Matching Items (47)

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A Mathematical Model of Cell Confluency In Vitro

Description

Cellular and molecular biologists often perform cellular assays to obtain a better understanding of how cells work. However, in order to obtain a measurable response by the end of an

Cellular and molecular biologists often perform cellular assays to obtain a better understanding of how cells work. However, in order to obtain a measurable response by the end of an experiment, the cells must reach an ideal cell confluency. Prior to conducting the cellular assays, range-finding experiments need to be conducted to determine an initial plating density that will result in this ideal confluency, which can be costly. To help alleviate this common issue, a mathematical model was developed that describes the dynamics of the cell population used in these experiments. To develop the model, images of cells from different three-day experiments were analyzed in Photoshop®, giving a measure of cell count and confluency (the percentage of surface area covered by cells). The cell count data were then fitted into an exponential growth model and were correlated to the cell confluency to obtain a relationship between the two. The resulting mathematical model was then evaluated with data from an independent experiment. Overall, the exponential growth model provided a reasonable and robust prediction of the cell confluency, though improvements to the model can be made with a larger dataset. The approach used to develop this model can be adapted to generate similar models of different cell-lines, which will reduce the number of preliminary range-finding experiments. Reducing the number of these preliminary experiments can save valuable time and experimental resources needed to conduct studies using cellular assays.

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  • 2020-05

Transcriptomic and Cellular Studies of Tail Regeneration in Saurian Reptiles

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Traumatic injury to the central nervous or musculoskeletal system in traditional amniote models, such as mouse and chicken, is permanent with long-term physiological and functional effects. However, among amniotes, the

Traumatic injury to the central nervous or musculoskeletal system in traditional amniote models, such as mouse and chicken, is permanent with long-term physiological and functional effects. However, among amniotes, the ability to regrow complex, multi-tissue structures is unique to non-avian reptiles. Structural regeneration is extensively studied in lizards, with most species able to regrow a functional tail. The lizard regenerated tail includes the spinal cord, cartilage, de novo muscle, vasculature, and skin, and unlike mammals, these tissues can be replaced in lizards as adults. These studies focus on the events that occur before and after the tail regrowth phase, identifying conserved mechanisms that enable functional tail regeneration in the green anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis. An examination of coordinated interactions between peripheral nerves, Schwann cells, and skeletal muscle reveal that reformation of the lizard neuromuscular system is dependent upon developmental programs as well as those unique to the adult during late stages of regeneration. On the other hand, transcriptomic analysis of the early injury response identified many immunoregulatory genes that may be essential for inhibiting fibrosis and initiating regenerative programs. Lastly, an anatomical and histological study of regrown alligator tails reveal that regenerative capacity varies between different reptile groups, providing comparative opportunities within amniotes and across vertebrates. In order to identify mechanisms that limit regeneration, these cross-species analyses will be critical. Taken together, these studies serve as a foundation for future experimental work that will reveal the interplay between reparative and regenerative mechanisms in adult amniotes with translational implications for medical therapies.

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  • 2020

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Evaluation of an Organic Mineral Complex on the Development of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Following a 10-week High-Fat Diet

Description

According to the World Health Organization, obesity has nearly tripled since 1975 and forty-one million children under the age of 5 are overweight or obese (World Health Organization, 2018). Exercise

