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Analysis of nucleosome dynamics by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy

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Nucleosomes are the basic repetitive unit of eukaryotic chromatin and are responsible for packing DNA inside the nucleus of the cell. They consist of a complex of eight histone proteins (two copies of four proteins H2A, H2B, H3 and

Nucleosomes are the basic repetitive unit of eukaryotic chromatin and are responsible for packing DNA inside the nucleus of the cell. They consist of a complex of eight histone proteins (two copies of four proteins H2A, H2B, H3 and H4) around which 147 base pairs of DNA are wrapped in ~1.67 superhelical turns. Although the nucleosomes are stable protein-DNA complexes, they undergo spontaneous conformational changes that occur in an asynchronous fashion. This conformational dynamics, defined by the "site-exposure" model, involves the DNA unwrapping from the protein core and exposing itself transiently before wrapping back. Physiologically, this allows regulatory proteins to bind to their target DNA sites during cellular processes like replication, DNA repair and transcription. Traditional biochemical assays have stablished the equilibrium constants for the accessibility to various sites along the length of the nucleosomal DNA, from its end to the middle of the dyad axis. Using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), we have established the position dependent rewrapping rates for nucleosomes. We have also used Monte Carlo simulation methods to analyze the applicability of FRET fluctuation spectroscopy towards conformational dynamics, specifically motivated by nucleosome dynamics. Another important conformational change that is involved in cellular processes is the disassembly of nucleosome into its constituent particles. The exact pathway adopted by nucleosomes is still not clear. We used dual color fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to study the intermediates during nucleosome disassembly induced by changing ionic strength. Studying the nature of nucleosome conformational change and the kinetics is very important in understanding gene expression. The results from this thesis give a quantitative description to the basic unit of the chromatin.

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2011

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Novel strategies for producing proteins with non-proteinogenic amino acids

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The biological and chemical diversity of protein structure and function can be greatly expanded by position-specific incorporation of non-natural amino acids bearing a variety of functional groups. Non-cognate amino acids can be incorporated into proteins at specific sites by using

The biological and chemical diversity of protein structure and function can be greatly expanded by position-specific incorporation of non-natural amino acids bearing a variety of functional groups. Non-cognate amino acids can be incorporated into proteins at specific sites by using orthogonal aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase/tRNA pairs in conjunction with nonsense, rare, or 4-bp codons. There has been considerable progress in developing new types of amino acids, in identifying novel methods of tRNA aminoacylation, and in expanding the genetic code to direct their position. Chemical aminoacylation of tRNAs is accomplished by acylation and ligation of a dinucleotide (pdCpA) to the 3'-terminus of truncated tRNA. This strategy allows the incorporation of a wide range of natural and unnatural amino acids into pre-determined sites, thereby facilitating the study of structure-function relationships in proteins and allowing the investigation of their biological, biochemical and biophysical properties. Described in Chapter 1 is the current methodology for synthesizing aminoacylated suppressor tRNAs. Aminoacylated suppressor tRNACUAs are typically prepared by linking pre-aminoacylated dinucleotides (aminoacyl-pdCpAs) to 74 nucleotide (nt) truncated tRNAs (tRNA-COH) via a T4 RNA ligase mediated reaction. Alternatively, there is another route outlined in Chapter 1 that utilizes a different pre-aminoacylated dinucleotide, AppA. This dinucleotide has been shown to be a suitable substrate for T4 RNA ligase mediated coupling with abbreviated tRNA-COHs for production of 76 nt aminoacyl-tRNACUAs. The synthesized suppressor tRNAs have been shown to participate in protein synthesis in vitro, in an S30 (E. coli) coupled transcription-translation system in which there is a UAG codon in the mRNA at the position corresponding to Val10. Chapter 2 describes the synthesis of two non-proteinogenic amino acids, L-thiothreonine and L-allo-thiothreonine, and their incorporation into predetermined positions of a catalytically competent dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) analogue lacking cysteine. Here, the elaborated proteins were site-specifically derivitized with a fluorophore at the thiothreonine residue. The synthesis and incorporation of phosphorotyrosine derivatives into DHFR is illustrated in Chapter 3. Three different phosphorylated tyrosine derivatives were prepared: bis-nitrobenzylphosphoro-L-tyrosine, nitrobenzylphosphoro-L-tyrosine, and phosphoro-L-tyrosine. Their ability to participate in a protein synthesis system was also evaluated.

