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

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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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Atomic force microscopy for chromatin structure study

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In eukaryotes, DNA is packed in a highly condensed and hierarchically organized structure called chromatin, in which DNA tightly wraps around the histone octamer consisting of one histone 3-histone 4 (H3-H4) tetramer and two histone 2A- histone 2B (H2A-H2B) dimers

In eukaryotes, DNA is packed in a highly condensed and hierarchically organized structure called chromatin, in which DNA tightly wraps around the histone octamer consisting of one histone 3-histone 4 (H3-H4) tetramer and two histone 2A- histone 2B (H2A-H2B) dimers with 147 base pairs in an almost two left handed turns. Almost all DNA dependent cellular processes, such as DNA duplication, transcription, DNA repair and recombination, take place in the chromatin form. Based on the critical importance of appropriate chromatin condensation, this thesis focused on the folding behavior of the nucleosome array reconstituted using different templates with various controllable factors such as histone tail modification, linker DNA length, and DNA binding proteins. Firstly, the folding behaviors of wild type (WT) and nucleosome arrays reconstituted with acetylation on the histone H4 at lysine 16 (H4K16 (Ac)) were studied. In contrast to the sedimentation result, atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements revealed no apparent difference in the compact nucleosome arrays between WT and H4K16 (Ac) and WT. Instead, an optimal loading of nucleosome along the template was found necessary for the Mg2+ induced nucleosome array compaction. This finding leads to the further study on the role of linker DNA in the nucleosome compaction. A method of constructing DNA templates with varied linker DNA lengths was developed, and uniformly and randomly spaced nucleosome arrays with average linker DNA lengths of 30 bp and 60 bp were constructed. After comprehensive analyses of the nucleosome arrays' structure in mica surface, the lengths of the linker DNA were found playing an important role in controlling the structural geometries of nucleosome arrays in both their extended and compact forms. In addition, higher concentration of the DNA binding domain of the telomere repeat factor 2 (TRF2) was found to stimulate the compaction of the telomeric nucleosome array. Finally, AFM was successfully applied to investigate the nucleosome positioning behaviors on the Mouse Mammary Tumor Virus (MMTV) promoter region, and two highly positioned region corresponded to nucleosome A and B were identified by this method.

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2010

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Towards single molecule DNA sequencing

Description

Single molecule DNA Sequencing technology has been a hot research topic in the recent decades because it holds the promise to sequence a human genome in a fast and affordable way, which will eventually make personalized medicine possible. Single molecule

Single molecule DNA Sequencing technology has been a hot research topic in the recent decades because it holds the promise to sequence a human genome in a fast and affordable way, which will eventually make personalized medicine possible. Single molecule differentiation and DNA translocation control are the two main challenges in all single molecule DNA sequencing methods. In this thesis, I will first introduce DNA sequencing technology development and its application, and then explain the performance and limitation of prior art in detail. Following that, I will show a single molecule DNA base differentiation result obtained in recognition tunneling experiments. Furthermore, I will explain the assembly of a nanofluidic platform for single strand DNA translocation, which holds the promised to be integrated into a single molecule DNA sequencing instrument for DNA translocation control. Taken together, my dissertation research demonstrated the potential of using recognition tunneling techniques to serve as a general readout system for single molecule DNA sequencing application.

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2013

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Mechanism of the F₁ ATPase molecular motor as revealed by single molecule studies

Description

The F1Fo ATP synthase is required for energy conversion in almost all living organisms. The F1 complex is a molecular motor that uses ATP hydrolysis to drive rotation of the γ–subunit. It has not been previously possible to resolve the