According to the World Health Organization, obesity has nearly tripled since 1975 and forty-one million children under the age of 5 are overweight or obese (World Health Organization, 2018). Exercise is a potential intervention to prevent obesity-induced cardiovascular complications as exercise training has been shown to aid nitric oxide (NO) production as well as preserving endothelial function in obese mice (Silva et al., 2016). A soil-derived organic mineral compound (OMC) has been shown to lower blood sugar in diabetic mice (Deneau et al., 2011). Prior research has shown that, while OMC did not prevent high fat diet (HFD)-induced increases in body fat in male Sprague-Dawley rats, it was effective at preventing HFD-induced impaired vasodilation (M. S. Crawford et al., 2019). Six-weeks of HFD has been shown to impair vasodilation through oxidative-stress mediated scavenging of NO as well as upregulation of inflammatory pathways including inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase (Karen L. Sweazea et al., 2010). Therefore, the aim of the present study was to determine whether OMC alters protein expression of iNOS and endothelial NOS (eNOS) in the vasculature of rats fed a control or HFD with and without OMC supplementation. Six-week old male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed either a standard chow diet (CHOW) or a HFD composed of 60% kcal from fat for 10 weeks. The rats were administered OMC at doses of 0 mg/mL (control), 0.6 mg/mL, or 3.0 mg/mL added to their drinking water. Following euthanasia with sodium pentobarbital (200 mg/kg, i.p.), mesenteric arteries and the surrounding perivascular adipose tissue were isolated and prepared for Western Blot analyses. Mesenteric arteries from HFD rats had more uncoupled eNOS (p = 0.006) and iNOS protein expression (p = 0.027) than rats fed the control diet. OMC was not effective at preventing the uncoupling of eNOS or increase in iNOS induced by HFD. Perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) showed no significant difference in iNOS protein expression between diet or OMC treatment groups. These findings suggest that OMC is not likely working through the iNOS or eNOS pathways to improve vasodilation in these rats, but rather, appears to be working through another mechanism.

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  • 2020

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Mechanics of cancer cells in 3D microenvironments

Description

Mechanical properties (e.g. deformability or stiffness) are critical to a cancer cell's ability to maneuver through and exert forces upon the extracellular matrix, and thus affect its ability to metastasize.

Mechanical properties (e.g. deformability or stiffness) are critical to a cancer cell's ability to maneuver through and exert forces upon the extracellular matrix, and thus affect its ability to metastasize. §3.1 introduces the experimental method combining atomic force microscope (AFM) based indentation and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). §3.2 presents a method combining AFM and confocal microscopy (AFM stiffness nanotomography), and results on normal and pre-cancerous esophageal cells which indicate that even in the earliest stages, cancer cells exhibit increased deformability. §3.3 presents experimental results on weakly metastatic breast cancer cells that compare well with values obtained from other experimental methods and demonstrates that the mechanical response of cells to sharp and mesoscale probes differ significantly. §3.4 presents experimental results indicating that metastatic breast cancer cells are more deformable than normal counterparts, and demonstrates that indentation measurements with sharp probes are capable of identifying mechanical differences between cytoplasmic, nuclear and nucleolar regions of the cell. §3.5 presents results on weakly metastatic breast cancer cells sensitive and resistant to tamoxifen (an estrogen antagonist), and demonstrate that estrogen has a significant effect on cell stiffness. §3.6 applies stiffness nanotomography to study metastatic breast cancer cells allowed to invade 3D collagen gels, demonstrating the ability to use AFM indentation on heterogeneous samples, and shows that cell stiffness increases during the invasion process for partially and fully embedded metastatic breast cancer cells.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Characterization of small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT)

Description

Small Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary Hypercalcemic Type (SCCOHT) is a rare and highly aggressive ovarian cancer that affects children and young women at a mean age of 24 years.

Small Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary Hypercalcemic Type (SCCOHT) is a rare and highly aggressive ovarian cancer that affects children and young women at a mean age of 24 years. Most SCCOHT patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage and do not respond to chemotherapy. As a result, more than 75% of patients succumb to their disease within 1-2 years. To provide insights into the biological, diagnostic, and therapeutic vulnerabilities of this deadly cancer, a comprehensive characterization of 22 SCCOHT cases and 2 SCCOHT cell lines using microarray and next-generation sequencing technologies was performed. Following histological examination, tumor DNA and RNA were extracted and used for array comparative genomic hybridization and gene expression microarray analyses. In agreement with previous reports, SCCOHT presented consistently diploid profiles with few copy number aberrations. Gene expression analysis showed SCCOHT tumors have a unique gene expression profile unlike that of most common epithelial ovarian carcinomas. Dysregulated cell cycle control, DNA repair, DNA damage-response, nucleosome assembly, neurogenesis and nervous system development were all characteristic of SCCOHT tumors. Sequencing of DNA from SCCOHT patients and cell lines revealed germline and somatic inactivating mutations in the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling gene SMARCA4 in 79% (19/24) of SCCOHT patients in addition to SMARCA4 protein loss in 84% (16/19) of SCCOHT tumors, but in only 0.4% (2/485) of other primary ovarian tumors. Ongoing studies are now focusing on identifying treatments for SCCOHT based on therapeutic vulnerabilities conferred by ubiquitous inactivating mutations in SMARCA4 in addition to gene and protein expression data. Our characterization of the molecular landscape of SCCOHT and the breakthrough identification of inactivating SMARCA4 mutations in almost all cases of SCCOHT offers the first significant insight into the molecular pathogenesis of this disease. The loss of SMARCA4 protein is a highly sensitive and specific marker of the disease, highlighting its potential role as a diagnostic marker, and offers the opportunity for genetic testing of family members at risk. Outstanding questions remain about the role of SMARCA4 loss in the biology, histogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of SCCOHT.

