Matching Items (10)

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A general strategy for expanding polymerase function by droplet microfluidics

Description

Polymerases that synthesize artificial genetic polymers hold great promise for advancing future applications in synthetic biology. However, engineering natural polymerases to replicate unnatural genetic polymers is a challenging problem. Here

Polymerases that synthesize artificial genetic polymers hold great promise for advancing future applications in synthetic biology. However, engineering natural polymerases to replicate unnatural genetic polymers is a challenging problem. Here we present droplet-based optical polymerase sorting (DrOPS) as a general strategy for expanding polymerase function that employs an optical sensor to monitor polymerase activity inside the microenvironment of a uniform synthetic compartment generated by microfluidics. We validated this approach by performing a complete cycle of encapsulation, sorting and recovery on a doped library and observed an enrichment of ∼1,200-fold for a model engineered polymerase. We then applied our method to evolve a manganese-independent α-L-threofuranosyl nucleic acid (TNA) polymerase that functions with >99% template-copying fidelity. Based on our findings, we suggest that DrOPS is a versatile tool that could be used to evolve any polymerase function, where optical detection can be achieved by Watson–Crick base pairing.

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Date Created
  • 2016-04-05

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A Novel Bacterial Response to an ATP Sequestering Protein in Escherichia coli is controlled by the Stringent Response

Description

Bacteria have been shown to possess a large array of regulatory mechanisms to not just respond to a diverse array of environmental stresses, but to injurious artificial proteins as well.

Bacteria have been shown to possess a large array of regulatory mechanisms to not just respond to a diverse array of environmental stresses, but to injurious artificial proteins as well. A previous investigation introduced DX, a man-made ATP sequestering protein into Escherichia coli (E. coli) which resulted in the formation of novel endoliposome structures and induced a viable but non-culturable state (VBNC) that was not easily reversed. It was hypothesized that the broadly conserved bacterial stringent response pathway may have been responsible for the observed phenotypic changes. With the goal of unveiling the molecular mechanism behind this novel response, changes in cellular morphology and physiology upon DX expression were assessed in a population of E. coli encoding a dysfunctional relA gene, one of the two genes controlling the induction of the stringent response. It was ultimately shown that RelA directly contributed to cellular filamentation, endoliposome structure formation, and the induction of a VBNC state. While the stringent response has been extensively shown to induce a VBNC state, to our knowledge, relA has not yet been shown to induce filamentation or coordinate the formation of endoliposome structures in bacteria. As the stringent response has been shown to be increasingly involved in antibiotic tolerance, this study provided an exciting opportunity to further characterize this adaptive response pathway to aid in the future development of novel therapeutics. In addition to this, this study continued to highlight that the DX protein may serve one of the first tools to allow for the direct selection of bacteria in a VBNC state by morphologically distinguishing non-culturable cells through cellular filamentation.

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Date Created
  • 2014-12

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Validating a Model for Catalytic Function in 9°N Polymerase Based on Structural Conservation

Description

Nucleic acids encode the information required to create life, and polymerases are the gatekeepers charged with maintaining the storage and flow of this genetic information. Synthetic biologists utilize this universal

Nucleic acids encode the information required to create life, and polymerases are the gatekeepers charged with maintaining the storage and flow of this genetic information. Synthetic biologists utilize this universal property to modify organisms and other systems to create unique traits or improve the function of others. One of the many realms in synthetic biology involves the study of biopolymers that do not exist naturally, which is known as xenobiology. Although life depends on two biopolymers for genetic storage, it may be possible that alternative molecules (xenonucleic acids – XNAs), could be used in their place in either a living or non-living system. However, implementation of an XNA based system requires the development of polymerases that can encode and decode information stored in these artificial polymers. A strategy called directed evolution is used to modify or alter the function of a protein of interest, but identifying mutations that can modify polymerase function is made problematic by their size and overall complexity. To reduce the amount of sequence space that needs to be samples when attempting to identify polymerase variants, we can try to make informed decisions about which amino acid residues may have functional roles in catalysis. An analysis of Family B polymerases has shown that residues which are involved in substrate specificity are often highly conserved both at the sequence and structure level. In order to validate the hypothesis that a strong correlation exists between structural conservation and catalytic activity, we have selected and mutated residues in the 9°N polymerase using a loss of function mutagenesis strategy based on a computational analysis of several homologues from a diverse range of taxa. Improvement of these models will hopefully lead to quicker identification of loci which are ideal engineering targets.

