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Characterization of a Polyclonal Antibody Specific for Synechococcus WH8102 Plastoquinol Terminal Oxidase.

Description

Photosynthesis is a critical process that fixes the carbon utilized in cellular respiration. In higher plants, the immutans gene codes for a protein that is both involved in carotenoid biosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a critical process that fixes the carbon utilized in cellular respiration. In higher plants, the immutans gene codes for a protein that is both involved in carotenoid biosynthesis and plastoquinol oxidation (Carol et al 1999, Josse et al 2003). This plastoquinol terminal oxidase (PTOX) is of great interest in understanding electron flow in the plastoquinol pool. In order to characterize this PTOX, polyclonal antibodies were developed. Expression of Synechococcus WH8102 PTOX in E. coli provided a useful means to harvest the protein required for antibody production. Once developed, the antibody was tested for limit of concentration, effectiveness in whole cell lysate, and overall specificity. The antibody raised against PTOX was able to detect as low as 10 pg of PTOX in SDS-PAGE, and could detect PTOX extracted from lysed Synechococcus WH8102. The production of this antibody could determine the localization of the PTOX in Synechococcus.

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  • 2014-05

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Investigating Type II Inhibitor Effects in the Heliobacterial Reaction Center

Description

The Heliobacterial Reaction Center (HbRC) is the simplest Type I Reaction Center (RC) known today. However, upon illumination it has been found to produce menaquinol, and this has led to

The Heliobacterial Reaction Center (HbRC) is the simplest Type I Reaction Center (RC) known today. However, upon illumination it has been found to produce menaquinol, and this has led to experiments investigating the function of this reduction scheme. The goal of the experiment was to investigate the mechanisms of menaquinol production through the use of Photosystem II (PSII) herbicides that are known to inhibit the QB quinone site in Type II RCs. Seven herbicides were chosen, and out of all of them terbuthylazine showed the greatest effect on the RC in isolated membranes when Transient Absorption Spectroscopy was used. In addition, terbuthylazine decreased menaquinone reduction to menaquinol by ~72%, slightly more than the reported effect of teburtryn (68%)1. In addition, terbuthylazine significantly impacted growth of whole cells under high light more than terbutryn.

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  • 2019-05

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Structural Analysis of the Spinach Rubisco Activase AAA+ Domain by Negative Stain Electron Microscopy

Description

Higher plant Rubisco activase (Rca) is a stromal ATPase responsible for reactivating Rubisco. It is a member of the AAA+ protein superfamily and is thought to assemble into closed-ring hexamers

Higher plant Rubisco activase (Rca) is a stromal ATPase responsible for reactivating Rubisco. It is a member of the AAA+ protein superfamily and is thought to assemble into closed-ring hexamers like other AAA+ proteins belonging to the classic clade. Progress towards modeling the interaction between Rca and Rubisco has been slow due to limited structural information on Rca. Previous efforts in the lab were directed towards solving the structure of spinach short-form Rca using X-ray crystallography, given that it had notably high thermostability in the presence of ATP-γS, an ATP analog. However, due to disorder within the crystal lattice, an atomic resolution structure could not be obtained, prompting us to move to negative stain electron microscopy (EM), with our long-term goal being the use of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) for atomic resolution structure determination. Thus far, we have screened different Rca constructs in the presence of ATP-γS, both the full-length β-isoform and truncations containing only the AAA+ domain. Images collected on preparations of the full-length protein were amorphous, whereas images of the AAA+ domain showed well-defined ring-like assemblies under some conditions. Procedural adjustments, such as the use of previously frozen protein samples, rapid dilution, and minimizing thawing time were shown to improve complex assembly. The presence of Mn2+ was also found to improve hexamer formation over Mg2+. Calculated class averages of the AAA+ Rca construct in the presence of ATP-γS indicated a lack of homogeneity in the assemblies, showing both symmetric and asymmetric hexameric rings. To improve structural homogeneity, we tested buffer conditions containing either ADP alone or different ratios of ATP-γS to ADP, though results did not show a significant improvement in homogeneity. Multiple AAA+ domain preparations were evaluated. Because uniform protein assembly is a major requirement for structure solution by cryo-EM, more work needs to be done on screening biochemical conditions to optimize homogeneity.

