Matching Items (8)

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Efficacies of Peer-Mentorship in the First-Semester Undergraduate Experience in the Life Sciences

Description

First-semester student retention is a constant priority for undergraduate institutions. The transition to the collegiate level, and to a new scholastic program and format, is frequently challenging academically and socially—for

First-semester student retention is a constant priority for undergraduate institutions. The transition to the collegiate level, and to a new scholastic program and format, is frequently challenging academically and socially—for this reason, many first-semester course schedules for incoming freshman undergraduates feature an introductory seminar to ease transition to an undergraduate lifestyle. Arizona State University features a required “Careers in the Life Sciences” course for its first-semester School of Life Sciences students, which has had tractable results in first semester student retention and academic success. Here, we evaluate a component of the seminar, the peer-mentorship program, for its efficacy in students’ first semester experience. Analysis of self-reports from 168 first-semester “mentees” and their 25 mentors indicates frequency of mentee-mentor contact was the best indicator of a higher first semester GPA, comfort with academic resources and study habits, and desire to engage in extracurricular activities and internships. These data indicate that access to a mentor who actively engages and verbally connects with their mentees is a valuable component of first-semester student academic integration and retention.

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  • 2014-05

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Making Common Sense of Vaccines: An Example of Discussing the Recombinant Attenuated Salmonella Vaccine with the Public

Description

Researchers have iterated that the future of synthetic biology and biotechnology lies in novel consumer applications of crossing biology with engineering. However, if the new biology's future is to be

Researchers have iterated that the future of synthetic biology and biotechnology lies in novel consumer applications of crossing biology with engineering. However, if the new biology's future is to be sustainable, early and serious efforts must be made towards social sustainability. Therefore, the crux of new applications of synthetic biology and biotechnology is public understanding and acceptance. The RASVaccine is a novel recombinant design not found in nature that re-engineers a common bacteria ( Salmonella) to produce a strong immune response in humans. Synthesis of the RASVaccine has the potential to improve public health as an inexpensive, non-injectable product. But how can scientists move forward to create a dialogue of creating a 'common sense' of this new technology in order to promote social sustainability? This paper delves into public issues raised around these novel technologies and uses the RASVaccine as an example of meeting the public with a common sense of its possibilities and limitations.

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Date Created
  • 2014-08-01

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Effect of oxygen on the competition between Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus

Description

The viscous lung mucus of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients is characterized by oxygen gradients, which creates a unique niche for bacterial growth. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, two predominant microorganisms

The viscous lung mucus of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients is characterized by oxygen gradients, which creates a unique niche for bacterial growth. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, two predominant microorganisms chronically infecting the airways of CF patients, typically localize in hypoxic regions of the mucus. While interspecies interactions between P. aeruginosa and S. aureus have been reported, little is known about the role of low oxygen in regulating these interactions. Studying interspecies interactions in CF lung disease is important as evidence suggests that microbial community composition governs disease progression. In this study, P. aeruginosa lab strain PAO1 and two primary clinical isolates from hypoxic tissues were cultured alone, or in combination, with methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strain N315 under hypoxic or normoxic conditions. Herein, it is shown for the first time that low oxygen conditions relevant to the CF lung affect the competitive behavior between P. aeruginosa and S. aureus. Specifically, S. aureus was able to better survive competition in hypoxic versus normoxic conditions. Competition data from different oxygen concentrations were consistent using PAO1 and clinical isolates even though differences in the level of competition were observed. PAO1 strains carrying mutations in virulence factors known to contribute to S. aureus competition (pyocyanin/phzS, elastase/lasA and lasI quorum sensing/lasI) were used to determine which genes play a role in the differential growth inhibition. The lasA and lasI mutants competed less effectively with S. aureus regardless of the oxygen level present in the culture compared to the isogenic wild type strain. These results are consistent with previous findings that elastase and lasI quorum sensing play a role in competitive behavior of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus. Interestingly, the phzS mutant competed less effectively in hypoxic conditions suggesting that pyocyanin may be important in microaerophilic conditions. This study demonstrates that oxygen plays a role in competition between P. aeruginosa and S. aureus and contributes to understanding CF environmental factors that may regulate microbial community dynamics important for disease progression with potential for development of therapeutic avenues.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Breaking the senescence: inhibition of ATM allows S9 cells to re-enter cell cycle

Description

The Philadelphia chromosome in humans, is on oncogenic translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22 that gives rise to the fusion protein BCR-Abl. This protein is constitutively active resulting in rapid