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  • 2015-05

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Comparative Analysis of Eukaryotic Cell-Free Translation Systems

Description

Cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) is becoming an increasingly popular method of in vitro protein expression for biotechnology applications. However, there is still no comprehensive resource that outlines the most effective

Cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) is becoming an increasingly popular method of in vitro protein expression for biotechnology applications. However, there is still no comprehensive resource that outlines the most effective lysate and template combinations for efficient eukaryotic CFPS. To address this issue, expression vectors were constructed and assayed in order to determine their activity within three commercial eukaryotic CFPS systems: Wheat Germ Extract (WGE), Rabbit Reticulocyte Lysate (RRL), and HeLa Cell Lysate (HCL). Previously in the Chaput lab, a luciferase reporter vector was expressed in each lysate system, testing different template variables impacting protein expression, including the 5' UTR sequence, presence of poly(A) tail, and DNA type. It was found that plasmid DNA templates generally yielded ~500-fold greater amount of protein than linear DNA templates and the inclusion of a poly(A) tail did not significantly increase protein expression in the plasmid systems. Additionally, the incorporation of a viral translation enhancing sequence into the 5' UTR increased translation in a lysate-specific manner. The HCL system had a strong preference for the EMCV sequence, WGE had a preference for the sequences from AMV and TMV, and RRL showed no specific preference. Overall, the HCL-EMCV system generated the greatest amount of protein per volume, producing 10-fold more protein than the second best template-lysate combination tested. Here, four human genes fused with a c-Myc tag were expressed in each lysate using the EMCV 5' UTR sequence in order to test the generality of the previous results. Protein synthesis was assayed using a luciferase construct with a c-Myc tag to recapitulate the previous luminometer data and western blotting of the human proteins. These analyses showed the same EMCV expression trends across all systems, with the HCL system synthesizing the greatest amount of each protein. In the future, when choosing commercial eukaryotic CFPS systems for gene expression, these template variables should be considered when performing cost analysis for cell-free protein production.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05

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Development of a full-length human protein production pipeline

Description

There are many proteomic applications that require large collections of purified protein, but parallel production of large numbers of different proteins remains a very challenging task. To help meet the

There are many proteomic applications that require large collections of purified protein, but parallel production of large numbers of different proteins remains a very challenging task. To help meet the needs of the scientific community, we have developed a human protein production pipeline. Using high-throughput (HT) methods, we transferred the genes of 31 full-length proteins into three expression vectors, and expressed the collection as N-terminal HaloTag fusion proteins in Escherichia coli and two commercial cell-free (CF) systems, wheat germ extract (WGE) and HeLa cell extract (HCE). Expression was assessed by labeling the fusion proteins specifically and covalently with a fluorescent HaloTag ligand and detecting its fluorescence on a LabChip[superscript ®] GX microfluidic capillary gel electrophoresis instrument. This automated, HT assay provided both qualitative and quantitative assessment of recombinant protein. E. coli was only capable of expressing 20% of the test collection in the supernatant fraction with ≥20 μg yields, whereas CF systems had ≥83% success rates. We purified expressed proteins using an automated HaloTag purification method. We purified 20, 33, and 42% of the test collection from E. coli, WGE, and HCE, respectively, with yields ≥1 μg and ≥90% purity. Based on these observations, we have developed a triage strategy for producing full-length human proteins in these three expression systems.

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Date Created
  • 2014-08-01

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Exploring the nature of protein-peptide interactions on surfaces

Description

Protein-surface interactions, no matter structured or unstructured, are important in both biological and man-made systems. Unstructured interactions are more difficult to study with conventional techniques due to the lack of