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  • 2018-05

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Assessing Light Use Efficiencies (LUEs) Of Benthic Reef Communities For Spectral Modeling Applications

Description

Coral reefs are diverse marine ecosystems, where reef building corals provide both the structure of the habitat as well as the primary production through their symbiotic algae, and alongside algae

Coral reefs are diverse marine ecosystems, where reef building corals provide both the structure of the habitat as well as the primary production through their symbiotic algae, and alongside algae living on the reef itself, are the basis of the food web of the reef. In this way, coral reefs are the ocean's "forests" and are estimated to support 25% of all marine species. However, due to the large size of a coral reef, the relative inaccessibility and the reliance on in situ surveying methods, our current understanding of reefs is spatially limited. Understanding coral reefs from a more spatially complete perspective will offer insight into the ecological factors that contribute to coral reef vitality. This has become a priority in recent years due to the rapid decline of coral reefs caused by mass bleaching. Despite this urgency, being able to assess the entirety of a coral reef is physically difficult and this obstacle has not yet been overcome. However, similar difficulties have been addressed in terrestrial ecosystems by using remote sensing methods, which apply hyperspectral imaging to assess large areas of primary producers at high spatial resolutions. Adapting this method of remote spectral sensing to assess coral reefs has been suggested, but in order to quantify primary production via hyper spectral imaging, light-use efficiencies (LUEs) of coral reef communities need to be known. LUEs are estimations of the rate of carbon fixation compared to incident absorbed light. Here, I experimentally determine LUEs and report on several parameters related to LUE, namely net productivity, respiration, and light absorbance for the main primary producers in coral reefs surrounding Bermuda, which consist of algae and coral communities. The derived LUE values fall within typical ranges for LUEs of terrestrial ecosystems, with LUE values for coral averaging 0.022 ± 0.002 mol O2 mol photons-1 day-1 at a water flow rate of 17.5 ± 2 cm s^(-1) and 0.049 ± 0.011 mol O2 mol photons-1 day-1 at a flow rate of 32 ± 4 cm s^(-1) LUE values for algae averaged 0.0335 ± 0.0048 mol O2 mol photons-1 day-1 at a flow rate of 17.5 ± 2 cm s^(-1). These values allow insight into coral reef productivity and opens the door for future remote sensing applications.

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  • 2019-05

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Knocking out the cytochrome bc complex in Heliobacterium modesticaldum

Description

The heliobacteria, a family of anoxygenic phototrophs, are significant to photosynthesis evolution research, as they possess the simplest known photosynthetic apparatus. Although they are photoheterotrophs in the light, the heliobacteria

The heliobacteria, a family of anoxygenic phototrophs, are significant to photosynthesis evolution research, as they possess the simplest known photosynthetic apparatus. Although they are photoheterotrophs in the light, the heliobacteria may also grow chemotrophically via pyruvate metabolism in the absence of light. In Heliobacterium modesticaldum, the cytochrome bc complex is responsible for oxidizing menaquinol and reducing cytochrome c553 in the electron flow cycle used for phototrophy. However, there is no known electron acceptor for cytochrome c553 other than the photosynthetic reaction center. Therefore, it was hypothesized that the cytochrome bc complex is necessary for phototrophy, but unnecessary for chemotrophic growth in the dark. Under this hypothesis, a mutant of H. modesticaldum lacking the cytochrome bc complex was predicted to be viable, but non-phototrophic. In this project, a two-step method for CRISPR-based genome editing was used in H. modesticaldum to delete the genes encoding the cytochrome bc complex. Genotypic analysis verified the deletion of the petC, B, D, and A genes encoding the catalytic components of complex. Spectroscopic studies revealed that re-reduction of cytochrome c553 after flash-induced photo-oxidation was ~130 to 190 times slower in the ∆petCBDA mutant compared to wildtype, phenotypically confirming the removal of the cytochrome bc complex. The resulting ∆petCBDA mutant was unable to grow phototrophically, instead relying on pyruvate metabolism to grow chemotrophically as does wildtype in the dark.

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  • 2020-05

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Engineered Hydrogen Production in Heliobacteria using Clostridial Hydrogenase: A Probe for Understanding Cell Physiology

Description

Heliobacteria are an anaerobic phototroph that require carbon sources such as pyruvate, <br/>lactate, or acetate for growth (Sattley, et. al. 2008). They are known for having one of the <br/>simplest

