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Quinone Removal and Replacement within the Reaction Center Protein of Rhodobacter sphaeroides

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With a quantum efficiency of nearly 100%, the electron transfer process that occurs within the reaction center protein of the photosynthetic bacteria Rhodobacter (Rh.) sphaeroides is a paragon for understanding the complexities, intricacies, and overall systemization of energy conversion and

With a quantum efficiency of nearly 100%, the electron transfer process that occurs within the reaction center protein of the photosynthetic bacteria Rhodobacter (Rh.) sphaeroides is a paragon for understanding the complexities, intricacies, and overall systemization of energy conversion and storage in natural systems. To better understand the way in which photons of light are captured, converted into chemically useful forms, and stored for biological use, an investigation into the reaction center protein, specifically into its cascade of cofactors, was undertaken. The purpose of this experimentation was to advance our knowledge and understanding of how differing protein environments and variant cofactors affect the spectroscopic aspects of and electron transfer kinetics within the reaction of Rh. sphaeroides. The native quinone, ubiquinone, was extracted from its pocket within the reaction center protein and replaced by non-native quinones having different reduction/oxidation potentials. It was determined that, of the two non-native quinones tested—1,2-naphthaquinone and 9,10- anthraquinone—the substitution of the anthraquinone (lower redox potential) resulted in an increased rate of recombination from the P+QA- charge-separated state, while the substitution of the napthaquinone (higher redox potential) resulted in a decreased rate of recombination.

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2015-12

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AFM study of gene silencing by DNA methylation and its interactions involving chromatin and methyl CpG binding proteins

Description

CpG methylation is an essential requirement for the normal development of mammals, but aberrant changes in the methylation can lead to tumor progression and cancer. An in-depth understanding of this phenomenon can provide insights into the mechanism of gene repression.

CpG methylation is an essential requirement for the normal development of mammals, but aberrant changes in the methylation can lead to tumor progression and cancer. An in-depth understanding of this phenomenon can provide insights into the mechanism of gene repression. We present a study comparing methylated DNA and normal DNA wrt its persistence length and contour length. Although, previous experiments and studies show no difference between the physical properties of the two, the data collected and interpreted here gives a different picture to the methylation phenomena and its effect on gene silencing. The study was extended to the artificially reconstituted chromatin and its interactions with the methyl CpG binding proteins were also probed.

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2012

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DNA sequencing by recognition tunnelling

Description

Single molecules in a tunnel junction can now be interrogated reliably using chemically-functionalized electrodes. Monitoring stochastic bonding fluctuations between a ligand bound to one electrode and its target bound to a second electrode ("tethered molecule-pair" configuration) gives insight into the

Single molecules in a tunnel junction can now be interrogated reliably using chemically-functionalized electrodes. Monitoring stochastic bonding fluctuations between a ligand bound to one electrode and its target bound to a second electrode ("tethered molecule-pair" configuration) gives insight into the nature of the intermolecular bonding at a single molecule-pair level, and defines the requirements for reproducible tunneling data. Importantly, at large tunnel gaps, there exists a regime for many molecules in which the tunneling is influenced more by the chemical identity of the molecules than by variability in the molecule-metal contact. Functionalizing a pair of electrodes with recognition reagents (the "free analyte" configuration) can generate a distinct tunneling signal when an analyte molecule is trapped in the gap. This opens up a new interface between chemistry and electronics with immediate implications for rapid sequencing of single DNA molecules.

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2012

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Studying the solution behavior of DNA and DNA sliding clamps using various fluorescence techniques

Description

Solution conformations and dynamics of proteins and protein-DNA complexes are often difficult to predict from their crystal structures. The crystal structure only shows a snapshot of the different conformations these biological molecules can have in solution. Multiple different conformations can

