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Xerostomia and the Microbiome of the Mouth

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Is it possible to treat the mouth as a natural environment, and determine new methods to keep the microbiome in check? The need for biodiversity in health may suggest that every species carries out a specific function that is required

Is it possible to treat the mouth as a natural environment, and determine new methods to keep the microbiome in check? The need for biodiversity in health may suggest that every species carries out a specific function that is required to maintain equilibrium and homeostasis within the oral cavity. Furthermore, the relationship between the microbiome and its host is mutually beneficial because the host is providing microbes with an environment in which they can flourish and, in turn, keep their host healthy. Reviewing examples of larger scale environmental shifts could provide a window by which scientists can make hypotheses. Certain medications and healthcare treatments have been proven to cause xerostomia. This disorder is characterized by a dry mouth, and known to be associated with a change in the composition, and reduction, of saliva. Two case studies performed by Bardow et al, and Leal et al, tested and studied the relationships of certain medications and confirmed their side effects on the salivary glands [2,3]. Their results confirmed a relationship between specific medicines, and the correlating complaints of xerostomia. In addition, Vissink et al conducted case studies that helped to further identify how radiotherapy causes hyposalivation of the salivary glands [4]. Specifically patients that have been diagnosed with oral cancer, and are treated by radiotherapy, have been diagnosed with xerostomia. As stated prior, studies have shown that patients having an ecologically balanced and diverse microbiome tend to have healthier mouths. The oral cavity is like any biome, consisting of commensalism within itself and mutualism with its host. Due to the decreased salivary output, caused by xerostomia, increased parasitic bacteria build up within the oral cavity thus causing dental disease. Every human body contains a personalized microbiome that is essential to maintaining health but capable of eliciting disease. The Human Oral Microbiomics Database (HOMD) is a set of reference 16S rRNA gene sequences. These are then used to define individual human oral taxa. By conducting metagenomic experiments at the molecular and cellular level, scientists can identify and label micro species that inhabit the mouth during parasitic outbreaks or a shifting of the microbiome. Because the HOMD is incomplete, so is our ability to cure, or prevent, oral disease. The purpose of the thesis is to research what is known about xerostomia and its effects on the complex microbiome of the oral cavity. It is important that researchers determine whether this particular perspective is worth considering. In addition, the goal is to create novel experiments for treatment and prevention of dental diseases.

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2015-05

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Bispecific antibodies for the treatment of co-circulating flaviviruses and antibody derivatives for diagnostics in checkpoint immunotherapy

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Flaviviruses (FVs) are among the most medically important arboviruses of the world with the Dengue virus (DENV) accounting for a large percentage of infections observed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Globalization, travel, and the expanding range of

Flaviviruses (FVs) are among the most medically important arboviruses of the world with the Dengue virus (DENV) accounting for a large percentage of infections observed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Globalization, travel, and the expanding range of mosquito vectors, such as Aedes aegypti, have increased the potential of infection rates and illnesses associated with FVs.

The DENV and the Zika (ZIKV) FVs frequently co-circulate and generally cause mild self-liming febrile illnesses. However, a secondary infection with a heterologous DENV serotype may lead to life threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). DHF/DSS have been linked to antibody dependent enhancement of infection (ADE), a phenomenon that occurs when antibodies (Abs) formed against an initial infection with one serotype of DENV cross-reacts but does not neutralize a heterologous DENV serotype in a secondary infection. Furthermore, Abs raised against the ZIKV have been observed to cross-react with the DENV and vice versa, which can potentially cause ADE and lead to severe DENV disease. The ZIKV can be transmitted vertically and has been linked to devastating congenital defects such as microcephaly in newborns. FDA approved treatments do not exist for DENV and ZIKV illnesses. Thus, there is a need for safe and effective treatments for these co-circulating viruses. Here, a tetravalent bispecific antibody (bsAb) targeting the ZIKV and all four serotypes of the DENV was expressed in the Nicotiana benthamiana (N. benthamiana) plant. Functional assays of the DENV/ZIKV bsAb demonstrated binding, neutralization, and a significant reduction in ADE activity against both the DENV and the ZIKV.

A single chain variable fragment (scFv) and a diabody based on an antibody directed against the immune checkpoint inhibitor PD-L1, were also expressed in N. benthamiana leaves. The smaller sizes of the scFv and diabody confers them with the ability to penetrate deeper tissues making them beneficial in diagnostics, imaging, and possibly cancer therapy. The past few decades has seen long strives in recombinant protein production in plants with significant improvements in production, safety, and efficacy. These characteristics make plants an attractive platform for the production of recombinant proteins, biologics, and therapeutics.