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  • 2014

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The dissection of signaling cascades in neural stem cell proliferation & GBM promotion

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Cells live in complex environments and must be able to adapt to environmental changes in order to survive. The ability of a cell to survive and thrive in a changing

Cells live in complex environments and must be able to adapt to environmental changes in order to survive. The ability of a cell to survive and thrive in a changing environment depends largely on its ability to receive and respond to extracellular signals. Initiating with receptors, signal transduction cascades begin translating extracellular signals into intracellular messages. Such signaling cascades are responsible for the regulation of cellular metabolism, cell growth, cell movement, transcription, translation, proliferation and differentiation. This dissertation seeks to dissect and examine critical signaling pathways involved in the regulation of proliferation in neural stem cells (Chapter 2) and the regulation of Glioblastoma Multiforme pathogenesis (GBM; Chapter 3). In Chapter 2 of this dissertation, we hypothesize that the mTOR signaling pathway plays a significant role in the determination of neural stem cell proliferation given its control of cell growth, metabolism and survival. We describe the effect of inhibition of mTOR signaling on neural stem cell proliferation using animal models of aging. Our results show that the molecular method of targeted inhibition may result in differential effects on neural stem cell proliferation as the use of rapamycin significantly reduced proliferation while the use of metformin did not. Abnormal signaling cascades resulting in unrestricted proliferation may lead to the development of brain cancer, such as GBM. In Chapter 3 of this dissertation, we hypothesize that the inhibition of the protein kinase, aPKCλ results in halted GBM progression (invasion and proliferation) due to its central location in multiple signaling cascades. Using in-vitro and in-vivo models, we show that aPKCλ functions as a critical node in GBM signaling as both cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous signaling converge on aPKCλ resulting in pathogenic downstream effects. This dissertation aims to uncover the molecular mechanisms involved in cell signaling pathways which are responsible for critical cellular effects such as proliferation, invasion and transcriptional regulation.

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  • 2014

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Genome-driven targeted cancer therapy

Description

Cancer is a heterogeneous disease with discrete oncogenic mechanisms. P53 mutation is the most common oncogenic mutation in many cancers including breast cancer. This dissertation focuses on fundamental genetic alterations

Cancer is a heterogeneous disease with discrete oncogenic mechanisms. P53 mutation is the most common oncogenic mutation in many cancers including breast cancer. This dissertation focuses on fundamental genetic alterations enforced by p53 mutation as an indirect target. p53 mutation upregulates the mevalonate pathway genes altering cholesterol biosynthesis and prenylation. Prenylation, a lipid modification, is required for small GTPases signaling cascades. Project 1 demonstrates that prenylation inhibition can specifically target cells harboring p53 mutation resulting in reduced tumor proliferation and migration. Mutating p53 is associated with Ras and RhoA activation and statin prevents this activity by inhibiting prenylation. Ras-related pathway genes were selected from the transcriptomic analysis for evaluating correlation to statin sensitivity. A gene signature of seventeen genes and TP53 genotype (referred to as MPR signature) is generated to predict response to statins. MPR signature is validated through two datasets of drug screening in cell lines. As advancements in targeted gene modification are rising, the CRISPR-Cas9 technology has emerged as a new cancer therapeutic strategy. One of the important risk factors in gene therapy is the immune recognition of the exogenous therapeutic tool, resulting in obstruction of treatment and possibly serious health consequences. Project 2 describes a method development that can potentially improve the safety and efficacy of gene-targeting proteins. A cohort of 155 healthy individuals was screened for pre-existing B cell and T cell immune response to the S. pyogenes Cas9 protein. We detected antibodies against Cas9 in more than 10% of the healthy population and identified two immunodominant T cell epitopes of this protein. A de-immunized Cas9 that maintains the wild-type functionality was engineered by mutating the identified T cell epitopes. The gene signature and method described here have the potential to improve strategies for genome-driven tumor targeting.