The F1Fo ATP synthase is required for energy conversion in almost all living organisms. The F1 complex is a molecular motor that uses ATP hydrolysis to drive rotation of the γ–subunit. It has not been previously possible to resolve the speed and position of the γ–subunit of the F1–ATPase as it rotates during a power stroke. The single molecule experiments presented here measured light scattered from 45X91 nm gold nanorods attached to the γ–subunit that provide an unprecedented 5 μs resolution of rotational position as a function of time. The product of velocity and drag, which were both measured directly, resulted in an average torque of 63±8 pN nm for the Escherichia coli F1-ATPase that was determined to be independent of the load. The rotational velocity had an initial (I) acceleration phase 15° from the end of the catalytic dwell, a slow (S) acceleration phase during ATP binding/ADP release (15°–60°), and a fast (F) acceleration phase (60°–90°) containing an interim deceleration (ID) phase (75°–82°). High ADP concentrations decreased the velocity of the S phase proportional to 'ADP-release' dwells, and the F phase proportional to the free energy derived from the [ADP][Pi]/[ATP] chemical equilibrium. The decreased affinity for ITP increased ITP-binding dwells by 10%, but decreased velocity by 40% during the S phase. This is the first direct evidence that nucleotide binding contributes to F1–ATPase torque. Mutations that affect specific phases of rotation were identified, some in regions of F1 previously considered not to contribute to rotation. Mutations βD372V and γK9I increased the F phase velocity, and γK9I increased the depth of the ID phase. The conversion between S and F phases was specifically affected by γQ269L. While βT273D, βD305E, and αR283Q decreased the velocity of all phases, decreases in velocity due to βD302T, γR268L and γT82A were confined to the I and S phases. The correlations between the structural locations of these mutations and the phases of rotation they affect provide new insight into the molecular basis for F1–ATPase γ-subunit rotation.

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2012

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DNA directed self-assembly of plasmonic nanoparticles

Description

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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2012

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PNA-polypeptide assembly in a 3D DNA nanocage for building artificial catalytic centers

Description

Proteins and peptides fold into dynamic structures that access a broad functional landscape, however, designing artificial polypeptide systems continues to be a great chal-lenge. Conversely, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) engineering is now routinely used to build a wide variety of two

Proteins and peptides fold into dynamic structures that access a broad functional landscape, however, designing artificial polypeptide systems continues to be a great chal-lenge. Conversely, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) engineering is now routinely used to build a wide variety of two dimensional and three dimensional (3D) nanostructures from simple hybridization based rules, and their functional diversity can be significantly ex-panded through site specific incorporation of the appropriate guest molecules. This dis-sertation describes a gentle methodology for using short (8 nucleotide) peptide nucleic acid (PNA) linkers to assemble polypeptides within a 3D DNA nanocage, as a proof of concept for constructing artificial catalytic centers. PNA-polypeptide conjugates were synthesized directly using microwave assisted solid phase synthesis or alternatively PNA linkers were conjugated to biologically expressed proteins using chemical crosslinking. The PNA-polypeptides hybridized to the preassembled DNA nanocage at room tempera-ture or 11 ⁰C and could be assembled in a stepwise fashion. Time resolved fluorescence anisotropy and gel electrophoresis were used to determine that a negatively charged az-urin protein was repelled outside of the negatively charged DNA nanocage, while a posi-tively charged cytochrome c protein was retained inside. Spectroelectrochemistry and an in-gel luminol oxidation assay demonstrated the cytochrome c protein remained active within the DNA nanocage and its redox potential decreased modestly by 10 mV due to the presence of the DNA nanocage. These results demonstrate the benign PNA assembly conditions are ideal for preserving polypeptide structure and function, and will facilitate the polypeptide-based assembly of artificial catalytic centers inside a stable DNA nanocage. A prospective application of assembling multiple cyclic γ-PNA-peptides to mimic the oxygen-evolving complex (OEC) catalytic active site from photosystem II (PSII) is described. In this way, the robust catalytic capacity of PSII could be utilized, without suffering the light-induced damage that occurs by the photoreactions within PSII via triplet state formation, which limits the efficiency of natural photosynthesis. There-fore, this strategy has the potential to revolutionize the process of designing and building robust catalysts by leveraging nature's recipes, and also providing a flexible and con-trolled artificial environment that might even improve them further towards commercial viability.

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2014

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