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Optimizing Recombinant Protein Production for Domain Antibodies: Proof-of-Concept

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Recent studies in traumatic brain injury (TBI) have found a temporal window where therapeutics on the nanometer scale can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the parenchyma. Developing protein-based therapeutics is attractive for a number of reasons, yet, the production

Recent studies in traumatic brain injury (TBI) have found a temporal window where therapeutics on the nanometer scale can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the parenchyma. Developing protein-based therapeutics is attractive for a number of reasons, yet, the production pipeline for high yield and consistent bioactive recombinant proteins remains a major obstacle. Previous studies for recombinant protein production has utilized gram-negative hosts such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) due to its well-established genetics and fast growth for recombinant protein production. However, using gram-negative hosts require lysis that calls for additional optimization and also introduces endotoxins and proteases that contribute to protein degradation. This project directly addressed this issue and evaluated the potential to use a gram-positive host such as Brevibacillus choshinensis (Brevi) which does not require lysis as the proteins are expressed directly into the supernatant. This host was utilized to produce variants of Stock 11 (S11) protein as a proof-of-concept towards this methodology. Variants of S11 were synthesized using different restriction enzymes which will alter the location of protein tags that may affect production or purification. Factors such as incubation time, incubation temperature, and media were optimized for each variant of S11 using a robust design of experiments. All variants of S11 were grown using optimized parameters prior to purification via affinity chromatography. Results showed the efficiency of using Brevi as a potential host for domain antibody production in the Stabenfeldt lab. Future aims will focus on troubleshooting the purification process to optimize the protein production pipeline.

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2019-05

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Investigating the efficacy of novel TrkB agonists to augment stroke recovery

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Stroke remains the leading cause of adult disability in developed countries. Most survivors live with residual motor impairments that severely diminish independence and quality of life. After stroke, the only accepted treatment for these patients is motor rehabilitation. However, the

Stroke remains the leading cause of adult disability in developed countries. Most survivors live with residual motor impairments that severely diminish independence and quality of life. After stroke, the only accepted treatment for these patients is motor rehabilitation. However, the amount and kind of rehabilitation required to induce clinically significant improvements in motor function is rarely given due to the constraints of our current health care system. Research reported in this dissertation contributes towards developing adjuvant therapies that may augment the impact of motor rehabilitation and improve functional outcome. These studies have demonstrated reorganization of maps within motor cortex as a function of experience in both healthy and brain-injured animals by using intracortical microstimulation technique. Furthermore, synaptic plasticity has been identified as a key neural mechanism in directing motor map plasticity, evidenced by restoration of movement representations within the spared cortical tissue accompanied by increase in synapse number translating into motor improvement after stroke. There is increasing evidence that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) modulates synaptic and morphological plasticity in the developing and mature nervous system. Unfortunately, BDNF itself is a poor candidate because of its short half-life, low penetration through the blood brain barrier, and activating multiple receptor units, p75 and TrkB on the neuronal membrane. In order to circumvent this problem efficacy of two recently developed novel TrkB agonists, LM22A-4 and 7,8-dihydroxyflavone, that actively penetrate the blood brain barrier and enhance functional recovery. Findings from these dissertation studies indicate that administration of these pharmacological compounds, accompanied by motor rehabilitation provide a powerful therapeutic tool for stroke recovery.

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Date Created
2013

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Using bioengineering approaches to generate a three-dimensional (3D) human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-based model for neurodegenerative diseases

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The pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), remain difficult to ascertain in part because animal models fail to fully recapitulate the complex pathophysiology of these diseases. In vitro models of neurodegenerative diseases generated with patient derived human

The pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), remain difficult to ascertain in part because animal models fail to fully recapitulate the complex pathophysiology of these diseases. In vitro models of neurodegenerative diseases generated with patient derived human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) could provide new insight into disease mechanisms. Although protocols to differentiate hiPSCs and hESCs to neurons have been established, standard practice relies on two dimensional (2D) cell culture systems, which do not accurately mimic the complexity and architecture of the in vivo brain microenvironment.

I have developed protocols to generate 3D cultures of neurons from hiPSCs and hESCs, to provide more accurate models of AD. In the first protocol, hiPSC-derived neural progenitor cells (hNPCs) are plated in a suspension of Matrigel™ prior to terminal differentiation of neurons. In the second protocol, hiPSCs are forced into aggregates called embryoid bodies (EBs) in suspension culture and subsequently directed to the neural lineage through dual SMAD inhibition. Culture conditions are then changed to expand putative hNPC populations and finally differentiated to neuronal spheroids through activation of the tyrosine kinase pathway. The gene expression profiles of the 3D hiPSC-derived neural cultures were compared to fetal brain RNA. Our analysis has revealed that 3D neuronal cultures express high levels of mature pan-neuronal markers (e.g. MAP2, β3T) and neural transmitter subtype specific markers. The 3D neuronal spheroids also showed signs of neural patterning, similar to that observed during embryonic development. These 3D culture systems should provide a platform to probe disease mechanisms of AD and enable to generation of more advanced therapeutics.