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  • 2017

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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

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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  • 2020

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Developing a CRISPR-Mediated Knockout TCR Human T Cell Line for Use in Cloning Antigen-Specific T Cell Receptors

Description

Adoptive transfer of T cells engineered to express synthetic antigen-specific T cell receptors (TCRs) has provocative therapeutic applications for treating cancer. However, expressing these synthetic TCRs in a CD4+ T

Adoptive transfer of T cells engineered to express synthetic antigen-specific T cell receptors (TCRs) has provocative therapeutic applications for treating cancer. However, expressing these synthetic TCRs in a CD4+ T cell line is a challenge. The CD4+ Jurkat T cell line expresses endogenous TCRs that compete for space, accessory proteins, and proliferative signaling, and there is the potential for mixed dimer formation between the α and β chains of the endogenous receptor and that of the synthetic cancer-specific TCRs. To prevent hybridization between the receptors and to ensure the binding affinity measured with flow cytometry analysis is between the tetramer and the TCR construct, a CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing pipeline was developed. The guide RNAs (gRNAs) within the complex were designed to target the constant region of the α and β chains, as they are conserved between TCR clonotypes. To minimize further interference and confer cytotoxic capabilities, gRNAs were designed to target the CD4 coreceptor, and the CD8 coreceptor was delivered in a mammalian expression vector. Further, Golden Gate cloning methods were validated in integrating the gRNAs into a CRISPR-compatible mammalian expression vector. These constructs were transfected via electroporation into CD4+ Jurkat T cells to create a CD8+ knockout TCR Jurkat cell line for broadly applicable uses in T cell immunotherapies.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Identifying and Characterizing Type 1 and Type 2 Eosinophil Subtypes

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Eosinophils are innate immune cells that are most commonly associated with parasite infection and allergic responses. Recent studies, though, have identified eosinophils as cells with diverse effector functions at baseline

Eosinophils are innate immune cells that are most commonly associated with parasite infection and allergic responses. Recent studies, though, have identified eosinophils as cells with diverse effector functions at baseline and in disease. Eosinophils in specific tissue immune environments are proposed to promote unique and specific effector functions, suggesting these cells have the capacity to differentiate into unique subtypes. The studies here focus on defining these subtypes using functional, molecular, and genetic analysis as well as using novel techniques to image these subtypes in situ.

To characterized these subtypes, an in vitro cytokine induced type 1 (E1) and type 2 (E2) eosinophil model was developed that display features and functions of eosinophils found in vivo. For example, E1 eosinophils secrete type 1 mediators (e.g., IL-12, CXCL9 and CXCL10), express iNOS and express increased levels of the surface molecules PDL1 and MHC-I. Conversely, E2 eosinophils release type 2 mediators (e.g., IL4, IL13, CCL17, and CCL22), degranulate and express increased surface molecules CD11b, ST2 and Siglec-F. Completion of differential expression analysis of RNAseq on these subtypes revealed 500 and 655 unique genes were upregulated in E1 and E2 eosinophils, respectively. Functional enrichment studies showed interferon regulatory factor (IRF) transcription factors were uniquely regulated in both mouse and human E1 and E2 eosinophils. These subtypes are sensitive to their environment, modulating their IRF and cell surface expression when stimulated with opposing cytokines, suggesting plasticity.

To identify and study these subtypes in situ, chromogenic and fluorescent eosinophil-specific immunostaining protocols were developed. Methods were created and optimized, here, to identify eosinophils by their granule proteins in formalin fixed mouse tissues. Yet, eosinophil-specific antibodies alone are not enough to identify and study the complex interactions eosinophil subtypes perform within a tissue. Therefore, as part of this thesis, a novel highly-multiplexed immunohistochemistry technique was developed utilizing cleavable linkers to address these concerns. This technique is capable of analyzing up to 22 markers within a single biopsy with single-cell resolution. With this approach, eosinophil subtypes can be studied in situ in routine patient biopsies.

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  • 2020