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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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Elucidating the molecular dynamics, structure and assembly of spider dragline silk proteins by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy

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Spider dragline silk is an outstanding biopolymer with a strength that exceeds steel by weight and a toughness greater than high-performance fibers like Kevlar. For this reason, structural and dynamic studies on the spider silk are of great importance for

Spider dragline silk is an outstanding biopolymer with a strength that exceeds steel by weight and a toughness greater than high-performance fibers like Kevlar. For this reason, structural and dynamic studies on the spider silk are of great importance for developing future biomaterials. The spider dragline silk comprises two silk proteins, Major ampullate Spidroin 1 and 2 (MaSp1 and 2), which are synthesized and stored in the major ampullate (MA) gland of spiders. The initial state of the silk proteins within Black Widow MA glands was probed with solution-state NMR spectroscopy. The conformation dependent chemical shifts information indicates that the silk proteins are unstructured and in random coil conformation. 15N relaxation parameters, T1, T2 and 15N-{1H} steady-state NOE were measured to probe the backbone dynamics for MA silk proteins. These measurements indicate fast sub-nanosecond timescale backbone dynamics for the repetitive core of spider MA proteins indicating that the silk proteins are unfolded, highly flexible random coils in the MA gland. The translational diffusion coefficients of the spider silk proteins within the MA gland were measured using 1H diffusion NMR at 1H sites from different amino acids. A phenomenon was observed where the measured diffusion coefficients decrease with an increase in the diffusion delay used. The mean displacement along the external magnetic field was found to be 0.35 μm and independent of the diffusion delay. The results indicate that the diffusion of silk protein was restricted due to intermolecular cross-linking with only segmental diffusion observable.

To understand how a spider converts the unfolded protein spinning dope into a highly structured and oriented in the super fiber,the effect of acidification on spider silk assembly was investigated on native spidroins from the major ampullate (MA) gland fluid excised from Latrodectus hesperus (Black Widow) spiders. The in vitro spider silk assembly kinetics were monitored as a function of pH with a 13C solid-state Magic Angle Spinning (MAS) NMR approach. The results confirm the importance of acidic pH in the spider silk self-assembly process with observation of a sigmoidal nucleation-elongation kinetic profile. The rates of nucleation and elongation and the percentage of β-sheet structure in the grown fibers depend on pH.

The secondary structure of the major ampullate silk from Peucetia viridians (Green Lynx) spiders was characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and solid-state NMR spectroscopy. From XRD measurement, β-sheet nano-crystallites were observed that are highly oriented along the fiber axis with an orientational order of 0.980. Compare to the crystalline region, the amorphous region was found to be partially oriented with an orientational order of 0.887. Further, two dimensional 13C-13C through-space and through-bond solid-state NMR experiments provide structural analysis for the repetitive amino acid motifs in the silk proteins. The nano-crystallites are mainly alanine-rich β-sheet structures. The total percentage of crystalline region is determined to be 40.0±1.2 %. 18±1 % of alanine, 60±2 % glycine and 54±2 % serine are determined to be incorporated into helical conformations while 82±1 % of alanine, 40±3 % glycine and 46±2 % serine are in the β-sheet conformation.

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2015

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Photophysical properties and applications of fluorescent probes in studying DNA conformation and dynamics

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Fluorescence spectroscopy is a popular technique that has been particularly useful in probing biological systems, especially with the invention of single molecule fluorescence. For example, Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) is one tool that has been helpful in probing distances

Fluorescence spectroscopy is a popular technique that has been particularly useful in probing biological systems, especially with the invention of single molecule fluorescence. For example, Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) is one tool that has been helpful in probing distances and conformational changes in biomolecules. In this work, important properties necessary in the quantification of FRET were investigated while FRET was also applied to gain insight into the dynamics of biological molecules. In particular, dynamics of damaged DNA was investigated. While damages in DNA are known to affect DNA structure, what remains unclear is how the presence of a lesion, or multiple lesions, affects the flexibility of DNA, especially in relation to damage recognition by repair enzymes. DNA conformational dynamics was probed by combining FRET and fluorescence anisotropy along with biochemical assays. The focus of this work was to investigate the relationship between dynamics and enzymatic repair. In addition, to properly quantify fluorescence and FRET data, photophysical phenomena of fluorophores, such as blinking, needs to be understood. The triplet formation of the single molecule dye TAMRA and the photoisomerization yield of two different modifications of the single molecule cyanine dye Cy3 were examined spectroscopically to aid in accurate data interpretation. The combination of the biophysical and physiochemical studies illustrates how fluorescence spectroscopy can be used to answer biological questions.