Heliobacteria are an anaerobic phototroph that require carbon sources such as pyruvate, <br/>lactate, or acetate for growth (Sattley, et. al. 2008). They are known for having one of the <br/>simplest phototrophic systems, the central component of which is a Type I reaction center (RC) <br/>that pumps protons to generate the electrochemical gradient for making ATP. Heliobacteria <br/>preform cyclic electron flow (CEF) with the RC in the light but can also grow chemotropically in <br/>the dark. Many anaerobes like heliobacteria, such as other members of the class Clostridia, <br/>possess the capability to produce hydrogen via a hydrogenase enzyme in the cell, as protons can <br/>serve as an electron acceptor in anaerobic metabolism. However, the species of heliobacteria <br/>studied here, H. modesticaldum have been seen to produce hydrogen via their nitrogenase <br/>enzyme but not when this enzyme is inactive. This study aimed to investigate if the reason for <br/>their lack of hydrogen production was due to a lack of an active hydrogenase enzyme, possibly <br/>indicating that the genes required for activity were lost by an H. modesticaldum ancestor. This <br/>was done by introducing genes encoding a clostridial [FeFe] hydrogenase from C. thermocellum<br/>via conjugation and measuring hydrogen production in the transformant cells. Transformant cells <br/>produced hydrogen and cells without the genes did not, meaning that the heliobacteria ferredoxin <br/>was capable of donating electrons to the foreign hydrogenase to make hydrogen. Because the <br/>[FeFe] hydrogenase must receive electrons from the cytosolic ferredoxin, it was hypothesized <br/>that hydrogen production in heliobacteria could be used to probe the redox state of the ferredoxin <br/>pool in conditions of varying electron availability. Results of this study showed that hydrogen <br/>production was affected by electron availability variations due to varying pyruvate <br/>concentrations in the media, light vs dark environment, use acetate as a carbon source, and being <br/>provided external electron donors. Hydrogen production, therefore, was predicted to be an <br/>effective indicator of electron availability in the reduced ferredoxin pool.

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  • 2021-05

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Genome sequencing and analysis of the psychrophilic anoxygenic phototrophic bacterium Rhodoferax antarcticus sp. ANT.BR

Description

Rhodoferax antarcticus strain ANT.BR, a purple nonsulfur bacterium isolated from a microbial mat in Ross Island, Antarctica, is the first described anoxygenic phototrophic bacterium that is adapted to cold habitats

Rhodoferax antarcticus strain ANT.BR, a purple nonsulfur bacterium isolated from a microbial mat in Ross Island, Antarctica, is the first described anoxygenic phototrophic bacterium that is adapted to cold habitats and is the first beta-proteobacterium to undergo complete genome sequencing. R. antarcticus has unique absorption spectra and there are no obvious intracytoplasmic membranes in cells grown phototrophically, even under low light intensity. Analysis of the finished genome sequence reveals a single chromosome (3,809,266 bp) and a large plasmid (198,615 bp) that together harbor 4,262 putative genes. The genome contains two types of Rubiscos, Form IAq and Form II, which are known to exhibit quite different kinetic properties in other bacteria. The presence of multiple Rubisco forms could give R. antarcticus high metabolic flexibility in diverse environments. Annotation of the complete genome sequence along with previous experimental results predict the presence of structural genes for three types of light-harvesting (LH) complexes, LH I (B875), LH II (B800/850), and LH III (B800/820). There is evidence that expression of genes for the LH II complex might be inhibited when R. antarcticus is under low temperature and/or low light intensity. These interesting condition-dependent light-harvesting apparatuses and the control of their expression are very valuable for the further understanding of photosynthesis in cold environments. Finally, R. antarcticus exhibits a highly motile lifestyle. The genome content and organization of all putative polar flagella genes are characterized and discussed.

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  • 2011

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Towards biohybrid artificial photosynthesis

Description

A vast amount of energy emanates from the sun, and at the distance of Earth, approximately 172,500 TW reaches the atmosphere. Of that, 80,600 TW reaches the surface with 15,600