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Date Created
2019

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Stress Granule-mediated Mechanism of the Cellular Death Pathway Necroptosis Induced Through Oxidative Stress and Viral Infection

Description

Environmental stressors can perturb cellular homeostasis. Cells activate an integrated stress response that will alleviate the effects of the ongoing stress. Stress-activated protein kinases function to phosphorylate the eukaryotic translation initiation factor, eIF2α, which results in inhibition of translation of

Environmental stressors can perturb cellular homeostasis. Cells activate an integrated stress response that will alleviate the effects of the ongoing stress. Stress-activated protein kinases function to phosphorylate the eukaryotic translation initiation factor, eIF2α, which results in inhibition of translation of house-keeping genes. Following these events, formation of cytoplasmic messenger ribonucleoprotein complexes, known as stress granules, will take place. Stress granules typically have a pro-survival function. These studies demonstrate that assembly of stress granules can also lead to necroptosis. Necroptosis is a caspase-independent, receptor-interacting protein kinase 3 (RIPK3)-dependent cell death pathway executed by mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL) protein. Cellular stress is induced using arsenite (oxidative stress) or by infection with vaccinia virus (VACV) E3 protein Z-DNA-binding domain mutant, VACV-E3LΔ83N. In both cases, RIPK3-dependent death was observed in interferon (IFN)-primed L929 cells. This death led to phosphorylation and trimerization of MLKL, indicative of necroptosis. Necroptosis induced by oxidative stress and VACV-E3LΔ83N infection was dependent on the host Z-form nucleic acid sensor, DNA-dependent activator of IFN-regulatory factors (DAI), as it was inhibited in DAI-deficient L929 cells. Under both cellular stresses, DAI associated with RIPK3 and formed high-molecular-weight complexes, consistent with formation of the necrosomes. DAI localized into stress granules during necroptosis induced by arsenite and the mutant virus, and the necrosomes formed only in presence of stress granule assembly. The significance of stress granules for cellular stress-induced necroptosis was demonstrated using knock-out (KO) cell lines unable to form granules: T cell-restricted intracellular antigen 1 (TIA-1) KO MEF cells and Ras GTPase-activating protein-binding proteins 1 and 2 (G3BP1/2) KO U2OS cells. Necroptosis was inhibited in absence of stress granule formation as no cell death or activation of MLKL was observed in the knock-out cell lines following arsenite treatment or VACV-E3LΔ83N infection. Furthermore, wild-type VACV was able to inhibit stress granule assembly, which coincided with the virus ability to inhibit necroptosis. These studies have led to a model of Z-form nucleic acids being involved in activation of the stress granule-mediated necroptosis following induction by environmental stressors. These results have significance for understanding the etiology of human diseases and the antiviral innate immunity.

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Date Created
2021

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Plant-Expressed Vaccines: Enhancing the Recombinant Immune Complex Platform to Permit Rapid Vaccine Development Against Existing and Emerging Pathogens

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Vaccines are one of the most effective ways of combating infectious diseases and developing vaccine platforms that can be used to produce vaccines can greatly assist in combating global public health threats. This dissertation focuses on the development and pre-clinical

Vaccines are one of the most effective ways of combating infectious diseases and developing vaccine platforms that can be used to produce vaccines can greatly assist in combating global public health threats. This dissertation focuses on the development and pre-clinical testing of vaccine platforms that are highly immunogenic, easily modifiable, economically viable to produce, and stable. These criteria are met by the recombinant immune complex (RIC) universal vaccine platform when produced in plants. The RIC platform is modeled after naturally occurring immune complexes that form when an antibody, a component of the immune system that recognizes protein structures or sequences, binds to its specific antigen, a molecule that causes an immune response. In the RIC platform, a well-characterized antibody is linked via its heavy chain, to an antigen tagged with the antibody-specific epitope. The RIC antibody binds to the epitope tags on other RIC molecules and forms highly immunogenic complexes. My research has primarily focused on the optimization of the RIC platform. First, I altered the RIC platform to enable an N-terminal antigenic fusion instead of the previous C-terminal fusion strategy. This allowed the platform to be used with antigens that require an accessible N-terminus. A mouse immunization study with a model antigen showed that the fusion location, either N-terminal or C-terminal, did not impact the immune response. Next, I studied a synergistic response that was seen upon co-delivery of RIC with virus-like particles (VLP) and showed that the synergistic response could be produced with either N-terminal or C-terminal RIC co-delivered with VLP. Since RICs are inherently insoluble due to their ability to form complexes, I also examined ways to increase RIC solubility by characterizing a panel of modified RICs and antibody-fusions. The outcome was the identification of a modified RIC that had increased solubility while retaining high immunogenicity. Finally, I modified the RIC platform to contain multiple antigenic insertion sites and explored the use of bioinformatic tools to guide the design of a broadly protective vaccine.

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2021