The Philadelphia chromosome in humans, is on oncogenic translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22 that gives rise to the fusion protein BCR-Abl. This protein is constitutively active resulting in rapid and uncontrolled cell growth in affected cells. The BCR-Abl protein is the hallmark feature of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and is seen in Philadelphia-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cases. Currently, the first line of treatment is the Abl specific inhibitor Imatinib. Some patients will, however, develop resistance to Imatinib. Research has shown how transformation of progenitor B cells with v-Abl, an oncogene expressed by the Abelson murine leukemia virus, causes rapid proliferation, prevents further differentiation and produces a potentially malignant transformation. We have used progenitor B cells transformed with a temperature-sensitive form of the v-Abl protein that allows us to inactivate or re-activate v-Abl by shifting the incubation temperature. We are trying to use this line as a model to study both the progression from pre-malignancy to malignancy in CML and Imatinib resistance in Ph+ ALL and CML. These progenitor B cells, once v-Abl is reactivated, in most cases, will not return to their natural cell cycle. In this they resemble Ph+ ALL and CML under Imatinib treatment. With some manipulation these cells can break this prolonged G1 arrested phenotype and become a malignant cell line and resistant to Imatinib treatment. Cellular senescence can be a complicated process requiring inter-play between a variety of players. It serves as an alternate option to apoptosis, in that the cell loses proliferative potential, but does not die. Treatment with some cancer therapeutics will induce senescence in some cancers. Such is the case with Imatinib treatment of CML and Ph+ ALL. By using the S9 cell line we have been able to explore the possible routes for breaking of prolonged G1 arrest in these Ph+ leukemias. We inhibited the DNA damage sensor protein ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and found that prolonged G1 arrest in our S9 cells was broken. While previous research has suggested that the DNA damage sensor protein ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) has little impact in CML, our research indicates that ATM may play a role in either senescence induction or release.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Involvement of PKCzeta, GSK3beta, and MAPK in maintenance of the mitotic spindle

Description

In somatic cells, the mitotic spindle apparatus is centrosomal and several isoforms of Protein Kinase C (PKC) have been associated with the mitotic spindle, but their role in stabilizing the

In somatic cells, the mitotic spindle apparatus is centrosomal and several isoforms of Protein Kinase C (PKC) have been associated with the mitotic spindle, but their role in stabilizing the mitotic spindle is unclear. Other protein kinases such as, Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3â (GSK3â) also have been shown to be associated with the mitotic spindle. In the study in chapter 2, we show the enrichment of active (phosphorylated) PKCæ at the centrosomal region of the spindle apparatus in metaphase stage of 3T3 cells. In order to understand whether the two kinases, PKC and GSK3â are associated with the mitotic spindle, first, the co-localization and close molecular proximity of PKC isoforms with GSK3â was studied in metaphase cells. Second, the involvement of inactive GSK3â in maintaining an intact mitotic spindle was shown. Third, this study showed that addition of a phospho-PKCæ specific inhibitor to cells can disrupt the mitotic spindle microtubules. The mitotic spindle at metaphase in mouse fibroblasts appears to be maintained by PKCæ acting through GSK3â. The MAPK pathway has been implicated in various functions related to cell cycle regulation. MAPKK (MEK) is part of this pathway and the extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) is its known downstream target. GSK3â and PKCæ also have been implicated in cell cycle regulation. In the study in chapter 3, we tested the effects of inhibiting MEK on the activities of ERK, GSK3â, PKCæ, and á-tubulin. Results from this study indicate that inhibition of MEK did not inhibit GSK3â and PKCæ enrichment at the centrosomes. However, the mitotic spindle showed a reduction in the pixel intensity of microtubules and also a reduction in the number of cells in each of the M-phase stages. A peptide activation inhibitor of ERK was also used. Our results indicated a decrease in mitotic spindle microtubules and an absence of cells in most of the M-phase stages. GSK3â and PKCæ enrichment were however not inhibited at the centrosomes. Taken together, the kinases GSK3â and PKCæ may not function as a part of the MAPK pathway to regulate the mitotic spindle.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Identification of novel genetic mechanisms required for bacterial resistance to antimicrobial peptides

Description

The study of bacterial resistance to antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is a significant area of interest as these peptides have the potential to be developed into alternative drug therapies to combat