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2013

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Study of ribosomes having modifications in the peptidyltransferase center using non-alpha-L-amino acids and synthesis and biological evaluation of topopyrones

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The ribosome is a ribozyme and central to the biosynthesis of proteins in all organisms. It has a strong bias against non-alpha-L-amino acids, such as alpha-D-amino acids and beta-amino acids. Additionally, the ribosome is only able to incorporate one amino

The ribosome is a ribozyme and central to the biosynthesis of proteins in all organisms. It has a strong bias against non-alpha-L-amino acids, such as alpha-D-amino acids and beta-amino acids. Additionally, the ribosome is only able to incorporate one amino acid in response to one codon. It has been demonstrated that reengineering of the peptidyltransferase center (PTC) of the ribosome enabled the incorporation of both alpha-D-amino acids and beta-amino acids into full length protein. Described in Chapter 2 are five modified ribosomes having modifications in the peptidyltrasnferase center in the 23S rRNA. These modified ribosomes successfully incorporated five different beta-amino acids (2.1 - 2.5) into E. coli dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). The second project (Chapter 3) focused on the study of the modified ribosomes facilitating the incorporation of the dipeptide glycylphenylalanine (3.25) and fluorescent dipeptidomimetic 3.26 into DHFR. These ribosomes also had modifications in the peptidyltransferase center in the 23S rRNA of the 50S ribosomal subunit. The modified DHFRs having beta-amino acids 2.3 and 2.5, dipeptide glycylphenylalanine (3.25) and dipeptidomimetic 3.26 were successfully characterized by the MALDI-MS analysis of the peptide fragments produced by "in-gel" trypsin digestion of the modified proteins. The fluorescent spectra of the dipeptidomimetic 3.26 and modified DHFR having fluorescent dipeptidomimetic 3.26 were also measured. The type I and II DNA topoisomerases have been firmly established as effective molecular targets for many antitumor drugs. A "classical" topoisomerase I or II poison acts by misaligning the free hydroxyl group of the sugar moiety of DNA and preventing the reverse transesterfication reaction to religate DNA. There have been only two classes of compounds, saintopin and topopyrones, reported as dual topoisomerase I and II poisons. Chapter 4 describes the synthesis and biological evaluation of topopyrones. Compound 4.10, employed at 20 µM, was as efficient as 0.5 uM camptothecin, a potent topoisomerase I poison, in stabilizing the covalent binary complex (~30%). When compared with a known topoisomerase II poison, etoposide (at 0.5 uM), topopyorone 4.10 produced similar levels of stabilized DNA-enzyme binary complex (~34%) at 5 uM concentration.

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2013

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Thermodynamics and kinetics of DNA tile-based self-assembly

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Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has emerged as an attractive building material for creating complex architectures at the nanometer scale that simultaneously affords versatility and modularity. Particularly, the programmability of DNA enables the assembly of basic building units into increasingly complex, arbitrary

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has emerged as an attractive building material for creating complex architectures at the nanometer scale that simultaneously affords versatility and modularity. Particularly, the programmability of DNA enables the assembly of basic building units into increasingly complex, arbitrary shapes or patterns. With the expanding complexity and functionality of DNA toolboxes, a quantitative understanding of DNA self-assembly in terms of thermodynamics and kinetics, will provide researchers with more subtle design guidelines that facilitate more precise spatial and temporal control. This dissertation focuses on studying the physicochemical properties of DNA tile-based self-assembly process by recapitulating representative scenarios and intermediate states with unique assembly pathways.

First, DNA double-helical tiles with increasing flexibility were designed to investigate the dimerization kinetics. The higher dimerization rates of more rigid tiles result from the opposing effects of higher activation energies and higher pre-exponential factors from the Arrhenius equation, where the pre-exponential factor dominates. Next, the thermodynamics and kinetics of single tile attachment to preformed “multitile” arrays were investigated to test the fundamental assumptions of tile assembly models. The results offer experimental evidences that double crossover tile attachment is determined by the electrostatic environment and the steric hindrance at the binding site. Finally, the assembly of double crossover tiles within a rhombic DNA origami frame was employed as the model system to investigate the competition between unseeded, facet and seeded nucleation. The results revealed that preference of nucleation types can be tuned by controlling the rate-limiting nucleation step.

The works presented in this dissertation will be helpful for refining the DNA tile assembly model for future designs and simulations. Moreover, The works presented here could also be helpful in understanding how individual molecules interact and more complex cooperative bindings in chemistry and biology. The future direction will focus on the characterization of tile assembly at single molecule level and the development of error-free tile assembly systems.

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2016

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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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Functional DNA nanomaterials

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The discovery of DNA helical structure opened the door of modern molecular biology. Ned Seeman utilized DNA as building block to construct different nanoscale materials, and introduced a new field, know as DNA nanotechnology. After several decades of development, different

The discovery of DNA helical structure opened the door of modern molecular biology. Ned Seeman utilized DNA as building block to construct different nanoscale materials, and introduced a new field, know as DNA nanotechnology. After several decades of development, different DNA structures had been created, with different dimension, different morphology and even with complex curvatures. In addition, after construction of enough amounts DNA structure candidates, DNA structure template, with excellent spatial addressability, had been used to direct the assembly of different nanomaterials, including nanoparticles and proteins, to produce different functional nanomaterials. However there are still many challenges to fabricate functional DNA nanostructures. The first difficulty is that the present finite sized template dimension is still very small, usually smaller than 100nm, which will limit the application for large amount of nanomaterials assembly or large sized nanomaterials assembly. Here we tried to solve this problem through developing a new method, superorigami, to construct finite sized DNA structure with much larger dimension, which can be as large as 500nm. The second problem will be explored the ability of DNA structure to assemble inorganic nanomaterials for novel photonic or electronic properties. Here we tried to utilize DNA Origami method to assemble AuNPs with controlled 3D spacial position for possible chiral photonic complex. We also tried to assemble SWNT with discrete length for possible field effect transistor device. In addition, we tried to mimic in vivo compartment with DNA structure to study internalized enzyme behavior. From our results, constructed DNA cage origami can protect encapsulated enzyme from degradation, and internalized enzyme activity can be boosted for up to 10 folds. In summary, DNA structure can serve as an ideal template for construction of functional nanomaterials with lots of possibilities to be explored.