Protein-surface interactions, no matter structured or unstructured, are important in both biological and man-made systems. Unstructured interactions are more difficult to study with conventional techniques due to the lack of a specific binding structure. In this dissertation, a novel approach is employed to study the unstructured interactions between proteins and heterogonous surfaces, by looking at a large number of different binding partners at surfaces and using the binding information to understand the chemistry of binding. In this regard, surface-bound peptide arrays are used as a model for the study. Specifically, in Chapter 2, the effects of charge, hydrophobicity and length of surface-bound peptides on binding affinity for specific globular proteins (&beta-galactosidase and &alpha1-antitrypsin) and relative binding of different proteins were examined with LC Sciences peptide array platform. While the general charge and hydrophobicity of the peptides are certainly important, more surprising is that &beta-galactosidase affinity for the surface does not simply increase with the length of the peptide. Another interesting observation that leads to the next part of the study is that even very short surface-bound peptides can have both strong and selective interactions with proteins. Hence, in Chapter 3, selected tetrapeptide sequences with known binding characteristics to &beta-galactosidase are used as building blocks to create longer sequences to see if the binding function can be added together. The conclusion is that while adding two component sequences together can either greatly increase or decrease overall binding and specificity, the contribution to the binding affinity and specificity of the individual binding components is strongly dependent on their position in the peptide. Finally, in Chapter 4, another array platform is utilized to overcome the limitations associated with LC Sciences. It is found that effects of peptide sequence properties on IgG binding with HealthTell array are quiet similar to what was observed with &beta-galactosidase on LC Science array surface. In summary, the approach presented in this dissertation can provide binding information for both structured and unstructured interactions taking place at complex surfaces and has the potential to help develop surfaces covered with specific short peptide sequences with relatively specific protein interaction profiles.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Bleomycin, from start to finish: total synthesis of novel analogues to in vitro fluorescence microscopy imaging

Description

The bleomycins are a family of glycopeptide-derived antibiotics isolated from various Streptomyces species and have been the subject of much attention from the scientific community as a consequence of their

The bleomycins are a family of glycopeptide-derived antibiotics isolated from various Streptomyces species and have been the subject of much attention from the scientific community as a consequence of their antitumor activity. Bleomycin clinically and is an integral part of a number of combination chemotherapy regimens. It has previously been shown that bleomycin has the ability to selectively target tumor cells over their non-malignant counterparts. Pyrimidoblamic acid, the N-terminal metal ion binding domain of bleomycin is known to be the moiety that is responsible for O2 activation and the subsequent chemistry leading to DNA strand scission and overall antitumor activity. Chapter 1 describes bleomycin and related DNA targeting antitumor agents as well as the specific structural domains of bleomycin. Various structural analogues of pyrimidoblamic acid were synthesized and subsequently incorporated into their corresponding full deglycoBLM A6 derivatives by utilizing a solid support. Their activity was measured using a pSP64 DNA plasmid relaxation assay and is summarized in Chapter 2. The specifics of bleomycin—DNA interaction and kinetics were studied via surface plasmon resonance and are presented in Chapter 3. By utilizing carefully selected 64-nucleotide DNA hairpins with variable 16-mer regions whose sequences showed strong binding in past selection studies, a kinetic profile was obtained for several BLMs for the first time since bleomycin was discovered in 1966. The disaccharide moiety of bleomycin has been previously shown to be a specific tumor cell targeting element comprised of L-gulose-D-mannose, especially between MCF-7 (breast cancer cells) and MCF-10A ("normal" breast cells). This phenomenon was further investigated via fluorescence microscopy using multiple cancerous cell lines with matched "normal" counterparts and is fully described in Chapter 4.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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An investigation of the interaction of DNA with selected peptides and proteins

Description

The communication of genetic material with biomolecules has been a major interest in cancer biology research for decades. Among its different levels of involvement, DNA is known to be a

The communication of genetic material with biomolecules has been a major interest in cancer biology research for decades. Among its different levels of involvement, DNA is known to be a target of several antitumor agents. Additionally, tissue specific interaction between macromolecules such as proteins and structurally important regions of DNA has been reported to define the onset of certain types of cancers.

Illustrated in Chapter 1 is the general history of research on the interaction of DNA and anticancer drugs, most importantly different congener of bleomycin (BLM). Additionally, several synthetic analogues of bleomycin, including the structural components and functionalities, are discussed.

Chapter 2 describes a new approach to study the double-strand DNA lesion caused by antitumor drug bleomycin. The hairpin DNA library used in this study displays numerous cleavage sites demonstrating the versatility of bleomycin interaction with DNA. Interestingly, some of those cleavage sites suggest a novel mechanism of bleomycin interaction, which has not been reported before.

Cytidine methylation has generally been found to decrease site-specific cleavage of DNA by BLM, possibly due to structural change and subsequent reduced bleomycin-mediated recognition of DNA. As illustrated in Chapter 3, three hairpin DNAs known to be strongly bound by bleomycin, and their methylated counterparts, were used to study the dynamics of bleomycin-induced degradation of DNAs in cancer cells. Interestingly, cytidine methylation on one of the DNAs has also shown a major shift in the intensity of bleomycin induced double-strand DNA cleavage pattern, which is known to be a more potent form of bleomycin induced cleavages.