The study of bacterial resistance to antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is a significant area of interest as these peptides have the potential to be developed into alternative drug therapies to combat microbial pathogens. AMPs represent a class of host-mediated factors that function to prevent microbial infection of their host and serve as a first line of defense. To date, over 1,000 AMPs of various natures have been predicted or experimentally characterized. Their potent bactericidal activities and broad-based target repertoire make them a promising next-generation pharmaceutical therapy to combat bacterial pathogens. It is important to understand the molecular mechanisms, both genetic and physiological, that bacteria employ to circumvent the bactericidal activities of AMPs. These understandings will allow researchers to overcome challenges posed with the development of new drug therapies; as well as identify, at a fundamental level, how bacteria are able to adapt and survive within varied host environments. Here, results are presented from the first reported large scale, systematic screen in which the Keio collection of ~4,000 Escherichia coli deletion mutants were challenged against physiologically significant AMPs to identify genes required for resistance. Less than 3% of the total number of genes on the E. coli chromosome was determined to contribute to bacterial resistance to at least one AMP analyzed in the screen. Further, the screen implicated a single cellular component (enterobacterial common antigen, ECA) and a single transporter system (twin-arginine transporter, Tat) as being required for resistance to each AMP class. Using antimicrobial resistance as a tool to identify novel genetic mechanisms, subsequent analyses were able to identify a two-component system, CpxR/CpxA, as a global regulator in bacterial resistance to AMPs. Multiple previously characterized CpxR/A members, as well as members found in this study, were identified in the screen. Notably, CpxR/A was found to transcriptionally regulate the gene cluster responsible for the biosynthesis of the ECA. Thus, a novel genetic mechanism was uncovered that directly correlates with a physiologically significant cellular component that appears to globally contribute to bacterial resistance to AMPs.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Plasmodium population structure in the context of malaria control and elimination

Description

Malaria is a vector-borne parasitic disease affecting tropical and subtropical regions. Regardless control efforts, malaria incidence is still incredible high with 219 million clinical cases and an estimated 660,000 related

Malaria is a vector-borne parasitic disease affecting tropical and subtropical regions. Regardless control efforts, malaria incidence is still incredible high with 219 million clinical cases and an estimated 660,000 related deaths (WHO, 2012). In this project, different population genetic approaches were explored to characterize parasite populations. The goal was to create a framework that considered temporal and spatial changes of Plasmodium populations in malaria surveillance. This is critical in a vector borne disease in areas of low transmission where there is not accurate information of when and where a patient was infected. In this study, fragment analysis data and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) from South American samples were used to characterize Plasmodium population structure, patterns of migration and gene flow, and discuss approaches to differentiate reinfection vs. recrudescence cases in clinical trials. A Bayesian approach was also applied to analyze the Plasmodium population history by inferring genealogies using microsatellites data. Specifically, fluctuations in the parasite population and the age of different parasite lineages were evaluated through time in order to relate them with the malaria control plan in force. These studies are important to understand the turnover or persistence of "clones" circulating in a specific area through time and consider them in drug efficacy studies. Moreover, this methodology is useful for assessing changes in malaria transmission and for more efficiently manage resources to deploy control measures in locations that act as parasite "sources" for other regions. Overall, these results stress the importance of monitoring malaria demographic changes when assessing the success of elimination programs in areas of low transmission.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Genetics of functional AcrAB-TolC tripartite complex assembly

Description

Intrinsic antibiotic resistance is of growing concern in modern medical treatment. The primary action of multidrug resistant strains is through over-expression of active transporters which recognize a broad range of

Intrinsic antibiotic resistance is of growing concern in modern medical treatment. The primary action of multidrug resistant strains is through over-expression of active transporters which recognize a broad range of antibiotics. In Escherichia coli, the TolC-AcrAB complex has become a model system to understand antibiotic efflux. While the structures of these three proteins (and many of their homologs) are known, the exact mechanisms of interaction are still poorly understood. By mutational analysis of the TolC turn 1 residues, a drug hypersensitive mutant has been identified which is defective in functional interactions with AcrA and AcrB. Antibiotic resistant revertants carry alterations in both TolC and AcrA act by stabilizing functional complex assembly and opening of the TolC aperture, as monitored by stability of a labile TolC mutant and sensitivity to vancomycin, respectively. Alterations in the AcrB periplasmic hairpin loops lead to a similar antibiotic hypersensitivity phenotype and destabilized complex assembly. Likewise, alterations in TolC which constitutively open the aperture suppress this antibiotic sensitivity. Suppressor alterations in AcrA and AcrB partially restore antibiotic resistance by mediating stability of the complex. The AcrA suppressor alterations isolated in these studies map to the three crystallized domains and it is concluded they alter the AcrA conformation such that it is permanently fixed in an active state, which wild type only transiently goes through when activated by AcrB. Through this genetic evidence, a direct interaction between TolC and AcrB which is stabilized by AcrA has been proposed. In addition to stabilizing the interactions between TolC and AcrB, AcrA is also responsible for triggering opening of the TolC aperture by mediating energy flow from AcrB to TolC. By permanently altering the conformation of AcrA, suppressor mutants allow defective TolC or AcrB mutants to regain functional interactions lost by the initial mutations. The data provide the genetic proof for direct interaction between AcrB and that AcrA mediated opening of TolC requires AcrB as a scaffold.

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Date Created
  • 2012