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2013

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Thermodynamics and kinetics of DNA nanostructure assembly

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ABSTRACT The unique structural features of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that are of considerable biological interest also make it a valuable engineering material. Perhaps the most useful property of DNA for molecular engineering is its ability to self-assemble into predictable, double

ABSTRACT The unique structural features of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that are of considerable biological interest also make it a valuable engineering material. Perhaps the most useful property of DNA for molecular engineering is its ability to self-assemble into predictable, double helical secondary structures. These interactions are exploited to design a variety of DNA nanostructures, which can be organized into both discrete and periodic structures. This dissertation focuses on studying the dynamic behavior of DNA nanostructure recognition processes. The thermodynamics and kinetics of nanostructure binding are evaluated, with the intention of improving our ability to understand and control their assembly. Presented here are a series of studies toward this goal. First, multi-helical DNA nanostructures were used to investigate how the valency and arrangement of the connections between DNA nanostructures affect super-structure formation. The study revealed that both the number and the relative position of connections play a significant role in the stability of the final assembly. Next, several DNA nanostructures were designed to gain insight into how small changes to the nanostructure scaffolds, intended to vary their conformational flexibility, would affect their association equilibrium. This approach yielded quantitative information about the roles of enthalpy and entropy in the affinity of polyvalent DNA nanostructure interactions, which exhibit an intriguing compensating effect. Finally, a multi-helical DNA nanostructure was used as a model `chip' for the detection of a single stranded DNA target. The results revealed that the rate constant of hybridization is strongly dominated by a rate-limiting nucleation step.

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2011

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Identification, characterization and evolution of invertebrate telomerase RNA

Description

Telomerase is a specialized enzyme that adds telomeric DNA repeats to the chromosome ends to counterbalance the progressive telomere shortening over cell divisions. It has two essential core components, a catalytic telomerase reverse transcriptase protein (TERT), and a telomerase RNA

Telomerase is a specialized enzyme that adds telomeric DNA repeats to the chromosome ends to counterbalance the progressive telomere shortening over cell divisions. It has two essential core components, a catalytic telomerase reverse transcriptase protein (TERT), and a telomerase RNA (TR). TERT synthesizes telomeric DNA by reverse transcribing a short template sequence in TR. Unlike TERT, TR is extremely divergent in size, sequence and structure and has only been identified in three evolutionarily distant groups. The lack of knowledge on TR from important model organisms has been a roadblock for vigorous studies on telomerase regulation. To address this issue, a novel in vitro system combining deep-sequencing and bioinformatics search was developed to discover TR from new phylogenetic groups. The system has been validated by the successful identification of TR from echinoderm purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. The sea urchin TR (spTR) is the first invertebrate TR that has been identified and can serve as a model for understanding how the vertebrate TR evolved with vertebrate-specific traits. By using phylogenetic comparative analysis, the secondary structure of spTR was determined. The spTR secondary structure reveals unique sea urchin specific structure elements as well as homologous structural features shared by TR from other organisms. This study enhanced the understanding of telomerase mechanism and the evolution of telomerase RNP. The system that was used to identity telomerase RNA can be employed for the discovery of other TR as well as the discovery of novel RNA from other RNP complex.

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2011

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Atomic force microscopy for chromatin structure study

Description

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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Exploring the telomeric repeat addition processivity of vertebrate telomerase

Description

Telomerase is a special reverse transcriptase that extends the linear chromosome termini in eukaryotes. Telomerase is also a unique ribonucleoprotein complex which is composed of the protein component called Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase (TERT) and a telomerase RNA component (TR). The

Telomerase is a special reverse transcriptase that extends the linear chromosome termini in eukaryotes. Telomerase is also a unique ribonucleoprotein complex which is composed of the protein component called Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase (TERT) and a telomerase RNA component (TR). The enzyme from most vertebrate species is able to utilize a short template sequence within TR to synthesize a long stretch of telomeric DNA, an ability termed "repeat addition processivity". By using human telomerase reconstituted both in vitro (Rabbit Reticulocyte Lysate) and in vivo (293FT cells), I have demonstrated that a conserved motif in the reverse transcriptase domain of the telomerase protein is crucial for telomerase repeat addition processivity and rate. Furthermore, I have designed a "template-free" telomerase to show that RNA/DNA duplex binding is a critical step for telomere repeat synthesis. In an attempt to expand the understanding of vertebrate telomerase, I have studied RNA-protein interactions of telomerase from teleost fish. The teleost fish telomerase RNA (TR) is by far the smallest vertebrate TR identified, providing a valuable model for structural research.

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2010