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Immunological Responses to the White-Nose Syndrome Pathogen and their Potential Use as Control

Description

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal infection devastating bat populations throughout eastern North America. WNS is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of hibernating bats. While there are a number of treatments being researched, there

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal infection devastating bat populations throughout eastern North America. WNS is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of hibernating bats. While there are a number of treatments being researched, there is currently no effective treatment for WNS that is deployed in the field, except a few being tested on a limited scale. Bats have lowered immune function and response during hibernation, which may increase susceptibility to infection during the winter months. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a crucial component of the innate immune system and serve as barriers against infection. AMPs are constitutively expressed on skin and facilitate wound healing, stimulate other immune responses, and may also stay active on bat skin during hibernation. AMPs are expressed by all tissues, have direct killing abilities against microbes, and are a potential treatment for bats infected with Pd. In this investigation, the fungicidal activity of several readily available commercial AMPs were compared, and killing assay protocols previously investigated by Frasier and Lake were replicated to establish a control trial for use in future killing assays. Another aim of this investigation was to synthesize a bat-derived AMP for use in the killing assay. Sequences of bat-derived AMPs have been identified in bat skin samples obtained from a large geographic sampling of susceptible and resistant species. Contact was made with GenScript Inc., the company from which commercially available AMPs were purchased, to determine the characteristics of peptide sequences needed to synthesize an AMP for lab use. Based on recommendations from GenScript Inc., peptide sequences need to have a hydrophobicity of less than 50% and a sequence length of less than 50 amino acids. These criteria serve as a potential barrier because none of the known bat-derived sequences analyzed satisfy both of these requirements. The final aim of this study was to generate a conceptual model of the immune response molecules activated when bats are exposed to a fungal pathogen such as Pd. Overall, this work investigated sources of variability between trials of the killing assay, analyzed known bat-derived peptide sequences, and generated a conceptual model that will serve as a guideline for identification of immune response molecules on the skin of bats in future proteomics work.

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Date Created
2019-05

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Investigating Antimicrobial Controls for Bat White-Nose Syndrome

Description

Across large areas of eastern and midwestern North America, a severe reduction in multiple populations of bat species has been observed as the result of the emerging fungal disease, white-nose syndrome (WNS). WNS is caused by a psychrophilic (i.e. cold

Across large areas of eastern and midwestern North America, a severe reduction in multiple populations of bat species has been observed as the result of the emerging fungal disease, white-nose syndrome (WNS). WNS is caused by a psychrophilic (i.e. cold loving) fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of bats during hibernation. Recent studies have shown that during hibernation, bats have decreased immune system activity which would suggest increased susceptibility to infection. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are an important component of the innate immune system and are expressed constitutively within all tissues that serve as barriers against infection. Killing pathogens at the level of the skin could prevent the need for more complex immune responses likely inhibited during hibernation, and therefore AMPs could be critical in combating infection by Pd and reducing population loss of susceptible bat species. In this investigation, the fungicidal activity of commercially available AMPs derived from the skin of multiple taxa, including amphibians, catfish, and humans were compared in order to study immunity at the level of the skin. Additionally, our aim was to create optimal methods for a low-cost antimicrobial-assay protocol that would provide quantitative results. We found that killing abilities at various concentrations of dermaseptin S-1 against Ca ATCC 10231 were consistent with literature values, while our values for magainin 2 and parasin 1 were far from the values previously recorded by other studies. It is possible that some differences can be accounted for by the difference in antimicrobial assay procedures, but our findings suggest potential differences to the well-known killing abilities of certain peptides nonetheless. Overall, the protocol established for the antimicrobial assays using serial dilutions and Sabouraud Dextrose plates was successful.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Investigating Antimicrobial Controls for Bat White-Nose Syndrome

Description

Across large areas of eastern and midwestern North America, a severe reduction in multiple populations of bat species has been observed as the result of the emerging fungal disease, white-nose syndrome (WNS). WNS is caused by a psychrophilic (i.e. cold

Across large areas of eastern and midwestern North America, a severe reduction in multiple populations of bat species has been observed as the result of the emerging fungal disease, white-nose syndrome (WNS). WNS is caused by a psychrophilic (i.e. cold loving) fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of bats during hibernation. Recent studies have shown that during hibernation, bats have decreased immune system activity which would suggest increased susceptibility to infection. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are an important component of the innate immune system and are expressed constitutively within all tissues that serve as barriers against infection. Killing pathogens at the level of the skin could prevent the need for more complex immune responses likely inhibited during hibernation, and therefore AMPs could be critical in combating infection by Pd and reducing population loss of susceptible bat species. In this investigation, the fungicidal activity of commercially available AMPs derived from the skin of multiple taxa, including amphibians, catfish, and humans were compared in order to study immunity at the level of the skin. Additionally, our aim was to create optimal methods for a low-cost antimicrobial-assay protocol that would provide quantitative results. We found that killing abilities at various concentrations of dermaseptin S-1 against Ca ATCC 10231 were consistent with literature values, while our values for magainin 2 and parasin 1 were far from the values previously recorded by other studies. It is possible that some differences can be accounted for by the difference in antimicrobial assay procedures, but our findings suggest potential differences to the well-known killing abilities of certain peptides nonetheless. Overall, the protocol established for the antimicrobial assays using serial dilutions and Sabouraud Dextrose plates was successful.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2018-05

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Evaluating the viability of a DNA-based chip targeted for C. trachomatis, N. gonorrhoeae, and other pathogens of interest

Description

Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia, standardly treated with antibiotics, produce over 1.2 million cases annually in the emergency department (Jenkins et al., 2013). To determine a need for antibiotics, hospital labs utilize bacterial cultures to isolate and identify

Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia, standardly treated with antibiotics, produce over 1.2 million cases annually in the emergency department (Jenkins et al., 2013). To determine a need for antibiotics, hospital labs utilize bacterial cultures to isolate and identify possible pathogens. Unfortunately, this technique can take up to 72 hours, leading to several physicians presumptively treating patients based solely on history and physical presentation. With vague standards for diagnosis and a high percentage of asymptomatic carriers, several patients undergo two scenarios; over- or under-treatment. These two scenarios can lead to consequences like unnecessary exposure to antibiotics and development of secondary conditions (for example: pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, etc.). This presents a need for a laboratory technique that can provide reliable results in an efficient matter. The viability of DNA-based chip targeted for C. trachomatis, N. gonorrhoeae, and other pathogens of interest were evaluated. The DNA-based chip presented several advantages as it can be easily integrated as a routine test given the process is already well-known, is customizable and able to target multiple pathogens within a single test and has the potential to return results within a few hours as opposed to days. As such, implementation of a DNA-based chip as a diagnostic tool is a timely and potentially impactful investigation.

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Date Created
2016-12