system and represents a leading cause of death worldwide. For late-stage cancers, the traditional treatments of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are not always viable, and they can pose unnecessary health risks to the patients. New immunotherapies, such as adoptive cell transfer, are being developed and refined to treat such cancers. T cell immunotherapies in particular, where a patient’s T cell lymphocytes are isolated and amplified to be re-infused into the patient or where human cell lines are engineered to express T cell receptors for the recognition of common cancer antigens, are being expanded on because for some cancers, they could be the only option. Constructing an optimal pipeline for cloning and expression of antigen-specific TCRs has significant bearing on the efficacy of engineered cell lines for ACT. Adoptive T cell transfer, while making great strides, has to overcome a diverse T cell repertoire – cloning and expressing antigen-specific TCRs can mediate this understanding. Having identified the high frequency FluM1-specific TCR sequences in stimulated donor PBMCs, it was hypothesized that the antigen-specific TCR could be reconstructed via Gateway cloning methods and tested for expression and functionality. Establishing this pipeline would confirm an ability to properly pair and express the heterodimeric chains. In the context of downstream applications, neoantigens would be used to stimulate T cells, the α and β chains would be paired via single-cell or bulk methods, and instead of Gateway cloning, the CDR3 hypervariable regions α and β chains alone would be co-expressed using Golden Gate assembly methods.

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2019-05

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A Review of Podcast Impact and Implications for Education and Beyond

Description

The world of podcasting has exploded in popularity in recent years. This medium is being used in education as well as in the public sector to share ideas, news, and stories. This paper reviews the research behind podcast success as

The world of podcasting has exploded in popularity in recent years. This medium is being used in education as well as in the public sector to share ideas, news, and stories. This paper reviews the research behind podcast success as a news form and in the educational sector and the implications of these findings for the future. Podcast listeners tend to listen to podcasts for entertainment and, notably, to diversify their time while completing other tasks. New ways to directly stream media from portable devices and advances in the internet have helped bolster the popularity of this media form. Podcasting proved to be successful in higher education as students tended to perform better when given access to podcasts. However, they were only successful when using podcasts as classroom adjuncts. This implies that educational podcasts must be produced differently than ones intended for the public. By reviewing the neuroscience behind language, emotion and memory, it was found that narrative formats that also evoked emotions had a positive ability in enhancing the listeners learning and memory. Keeping this in mind, the developed podcast aimed to bridge educational material to the general public by utilizing narrative as a vessel in which to deliver complex information about medicine, science and neuroscience. The accessibility and virtually non-existent barriers to the podcasting world offer a breadth of knowledge and opinions that have numerous factors of social influence. The impact of podcasting on the modern world deserves more research in sociology and psychology as it continues to grow in popularity.

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2019-05

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DNA Origami as Novel Immune Adjuvants

Description

Cytokines induced by inflammasome has been used for blood cancer treatments, yet these treatments have been less successful in the solid tumor microenvironment. Here precise-morphology DNA origami structures were implemented to accurately test the effect and mechanism of activation in

Cytokines induced by inflammasome has been used for blood cancer treatments, yet these treatments have been less successful in the solid tumor microenvironment. Here precise-morphology DNA origami structures were implemented to accurately test the effect and mechanism of activation in the NLRP3 inflammasome. THP1 WT cells, a macrophage cell line, were treated with eleven different DNA origami structures. The inflammasome activation of two cytokines, Interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) and Interferon beta (IFN-β), was measured using HEK Blue IL-1β cells, HEK Blue IFN-β cells, and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Differences in activation signaling have the potential to provide the characterization required to address the intrinsic complexity of modulating an immune response. It is hoped that DNA origami will help induce more inflammation for solid tumors. The DNA origami was tested in three different volumes: 1 μL, 5 μL, and 10 μL. Overall, the origami that showed promising results were Mg Square. Tetrahedral and P53 block also showed potential but not as well as Mg square. Further testing of more DNA origami structures and testing them in mice are key to the success of targeted cancer immunotherapies in the neoadjuvant setting.