Solution conformations and dynamics of proteins and protein-DNA complexes are often difficult to predict from their crystal structures. The crystal structure only shows a snapshot of the different conformations these biological molecules can have in solution. Multiple different conformations can exist in solution and potentially have more importance in the biological activity. DNA sliding clamps are a family of proteins with known crystal structures. These clamps encircle the DNA and enable other proteins to interact more efficiently with the DNA. Eukaryotic PCNA and prokaryotic β clamp are two of these clamps, some of the most stable homo-oligomers known. However, their solution stability and conformational equilibrium have not been investigated in depth before. Presented here are the studies involving two sliding clamps: yeast PCNA and bacterial β clamp. These studies show that the β clamp has a very different solution stability than PCNA. These conclusions were reached through various different fluorescence-based experiments, including fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), single molecule fluorescence, and various time resolved fluorescence techniques. Interpretations of these, and all other, fluorescence-based experiments are often affected by the properties of the fluorophores employed. Often the fluorescence properties of these fluorophores are influenced by their microenvironments. Fluorophores are known to sometimes interact with biological molecules, and this can have pronounced effects on the rotational mobility and photophysical properties of the dye. Misunderstanding the effect of these photophysical and rotational properties can lead to a misinterpretation of the obtained data. In this thesis, photophysical behaviors of various organic dyes were studied in the presence of deoxymononucleotides to examine more closely how interactions between fluorophores and DNA bases can affect fluorescent properties. Furthermore, the properties of cyanine dyes when bound to DNA and the effect of restricted rotation on FRET are presented in this thesis. This thesis involves studying fluorophore photophysics in various microenvironments and then expanding into the solution stability and dynamics of the DNA sliding clamps.

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2013

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Carbon nanotube based nanofluidic devices

Description

Nanofluidic devices in which one single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) spans a barrier between two fluid reservoirs were constructed, enabling direct electrical measurement of the transport of ions and molecules. Ion current through these devices is about 2 orders of magnitude

Nanofluidic devices in which one single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) spans a barrier between two fluid reservoirs were constructed, enabling direct electrical measurement of the transport of ions and molecules. Ion current through these devices is about 2 orders of magnitude larger than that predicted from the bulk resistivity of the electrolyte. Electroosmosis drives excess current, carried by cations, and is found to be the origin of giant ionic current through SWCNT as shown by building an ionic field-effect transistor with a gate electrode embedded in the fluid barrier. Wetting of inside of the semi-conducting SWCNT by water showed the change of its electronic property, turning the electronic SWCNT field-effect transistor to "on" state. These findings provide a new method to investigate and control the ion and molecule behavior at nanoscale.

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2011

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Measurement of molecular conductance

Description

This dissertation describes the work on two projects which involves measuring molecular conductance and studying their properties on the nanoscale using various Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) techniques. The first molecule studied was a porphyrin-fullerene moiety known as a molecular Dyad

This dissertation describes the work on two projects which involves measuring molecular conductance and studying their properties on the nanoscale using various Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) techniques. The first molecule studied was a porphyrin-fullerene moiety known as a molecular Dyad for photovoltaic applications. This project is further divided into two section, the first one involving the characterization of the Dyad monolayers and conductance measurement in the dark. The Dyads are designed to form charge separated states on illumination. The lifetime of the charged states have been measured efficiently but the single-molecule conductance through the molecules have yet to be characterized. The second part of the project describes the set-up of a novel sample stage which enables the study of molecular conductance under illumination. This part also describes the subsequent study of the molecule under illumination and the observation of a unique charge-separated state. It also contains the verification of the presence of this charge-separated using other characterization techniques like transient absorption spectroscopy. The second project described in the dissertation was studying and comparing the predicted rectifying nature of two molecules, identical in every way except for one stereocenter. This project describes the formation of monolayers of the molecule on gold and then studying and analyzing the current-voltage characteristics of the molecules and looking for rectification. Both the molecules proved to be rectifying, one more than the other as predicted by theoretical calculations.

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Date Created
2011

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Electronic and ionic transport in carbon nanotubes and other nanostructures

Description

This thesis describes several experiments based on carbon nanotube nanofludic devices and field-effect transistors. The first experiment detected ion and molecule translocation through one single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) that spans a barrier between two fluid reservoirs. The electrical ionic current

This thesis describes several experiments based on carbon nanotube nanofludic devices and field-effect transistors. The first experiment detected ion and molecule translocation through one single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) that spans a barrier between two fluid reservoirs. The electrical ionic current is measured. Translocation of small single stranded DNA oligomers is marked by large transient increases in current through the tube and confirmed by a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) analysis. Carbon nanotubes simplify the construction of nanopores, permit new types of electrical measurement, and open new avenues for control of DNA translocation. The second experiment constructed devices in which the interior of a single-walled carbon nanotube field-effect transistor (CNT-FET) acts as a nanofluidic channel that connects two fluid reservoirs, permitting measurement of the electronic properties of the SWCNT as it is wetted by an analyte. Wetting of the inside of the SWCNT by water turns the transistor on, while wetting of the outside has little effect. This finding may provide a new method to investigate water behavior at nanoscale. This also opens a new avenue for building sensors in which the SWCNT functions as an electronic detector. This thesis also presents some experiments that related to nanofabrication, such as construction of FET with tin sulfide (SnS) quantum ribbon. This work demonstrates the application of solution processed IV-VI semiconductor nanostructures in nanoscale devices.