A vast amount of energy emanates from the sun, and at the distance of Earth, approximately 172,500 TW reaches the atmosphere. Of that, 80,600 TW reaches the surface with 15,600 TW falling on land. Photosynthesis converts 156 TW in the form of biomass, which represents all food/fuel for the biosphere with about 20 TW of the total product used by humans. Additionally, our society uses approximately 20 more TW of energy from ancient photosynthetic products i.e. fossil fuels. In order to mitigate climate problems, the carbon dioxide must be removed from the human energy usage by replacement or recycling as an energy carrier. Proposals have been made to process biomass into biofuels; this work demonstrates that current efficiencies of natural photosynthesis are inadequate for this purpose, the effects of fossil fuel replacement with biofuels is ecologically irresponsible, and new technologies are required to operate at sufficient efficiencies to utilize artificial solar-to-fuels systems. Herein a hybrid bioderived self-assembling hydrogen-evolving nanoparticle consisting of photosystem I (PSI) and platinum nanoclusters is demonstrated to operate with an overall efficiency of 6%, which exceeds that of land plants by more than an order of magnitude. The system was limited by the rate of electron donation to photooxidized PSI. Further work investigated the interactions of natural donor acceptor pairs of cytochrome c6 and PSI for the thermophilic cyanobacteria Thermosynechococcus elogantus BP1 and the red alga Galderia sulphuraria. The cyanobacterial system is typified by collisional control while the algal system demonstrates a population of prebound PSI-cytochrome c6 complexes with faster electron transfer rates. Combining the stability of cyanobacterial PSI and kinetics of the algal PSI:cytochrome would result in more efficient solar-to-fuel conversion. A second priority is the replacement of platinum with chemically abundant catalysts. In this work, protein scaffolds are employed using host-guest strategies to increase the stability of proton reduction catalysts and enhance the turnover number without the oxygen sensitivity of hydrogenases. Finally, design of unnatural electron transfer proteins are explored and may introduce a bioorthogonal method of introducing alternative electron transfer pathways in vitro or in vivo in the case of engineered photosynthetic organisms.

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  • 2014

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Method development in crystallization for femtosecond nanocrystallography

Description

Membrane proteins are a vital part of cellular structure. They are directly involved in many important cellular functions, such as uptake, signaling, respiration, and photosynthesis, among others. Despite their importance,

Membrane proteins are a vital part of cellular structure. They are directly involved in many important cellular functions, such as uptake, signaling, respiration, and photosynthesis, among others. Despite their importance, however, less than 500 unique membrane protein structures have been determined to date. This is due to several difficulties with macromolecular crystallography, primarily the difficulty of growing large, well-ordered protein crystals. Since the first proof of concept for femtosecond nanocrystallography showing that diffraction patterns can be collected on extremely small crystals, thus negating the need to grow larger crystals, there have been many exciting advancements in the field. The technique has been proven to show high spatial resolution, thus making it a viable method for structural biology. However, due to the ultrafast nature of the technique, which allows for a lack of radiation damage in imaging, even more interesting experiments are possible, and the first temporal and spatial images of an undamaged structure could be acquired. This concept was denoted as time-resolved femtosecond nanocrystallography.

This dissertation presents on the first time-resolved data set of Photosystem II where structural changes can actually be seen without radiation damage. In order to accomplish this, new crystallization techniques had to be developed so that enough crystals could be made for the liquid jet to deliver a fully hydrated stream of crystals to the high-powered X-ray source. These changes are still in the preliminary stages due to the slightly lower resolution data obtained, but they are still a promising show of the power of this new technique. With further optimization of crystal growth methods and quality, injection technique, and continued development of data analysis software, it is only a matter of time before the ability to make movies of molecules in motion from X-ray diffraction snapshots in time exists. The work presented here is the first step in that process.

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  • 2014

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Characterization of the electron acceptors of the type-I photosynthetic reaction center of Heliobacterium modesticaldum

Description

The heliobacterial reaction center (HbRC) is widely considered the simplest and most primitive photosynthetic reaction center (RC) still in existence. Despite the simplicity of the HbRC, many aspects of the

The heliobacterial reaction center (HbRC) is widely considered the simplest and most primitive photosynthetic reaction center (RC) still in existence. Despite the simplicity of the HbRC, many aspects of the electron transfer mechanism remain unknown or under debate. Improving our understanding of the structure and function of the HbRC is important in determining its role in the evolution of photosynthetic RCs. In this work, the function and properties of the iron-sulfur cluster FX and quinones of the HbRC were investigated, as these are the characteristic terminal electron acceptors used by Type-I and Type-II RCs, respectively. In Chapter 3, I develop a system to directly detect quinone double reduction activity using reverse-phase high pressure liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC), showing that Photosystem I (PSI) can reduce PQ to PQH2. In Chapter 4, I use RP-HPLC to characterize the HbRC, showing a surprisingly small antenna size and confirming the presence of menaquinone (MQ) in the isolated HbRC. The terminal electron acceptor FX was characterized spectroscopically and electrochemically in Chapter 5. I used three new systems to reduce FX in the HbRC, using EPR to confirm a S=3/2 ground-state for the reduced cluster. The midpoint potential of FX determined through thin film voltammetry was -372 mV, showing the cluster is much less reducing than previously expected. In Chapter 7, I show light-driven reduction of menaquinone in heliobacterial membrane samples using only mild chemical reductants. Finally, I discuss the evolutionary implications of these findings in Chapter 7.

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  • 2012