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2019-05

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An Evaluation of the Levonorgestrel-Releasing Intrauterine Device and its Impact on Cognitive Function in a Rat Model

Description

The aim of this study was to determine whether IUD administration, with and without the presence of Levo, and with and without the presence of the ovaries, impacts cognition in a rat model. Rats received either Sham or Ovariectomy (Ovx)

The aim of this study was to determine whether IUD administration, with and without the presence of Levo, and with and without the presence of the ovaries, impacts cognition in a rat model. Rats received either Sham or Ovariectomy (Ovx) surgery (removal of the ovaries), plus either no IUD, a Blank IUD (without Levo), or a Levo-releasing IUD (Levo IUD), enabling us to evaluate the effects of Ovx and the effects of IUD administration on cognition. Two weeks after surgery, all treatment groups were tested on the water radial arm maze, Morris water maze, and visible platform task to evaluate cognition. At sacrifice, upon investigation of the uteri, it was determined that some of the IUDs were no longer present in animals from these groups: Sham\u2014Blank IUD, Ovx\u2014Blank IUD, and Sham\u2014Levo IUD. Results from the remaining three groups showed that compared to Sham animals with no IUDs, Ovx animals with no IUDs had marginally impaired working memory performance, and that Ovx animals with Levo IUDs as compared to Ovx animals with no IUDs had marginally enhanced memory performance, not specific to a particular memory type. Results also showed that Ovx animals with Levo IUDs had qualitatively more cells in their vaginal smears and increased uterine horn weight compared to Ovx animals with no IUDs, suggesting local stimulation of the Levo IUDs to the uterine horns. Overall, these results provide alternative evidence to the hypothesis that the Levo IUD administers Levo in solely a localized manner, and suggests that the possibility for the Levo IUD to affect reproductive cyclicity in ovary-intact animals is not rejected. The potential for the Levo IUD to exert effects on cognition suggests that either the hormone does in fact systemically circulate, or that the Levo IUD administration affects cognition by altering an as yet undetermined hormonal or other feedback between the uterus and the brain.

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2018-12

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Hyperactive ERK/MAPK Regulates Cortical GABAergic Neuron Development

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Aberrant signaling through the canonical RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK (ERK/MAPK) pathway leads to the pathology of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders called RASopathies. RASopathies are caused by germline mutations in the ERK/MAPK pathway and have an incidence of approximately 1:2000 births. The majority

Aberrant signaling through the canonical RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK (ERK/MAPK) pathway leads to the pathology of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders called RASopathies. RASopathies are caused by germline mutations in the ERK/MAPK pathway and have an incidence of approximately 1:2000 births. The majority of RASopathies stem from mutations that cause gain-of-function in the ERK/MAPK pathway. In this study, we have begun to unravel the roles that GABAergic interneurons play in the pathology of RASopathies. Our data demonstrate that gain-of-function ERK/MAPK signaling expressed in a GABAergic interneuron-specific fashion leads to forebrain hyperexcitability in mutant mice. Further, some GABAergic interneurons experience activated-caspase 3 mediated apoptosis in the embryonic subpallium, leading to a loss of PV-expressing interneurons in the somatosensory cortex. We found that pharmaceutical intervention during embryogenesis using a MEK1 inhibitor may be effective in preventing apoptosis of these neurons. Future work is still needed to understand the mechanism of the death of GABAergic interneurons and to further pursue therapeutic approaches. Taken together, this study suggests potential roles of cortical GABAergic interneurons in ERK/MAPK-linked pathologies and indicates possible approaches to provide therapy for these conditions.