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Date Created
2011

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Recognition tunneling: approaches towards next generation DNA sequencing

Description

This thesis describes several approaches to next generation DNA sequencing via tunneling current method based on a Scanning Tunneling Microscope system. In chapters 5 and 6, preliminary results have shown that DNA bases could be identified by their characteristic tunneling

This thesis describes several approaches to next generation DNA sequencing via tunneling current method based on a Scanning Tunneling Microscope system. In chapters 5 and 6, preliminary results have shown that DNA bases could be identified by their characteristic tunneling signals. Measurements taken in aqueous buffered solution showed that single base resolution could be achieved with economic setups. In chapter 7, it is illustrated that some ongoing measurements are indicating the sequence readout by making linear scan on a piece of short DNA oligomer. However, to overcome the difficulties of controlling DNA especially ssDNA movement, it is much better to have the tunneling measurement incorporated onto a robust nanopore device to realize sequential reading of the DNA sequence while it is being translocated.

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Date Created
2011

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Application of recognition tunneling in single molecule identification

Description

Single molecule identification is one essential application area of nanotechnology. The application areas including DNA sequencing, peptide sequencing, early disease detection and other industrial applications such as quantitative and quantitative analysis of impurities, etc. The recognition tunneling technique we have

Single molecule identification is one essential application area of nanotechnology. The application areas including DNA sequencing, peptide sequencing, early disease detection and other industrial applications such as quantitative and quantitative analysis of impurities, etc. The recognition tunneling technique we have developed shows that after functionalization of the probe and substrate of a conventional Scanning Tunneling Microscope with recognition molecules ("tethered molecule-pair" configuration), analyte molecules trapped in the gap that is formed by probe and substrate will bond with the reagent molecules. The stochastic bond formation/breakage fluctuations give insight into the nature of the intermolecular bonding at a single molecule-pair level. The distinct time domain and frequency domain features of tunneling signals were extracted from raw signals of analytes such as amino acids and their enantiomers. The Support Vector Machine (a machine-learning method) was used to do classification and predication based on the signal features generated by analytes, giving over 90% accuracy of separation of up to seven analytes. This opens up a new interface between chemistry and electronics with immediate implications for rapid Peptide/DNA sequencing and molecule identification at single molecule level.

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Date Created
2014

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Quantifying mechanical heterogeneity in 3D biological systems with the atomic force microscope

Description

The atomic force microscope (AFM) is capable of directly probing the mechanics of samples with length scales from single molecules to tissues and force scales from pico to micronewtons. In particular, AFM is widely used as a tool to measure

The atomic force microscope (AFM) is capable of directly probing the mechanics of samples with length scales from single molecules to tissues and force scales from pico to micronewtons. In particular, AFM is widely used as a tool to measure the elastic modulus of soft biological samples by collecting force-indentation relationships and fitting these to classic elastic contact models. However, the analysis of raw force-indentation data may be complicated by mechanical heterogeneity present in biological systems. An analytical model of an elastic indentation on a bonded two-layer sample was solved. This may be used to account for substrate effects and more generally address experimental design for samples with varying elasticity. This model was applied to two mechanobiology systems of interest. First, AFM was combined with confocal laser scanning fluorescence microscopy and finite element analysis to examine stiffness changes during the initial stages of invasion of MDA-MB-231 metastatic breast cells into bovine collagen I matrices. It was determined that the cells stiffen significantly as they invade, the amount of stiffening is correlated with the elastic modulus of the collagen gel, and inhibition of Rho-associated protein kinase reduces the elastic modulus of the invading cells. Second, the elastic modulus of cancer cell nuclei was investigated ex situ and in situ. It was observed that inhibition of histone deacetylation to facilitate chromatin decondenstation result in significantly more morphological and stiffness changes in cancerous cells compared to normal cells. The methods and results presented here offer novel strategies for approaching biological systems with AFM and demonstrate its applicability and necessity in studying cellular function in physiologically relevant environments.

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2015