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2015

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DNA directed self-assembly of plasmonic nanoparticles

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Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a biopolymer well known for its role in preserving genetic information in biology, is now drawing great deal of interest from material scientists. Ease of synthesis, predictable molecular recognition via Watson-Crick base pairing, vast numbers of available

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a biopolymer well known for its role in preserving genetic information in biology, is now drawing great deal of interest from material scientists. Ease of synthesis, predictable molecular recognition via Watson-Crick base pairing, vast numbers of available chemical modifications, and intrinsic nanoscale size makes DNA a suitable material for the construction of a plethora of nanostructures that can be used as scaffold to organize functional molecules with nanometer precision. This dissertation focuses on DNA-directed organization of metallic nanoparticles into well-defined, discrete structures and using them to study photonic interaction between fluorophore and metal particle. Presented here are a series of studies toward this goal. First, a novel and robust strategy of DNA functionalized silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) was developed and DNA functionalized AgNPs were employed for the organization of discrete well-defined dimeric and trimeric structures using a DNA triangular origami scaffold. Assembly of 1:1 silver nanoparticle and gold nanoparticle heterodimer has also been demonstrated using the same approach. Next, the triangular origami structures were used to co-assemble gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and fluorophores to study the distance dependent and nanogap dependencies of the photonic interactions between them. These interactions were found to be consistent with the full electrodynamic simulations. Further, a gold nanorod (AuNR), an anisotropic nanoparticle was assembled into well-defined dimeric structures with predefined inter-rod angles. These dimeric structures exhibited unique optical properties compared to single AuNR that was consistent with the theoretical calculations. Fabrication of otherwise difficult to achieve 1:1 AuNP- AuNR hetero dimer, where the AuNP can be selectively placed at the end-on or side-on positions of anisotropic AuNR has also been shown. Finally, a click chemistry based approach was developed to organize sugar modified DNA on a particular arm of a DNA origami triangle and used them for site-selective immobilization of small AgNPs.

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Date Created
2012

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Photophysics of symmetric and asymmetric cyanines in solution and conjugated to biomolecules

Description

Fluorescence spectroscopy is a powerful tool for biophysical studies due to its high sensitivity and broad availability. It is possible to detect fluorescence from single molecules allowing researchers to see the behavior of subpopulations whose presence is obscured by

Fluorescence spectroscopy is a powerful tool for biophysical studies due to its high sensitivity and broad availability. It is possible to detect fluorescence from single molecules allowing researchers to see the behavior of subpopulations whose presence is obscured by “bulk” collection methods. The fluorescent probes used in these experiments are affected by the solution and macromolecular environments they are in. A misunderstanding of a probe’s photophysics can lead researchers to assign observed behavior to biomolecules, when in fact the probe is responsible. On the other hand, a probe’s photophysical behavior is a signature of the environment surrounding it; it can be exploited to learn about the biomolecule(s) under study. A thorough examination of a probe’s photophysics is critical to data interpretation in both cases and is the focus of this work. This dissertation investigates the photophysical behavior of symmetric and asymmetric cyanines in a variety of solution and biomolecular environments. Using fluorescent techniques—such as time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS)—it was found that cyanines are influenced by the local environment. In the first project, the symmetric cyanines are found to be susceptible to paramagnetic species, such as manganese(II), that enhance the intersystem crossing (ISC) rate increasing triplet blinking and accelerating photobleaching. Another project found the increase in fluorescence of Cy3 in the protein induced fluorescence enhancement (PIFE) technique is due to reduced photoisomerization caused by the proximity of protein to Cy3. The third project focused on asymmetric cyanines; their photophysical behavior has not been previously characterized. Dy630 as a free dye behaves like Cy3; it has a short lifetime and can deactivate via photoisomerization. Preliminary experiments on Dy dyes conjugated to DNA show these dyes do not photoisomerize, and do not show PIFE potential. Further research will explore other conjugation strategies, with the goal of optimizing conditions in which Dy630 can be used as the red-absorbing analogue of Cy3 for PIFE applications. In summary, this dissertation focused on photophysical investigations, the understanding of which forms the backbone of rigorous fluorescent studies and is vital to the development of the fluorescence field.

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2017

Membrane Protein Mimetic Dynamic DNA Nanostructures for Biosensing Applications

Description

Membrane proteins act as sensors, gatekeepers and information carriers in the cell membranes. Functional engineering of these proteins is important for the development of molecular tools for biosensing, therapeutics and as components of artificial cells. However, using protein engineering to

Membrane proteins act as sensors, gatekeepers and information carriers in the cell membranes. Functional engineering of these proteins is important for the development of molecular tools for biosensing, therapeutics and as components of artificial cells. However, using protein engineering to modify existing protein structures is challenging due to the limitations of structural changes and difficulty in folding polypeptides into defined protein structures. Recent studies have shown that nanoscale architectures created by DNA nanotechnology can be used to mimic various protein functions, including some membrane proteins. However, mimicking the highly sophisticated structural dynamics of membrane proteins by DNA nanostructures is still in its infancy, mainly due to lack of transmembrane DNA nanostructures that can mimic the dynamic behavior, ubiquitous to membrane proteins. Here, I demonstrate design of dynamic DNA nanostructures to mimic two important class of membrane proteins. First, I describe a DNA nanostructure that inserts through lipid membrane and dynamically reconfigures upon sensing a membrane-enclosed DNA or RNA target, thereby transducing biomolecular information across the lipid membrane similar to G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR’s). I use the non-destructive sensing property of our GPCR-mimetic nanodevice to sense cancer associated micro-RNA biomarkers inside exosomes without the need of RNA extraction and amplification. Second, I demonstrate a fully reversibly gated DNA nanopore that mimics the ligand mediated gating of ion channel proteins. The 20.4 X 20.4 nm-wide channel of the DNA nanopore allows timed delivery of folded proteins across synthetic and biological membranes. These studies represent early examples of dynamic DNA nanostructures in mimicking membrane protein functions. I envision that they will be used in synthetic biology to create artificial cells containing GPCR-like and ion channel-like receptors, in site-specific drug or vaccine delivery and highly sensitive biosensing applications.

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2021