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2019-05

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A Mechanistic Model of Art Therapy

Description

The goal of my study is to test the overarching hypothesis that art therapy is effective because it targets emotional dysregulation that often accompanies significant health stressors. By reducing the salience of illness-related stressors, art therapy may improve overall mood

The goal of my study is to test the overarching hypothesis that art therapy is effective because it targets emotional dysregulation that often accompanies significant health stressors. By reducing the salience of illness-related stressors, art therapy may improve overall mood and recovery, particularly in patients with cancer. After consulting the primary literature and review papers to develop psychological and neural mechanisms at work in art therapy, I created a hypothetical experimental procedure to test these hypotheses to explain why art therapy is helpful to patients with chronic illness. Studies found that art therapy stimulates activity of multiple brain regions involved in memory retrieval and the arousal of emotions. I hypothesize that patients with chronic illness have a reduced capacity for emotion regulation, or difficulty recognizing, expressing or altering illness-related emotions (Gross & Barrett, 2011). Further I hypothesize that art therapy improves mood and therapeutic outcomes by acting on the emotion-processing regions of the limbic system, and thereby facilitating the healthy expression of emotion, emotional processing, and reappraisal. More mechanistically, I propose art therapy reduces the perception or salience of stressors by reducing amygdala activity leading to decreased activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The art therapy literature and my hypothesis about its mechanisms of action became the basis of my proposed study. To assess the effectiveness of art therapy in alleviating symptoms of chronic disease, I am specifically targeting patients with cancer who exhibit a lack of emotional regulation. Saliva is collected 3 times a week on the day of intervention: morning after waking, afternoon, and evening. Stress levels are tested using one-hour art therapy sessions over the course of 3 months. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) assesses an individual's perceived stress and feelings in past and present situations, for the control and intervention group. To measure improvement in overall mood, 10 one-hour art sessions are performed on patients over 10 weeks. A one-hour discussion analyzing the participants' artwork follows each art session. The Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) assesses overall mood for the intervention and control groups. I created rationale and predictions based on the intended results of each experiment.

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2018-05

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Role of Egr3 in Regulation of DNA Repair

Description

Egr3 is an immediate early gene transcription factor that shows genetic association with schizophrenia, and is found in decreased levels in the brains of schizophrenia patients. Schizophrenia patients also exhibit cognitive and memory deficits, both of which Egr3 has been

Egr3 is an immediate early gene transcription factor that shows genetic association with schizophrenia, and is found in decreased levels in the brains of schizophrenia patients. Schizophrenia patients also exhibit cognitive and memory deficits, both of which Egr3 has been shown to play a crucial role in. Additionally, high levels of DNA damage are found in the brains of schizophrenia patients. A recent study has shown that DNA damage occurs as a result of normal physiological activity in neurons and is required for induction of gene expression of a subset of early response genes. Also, failure to repair this damage can lead to gene expression in a constitutive switched on state. Egr3 knockout (Egr3-/-) mice show deficits in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory. We were interested in characterizing downstream targets of EGR3 in the hippocampus. To determine these targets, electroconvulsive seizure (ECS) was carried out in Egr3 -/- versus wild type (WT) mice, and a microarray study was first done in our lab. ECS maximally stimulates Egr3 expression and we hypothesized that there would be gene targets that are differentially expressed between Egr3 -/- and WT mice that had been subjected to ECS. Two separate analyses of the microarray yielded 65 common genes that were determined as being differentially expressed between WT and Egr3 -/- mice after ECS. Further Ingenuity Pathway Analysis of these 65 genes indicated the Gadd45 signaling pathway to be the top canonical pathway, with the top four pathways all being associated with DNA damage or DNA repair. A literature survey was conducted for these 65 genes and their associated pathways, and 12 of the 65 genes were found to be involved in DNA damage response and/or DNA repair. Validation of differential expression was then conducted for each of the 12 genes, in both the original male cohort used for microarray studies and an additional female cohort of mice. 7 of these genes validated through quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) in the original male cohort used for the microarray study, and 4 validated in both the original male cohort and an independent female cohort. Bioinformatics analysis yielded predicted EGR3 binding sites in promoters of these 12 genes, validating their role as potential transcription targets of EGR3. These data reveal EGR3 to be a novel regulator of DNA repair. Further studies will be needed to characterize the role of Egr3 in repairing DNA damage.

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2018-05