Matching Items (5)

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Synthesis and Characterization of LD2 Peptide Analogs to Inhibit Focal Adhesion Kinase in Cancer

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In cancer, various genetic and epigenetic alterations cause cancer cells to hyperproliferate and to bypass the survival and migration mechanisms that typically regulate healthy cells. The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) gene produces FAK, a protein that has been implicated in

In cancer, various genetic and epigenetic alterations cause cancer cells to hyperproliferate and to bypass the survival and migration mechanisms that typically regulate healthy cells. The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) gene produces FAK, a protein that has been implicated in tumor progression in various cancers. Compared with normal tissue counterparts, FAK is overexpressed in many cancers. FAK is therefore a promising cancer drug target due to its demonstrated role in cancer invasion and metastasis and inhibition of FAK is important to achieve an optimal tumor response. Small molecule FAK inhibitors have been shown to decrease tumor growth and metastasis in several preclinical trials. However, these inhibitors focus narrowly on the enzymatic portion of FAK and neglect its scaffolding function, leaving FAK’s scaffolding of oncogenic drivers intact. Paxillin, a major focal adhesion-associated protein, binds to FAK, enabling it to localize to focal adhesions, and this is essential for FAK’s activation and function. Therefore, disrupting the protein-protein interaction between FAK and paxillin has been hypothesized to prevent tumor progression. The binding of FAK to paxillin at its focal adhesion targeting (FAT) domain is mediated by two highly conserved leucine-rich sequences, the leucine-aspartic acid (LD) motifs LD2 and LD4. The purpose of this project was to develop novel stapled LD2 peptide analogs that target the protein-protein interaction of FAT to LD2. Peptide stapling was performed to enhance the pharmacological performance of the LD2 peptide analogs. Based on the native LD2 peptide sequence, stapled LD2 peptide analogs were developed with the intent to improve efficacy of cell permeability, while maintaining or improving FAK binding. The LD2 peptide analogs were characterized via surface plasmon resonance, fluorescence polarization, immunofluorescence, and circular dichroism spectroscopy. Successful LD2 stapled peptide analogs can be therapeutically relevant inhibitors of the FAT-LD2 protein-protein interaction in cancer and have the potential for greater efficacy in FAK inhibition, proteolytic resistance, and cell permeability, which is key in preventing tumor progression in cancer.

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2019-05

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Organic functional group transformations in experimental hydrothermal systems

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Hydrothermal systems are not the typical environments in which organic chemistry is studied. However the organic reactions happening there are increasingly implicated in non-trivial geochemical processes. For example, the origins of life, the formation and degradation of petroleum, and feeding

Hydrothermal systems are not the typical environments in which organic chemistry is studied. However the organic reactions happening there are increasingly implicated in non-trivial geochemical processes. For example, the origins of life, the formation and degradation of petroleum, and feeding the deep biosphere. These are environments where water is heated and pressurized until it has a polarity more typical of an organic solvent and an increased dissociation constant that decreases its pH. In addition, these environments host many transition metal oxide and sulfide minerals that are not inert bystanders to the chemistry happening around them. This thesis takes from the environment the complicated matrix of hot pressurized water, organic material, and minerals, and breaks it down, systematically, in the laboratory to probe the effects hydrothermal conditions and minerals have on the reactivity of model organic compounds. I conducted experiments at 300°C and 100 MPa using water, organic reactants, and minerals. Methyl- and dimethyl-cyclohexane based reactants provided regio and sterio-chemical markers to indicate reaction mechanisms. Without minerals, I found that the cyclic alkanes undergo a series of reversible stepwise oxidation and hydration reactions forming alkenes-alcohols-ketones, and alkenes-dienes-aromatic rings. I also found the reactions to be reversible; the ketone was readily reduced to the alkane. When the reactions were carried out in the presence of minerals, there were sometimes dramatic effects including reaction rate enhancement and changes in product distributions. Minerals pushed the reaction in the direction of oxidation or reduction depending on the type of mineral used. The hydration reaction could be essentially “turned off” using pyrite (FeS2) and troilite (FeS), which eliminated formation of ketone products. In contrast, hematite (Fe2O3) and magnetite (Fe3O4) favored the hydration reaction and enhanced ketone production. Sphalerite (ZnS) was shown to act as a heterogeneous catalysis for alkane isomerization by activating the C-H bond and increasing reaction rates until thermodynamic equilibrium was reached. This suggests that the types of minerals present in hydrothermal environments will affect the functional group composition of organic material. Minerals and hot pressurized water may also have useful applications in organic chemistry as “green” reactants and catalysts.

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Date Created
2013

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Factors that contribute to organic chemistry performance

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Guided by cognitive, socio-cognitive, and socio-cultural learning theories, large-scale studies over multiple semesters, multiple instructors and at two different institutions have been performed in order to understand the factors that contribute to student performance in general organic chemistry. Students’ cognitive

Guided by cognitive, socio-cognitive, and socio-cultural learning theories, large-scale studies over multiple semesters, multiple instructors and at two different institutions have been performed in order to understand the factors that contribute to student performance in general organic chemistry. Students’ cognitive abilities were assessed in a new way based on a categorization of problem types in a standard organic chemistry curriculum. Problem types that required higher cognitive load were found to be more predictive of overall course performance. However, student performance on high cognitive load problems was different when compared in terms of non-cognitive factors, e.g. whether they were pre-health students or not. These results suggested that organic chemistry performance may be significantly influenced by non-cognitive factors. Students’ motivation and related self-regulation factors were then studied using an instrument specifically designed for general organic chemistry, the Organic Chemistry Motivation Survey. Of all the factors examined, self-efficacy was found to be the most significant predictor of performance. Socio-cultural factors were also studied using a newly developed instrument for measuring college students’ cultural and social capital, the Science Capital Questionnaire (SCQ). Of the different socio-cultural variables measured by the SCQ, students’ social connections in college were found to be most predictive of organic chemistry performance. Finally, cognitive and socio-cognitive variables were studied together in the context of gender differences in organic chemistry. Females were found to underperform in comparison to the males. This gap was found to be alarmingly large on the basis of final letter grade, in some semesters the percentage of males earning an A grade was twice as large as that for females. Spatial ability was not a factor that contributed to this difference, nor was the gender of the instructor. Instead, self-efficacy was found to be both significantly different between males and females, and also the factor that connected most strongly to course performance. It is suggested that sociocultural factors be the subject of further study in college science courses.