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Date Created
2016

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Using Molecular, Cellular and Bioengineering Approaches Towards Understanding Muscle Stem Cell Biology

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Satellite cells are adult muscle stem cells that activate, proliferate, and differentiate into myofibers upon muscle damage. Satellite cells can be cultured and manipulated in vitro, and thus represent an accessible model for studying skeletal muscle biology, and a potential

Satellite cells are adult muscle stem cells that activate, proliferate, and differentiate into myofibers upon muscle damage. Satellite cells can be cultured and manipulated in vitro, and thus represent an accessible model for studying skeletal muscle biology, and a potential source of autologous stem cells for regenerative medicine. This work summarizes efforts to further understanding of satellite cell biology, using novel model organisms, bioengineering, and molecular and cellular approaches. Lizards are evolutionarily the closest vertebrates to humans that regenerate entire appendages. An analysis of lizard myoprogenitor cell transcriptome determined they were most transcriptionally similar to mammalian satellite cells. Further examination showed that among genes with the highest level of expression in lizard satellite cells were an increased number of regulators of chondrogenesis. In micromass culture, lizard satellite cells formed nodules that expressed chondrogenic regulatory genes, thus demonstrating increased musculoskeletal plasticity. However, to exploit satellite cells for therapeutics, development of an ex vivo culture is necessary. This work investigates whether substrates composed of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, as either coatings or hydrogels, can support expansion of this population whilst maintaining their myogenic potency. Stiffer substrates are necessary for in vitro proliferation and differentiation of satellite cells, while the ECM composition was not significantly important. Additionally, satellite cells on hydrogels entered a quiescent state that could be reversed when the cells were subsequently cultured on Matrigel. Proliferation and gene expression data further indicated that C2C12 cells are not a good proxy for satellite cells. To further understand how different signaling pathways control satellite cell behavior, an investigation of the Notch inhibitor protein Numb was carried out. Numb deficient satellite cells fail to activate, proliferate and participate in muscle repair. Examination of Numb isoform expression in satellite cells and embryonic tissues revealed that while developing limb bud, neural tube, and heart express the long and short isoforms of NUMB, satellite cells predominantly express the short isoforms. A preliminary immunoprecipitation- proteomics experiment suggested that the roles of NUMB in satellite cells are related to cell cycle modulation, cytoskeleton dynamics, and regulation of transcription factors necessary for satellite cell function.

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Date Created
2020

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Investigating the Mechanism of a Multi-State Model of WNT Signaling

Description

The WNT signaling pathway plays numerous roles in development and maintenance of adult homeostasis. In concordance with it’s numerous roles, dysfunction of WNT signaling leads to a variety of human diseases ranging from developmental disorders to cancer. WNT signaling is

The WNT signaling pathway plays numerous roles in development and maintenance of adult homeostasis. In concordance with it’s numerous roles, dysfunction of WNT signaling leads to a variety of human diseases ranging from developmental disorders to cancer. WNT signaling is composed of a family of 19 WNT soluble secreted glycoproteins, which are evolutionarily conserved across all phyla of the animal kingdom. WNT ligands interact most commonly with a family of receptors known as frizzled (FZ) receptors, composed of 10 independent genes. Specific interactions between WNT proteins and FZ receptors are not well characterized and are known to be promiscuous, Traditionally canonical WNT signaling is described as a binary system in which WNT signaling is either off or on. In the ‘off’ state, in the absence of a WNT ligand, cytoplasmic β-catenin is continuously degraded by the action of the APC/Axin/GSK-3β destruction complex. In the ‘on’ state, when WNT binds to its Frizzled (Fz) receptor and LRP coreceptor, this protein destruction complex is disrupted, allowing β-catenin to translocate into the nucleus where it interacts with the DNA-bound T cell factor/lymphoid factor (TCF/LEF) family of proteins to regulate target gene expression. However in a variety of systems in development and disease canonical WNT signaling acts in a gradient fashion, suggesting more complex regulation of β-catenin transcriptional activity. As such, the traditional ‘binary’ view of WNT signaling does not clearly explain how this graded signal is transmitted intracellularly to control concentration-dependent changes in gene expression and cell identity. I have developed an in vitro human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-based model that recapitulates the same in vivo developmental effects of the WNT signaling gradient on the anterior-posterior (A/P) patterning of the neural tube observed during early development. Using RNA-seq and ChIP-seq I have characterized β-catenin binding at different levels of WNT signaling and identified different classes of β-catenin peaks that bind cis-regulatory elements to influence neural cell fate. This work expands the traditional binary view of canonical WNT signaling and illuminates WNT/β-catenin activity in other developmental and diseased contexts.

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Date Created
2019