DNA secondary structures are known to play important roles in gene regulation. Chapter 4 demonstrates a structural change of the BCL2 promoter element as a result of its dynamic interaction with the individual domains of hnRNP LL, which is essential to facilitate the transcription of BCL2. Furthermore, an in vitro protein synthesis technique has been employed to study the dynamic interaction between protein domains and the i-motif DNA within the promoter element. Several constructs were made involving replacement of a single amino acid with a fluorescent analogue, and these were used to study FRET between domain 1 and the i-motif, the later of which harbored a fluorescent acceptor nucleotide analogue.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Development and characterization of affinity peptides using mRNA display and dot blot method

Description

Protein affinity reagents have aptly gained profound importance as capture reagents and

drugs in basic research, biotechnology, diagnostics and therapeutics. However, due to the

cost, labor and time associated

Protein affinity reagents have aptly gained profound importance as capture reagents and

drugs in basic research, biotechnology, diagnostics and therapeutics. However, due to the

cost, labor and time associated with production of antibodies focus has recently changed

towards potential of peptides to act as protein affinity reagents. Affinity peptides are easy

to work with, non-immunogenic, cost effective and amenable to scale up. Even though

researchers have developed several affinity peptides, we are far from compiling library of

peptides that encompasses entire human proteome. My thesis describes high throughput

pipeline that can be used to develop and characterize affinity peptides that bind several

discrete sites on target proteins.

Chapter 2 describes optimization of cell-free protein expression using commercially

available translation systems and well-known leader sequences. Presence of internal

ribosome entry site upstream of coding region allows maximal expression in HeLa cell

lysate whereas translation enhancing elements are best suited for expression in rabbit

reticulocyte lysate and wheat germ extract. Use of optimal vector and cell lysate

combination ensures maximum protein expression of DNA libraries.

Chapter 3 describes mRNA display selection methodology for developing affinity peptides

for target proteins using large diversity DNA libraries. I demonstrate that mild denaturant

is not sufficient to increase selection pressure for up to three rounds of selection and

increasing number of selection rounds increases probability of finding affinity peptide s.

These studies enhance fundamental understanding of mRNA display and pave the way

for future optimizations to accelerate convergence of in vitro selections.

Chapter 4 describes a high throughput double membrane dot blot system to rapidly

screen, identify and characterize affinity peptides obtained from selection output. I used

dot blot to screen potential affinity peptides from large diversity of previously

ii

uncharacterized mRNA display selection output. Further characterization of potential

peptides allowed determination of several high affinity peptides from having Kd range 150-

450 nM. Double membrane dot blot is automation amenable, easy and affordable solution

for analyzing selection output and characterizing peptides without ne ed for much

instrumentation.

Together these projects serve as guideline for evolution of cost effective high throughput

pipeline for identification and characterization of affinity peptides.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Structure, function and evolution of filamentous fungal telomerase RNA

Description

Telomerase ribonucleoprotein is a unique reverse transcriptase that adds telomeric DNA repeats to chromosome ends. Telomerase RNA (TER) is extremely divergent in size, sequence and has to date only been

Telomerase ribonucleoprotein is a unique reverse transcriptase that adds telomeric DNA repeats to chromosome ends. Telomerase RNA (TER) is extremely divergent in size, sequence and has to date only been identified in vertebrate, yeast, ciliate and plant species. Herein, the identification and characterization of TERs from an evolutionarily distinct group, filamentous fungi, is presented. Based on phylogenetic analysis of 69 TER sequences and mutagenesis analysis of in vitro reconstituted Neurospora telomerase, we discovered a conserved functional core in filamentous fungal TERs sharing homologous structural features with vertebrate TERs. This core contains the template-pseudoknot and P6/P6.1 domains, essential for enzymatic activity, which retain function in trans. The in vitro reconstituted Neurospora telomerase is highly processive, synthesizing canonical TTAGGG repeats. Similar to Schizosaccharomycetes pombe, filamentous fungal TERs utilize the spliceosomal splicing machinery for 3' processing. Neurospora telomerase, while associating with the Est1 protein in vivo, does not bind homologous Ku or Sm proteins found in both budding and fission yeast telomerase holoenzyme, suggesting a unique biogenesis pathway. The development of Neurospora as a model organism to study telomeres and telomerase may shed light upon the evolution of the canonical TTAGGG telomeric repeat and telomerase processivity within fungal species.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011