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Immunological Responses to the White-Nose Syndrome Pathogen and their Potential Use as Control

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White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal infection devastating bat populations throughout eastern North America. WNS is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of hibernating bats. While there are a number of treatments being researched, there

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal infection devastating bat populations throughout eastern North America. WNS is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of hibernating bats. While there are a number of treatments being researched, there is currently no effective treatment for WNS that is deployed in the field, except a few being tested on a limited scale. Bats have lowered immune function and response during hibernation, which may increase susceptibility to infection during the winter months. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a crucial component of the innate immune system and serve as barriers against infection. AMPs are constitutively expressed on skin and facilitate wound healing, stimulate other immune responses, and may also stay active on bat skin during hibernation. AMPs are expressed by all tissues, have direct killing abilities against microbes, and are a potential treatment for bats infected with Pd. In this investigation, the fungicidal activity of several readily available commercial AMPs were compared, and killing assay protocols previously investigated by Frasier and Lake were replicated to establish a control trial for use in future killing assays. Another aim of this investigation was to synthesize a bat-derived AMP for use in the killing assay. Sequences of bat-derived AMPs have been identified in bat skin samples obtained from a large geographic sampling of susceptible and resistant species. Contact was made with GenScript Inc., the company from which commercially available AMPs were purchased, to determine the characteristics of peptide sequences needed to synthesize an AMP for lab use. Based on recommendations from GenScript Inc., peptide sequences need to have a hydrophobicity of less than 50% and a sequence length of less than 50 amino acids. These criteria serve as a potential barrier because none of the known bat-derived sequences analyzed satisfy both of these requirements. The final aim of this study was to generate a conceptual model of the immune response molecules activated when bats are exposed to a fungal pathogen such as Pd. Overall, this work investigated sources of variability between trials of the killing assay, analyzed known bat-derived peptide sequences, and generated a conceptual model that will serve as a guideline for identification of immune response molecules on the skin of bats in future proteomics work.

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2019-05

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Evaluating the viability of a DNA-based chip targeted for C. trachomatis, N. gonorrhoeae, and other pathogens of interest

Description

Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia, standardly treated with antibiotics, produce over 1.2 million cases annually in the emergency department (Jenkins et al., 2013). To determine a need for antibiotics, hospital labs utilize bacterial cultures to isolate and identify

Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia, standardly treated with antibiotics, produce over 1.2 million cases annually in the emergency department (Jenkins et al., 2013). To determine a need for antibiotics, hospital labs utilize bacterial cultures to isolate and identify possible pathogens. Unfortunately, this technique can take up to 72 hours, leading to several physicians presumptively treating patients based solely on history and physical presentation. With vague standards for diagnosis and a high percentage of asymptomatic carriers, several patients undergo two scenarios; over- or under-treatment. These two scenarios can lead to consequences like unnecessary exposure to antibiotics and development of secondary conditions (for example: pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, etc.). This presents a need for a laboratory technique that can provide reliable results in an efficient matter. The viability of DNA-based chip targeted for C. trachomatis, N. gonorrhoeae, and other pathogens of interest were evaluated. The DNA-based chip presented several advantages as it can be easily integrated as a routine test given the process is already well-known, is customizable and able to target multiple pathogens within a single test and has the potential to return results within a few hours as opposed to days. As such, implementation of a DNA-based chip as a diagnostic tool is a timely and potentially impactful investigation.

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2016-12