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Date Created
2018

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Identification of biomolecular building blocks by recognition tunneling: stride towards nanopore sequencing of biomolecules

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DNA, RNA and Protein are three pivotal biomolecules in human and other organisms, playing decisive roles in functionality, appearance, diseases development and other physiological phenomena. Hence, sequencing of these biomolecules acquires the prime interest in the scientific community. Single molecular

DNA, RNA and Protein are three pivotal biomolecules in human and other organisms, playing decisive roles in functionality, appearance, diseases development and other physiological phenomena. Hence, sequencing of these biomolecules acquires the prime interest in the scientific community. Single molecular identification of their building blocks can be done by a technique called Recognition Tunneling (RT) based on Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM). A single layer of specially designed recognition molecule is attached to the STM electrodes, which trap the targeted molecules (DNA nucleoside monophosphates, RNA nucleoside monophosphates or amino acids) inside the STM nanogap. Depending on their different binding interactions with the recognition molecules, the analyte molecules generate stochastic signal trains accommodating their “electronic fingerprints”. Signal features are used to detect the molecules using a machine learning algorithm and different molecules can be identified with significantly high accuracy. This, in turn, paves the way for rapid, economical nanopore sequencing platform, overcoming the drawbacks of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) techniques.

To read DNA nucleotides with high accuracy in an STM tunnel junction a series of nitrogen-based heterocycles were designed and examined to check their capabilities to interact with naturally occurring DNA nucleotides by hydrogen bonding in the tunnel junction. These recognition molecules are Benzimidazole, Imidazole, Triazole and Pyrrole. Benzimidazole proved to be best among them showing DNA nucleotide classification accuracy close to 99%. Also, Imidazole reader can read an abasic monophosphate (AP), a product from depurination or depyrimidination that occurs 10,000 times per human cell per day.

In another study, I have investigated a new universal reader, 1-(2-mercaptoethyl)pyrene (Pyrene reader) based on stacking interactions, which should be more specific to the canonical DNA nucleosides. In addition, Pyrene reader showed higher DNA base-calling accuracy compare to Imidazole reader, the workhorse in our previous projects. In my other projects, various amino acids and RNA nucleoside monophosphates were also classified with significantly high accuracy using RT. Twenty naturally occurring amino acids and various RNA nucleosides (four canonical and two modified) were successfully identified. Thus, we envision nanopore sequencing biomolecules using Recognition Tunneling (RT) that should provide comprehensive betterment over current technologies in terms of time, chemical and instrumental cost and capability of de novo sequencing.

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Date Created
2016

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Electrochemistry of palladium with emphasis on size dependent electrochemistry of water soluble palladium nanoparticles

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Palladium metal in its various forms has been heavily studied for many catalytic, hydrogen storage and sensing applications and as an electrocatalyst in fuel cells. A short review on various applications of palladium and the mechanism of Pd nanoparticles synthesis

Palladium metal in its various forms has been heavily studied for many catalytic, hydrogen storage and sensing applications and as an electrocatalyst in fuel cells. A short review on various applications of palladium and the mechanism of Pd nanoparticles synthesis will be discussed in chapter 1. Size dependent properties of various metal nanoparticles and a thermodynamic theory proposed by Plieth to predict size dependent redox properties of metal nanoparticles will also be discussed in chapter 1.

To evaluate size dependent stability of metal nanoparticles using electrochemical techniques in aqueous media, a synthetic route was designed to produce water soluble Pd nanoparticles. Also, a purification technique was developed to obtain monodisperse metal nanoparticles to study size dependent stability using electrochemical methods. Chapter 2 will describe in detail the synthesis, characterization and size dependent anodic dissolution studies of water soluble palladium nanoparticles.

The cost associated with using expensive metal catalysts can further decreased by using the underpotential deposition (UPD) technique, in which one metal is electrodeposited in monolayer or submonolayer form on a different metal substrate. Electrochemically, this process can be detected by the presence of a deposition peak positive to the bulk deposition potential in a cyclic voltammetry (CV) experiment. The difference between the bulk deposition potential and underpotential deposition peak (i.e. the UPD shift), which is a measure of the energetics of the monolayer deposition step, depends on the work function difference between the metal pairs. Chapter 3 will explore how metal nanoparticles of different sizes will change the energetics of the UPD phenomenon, using the UPD of Cu on palladium nanoparticles as an example. It will be shown that the UPD shift depends on the size of the nanoparticle substrate in a way that is understandable based on the Plieth model.

High electrocatalytic activity of palladium towards ethanol oxidation in an alkaline medium makes it an ideal candidate for the anode electrocatalyst in direct ethanol based fuel cells (DEFCs). Chapter 4 will explore the poisoning of the catalytic activity of palladium in the presence of halide impurities, often used in synthesis of palladium nanoparticles as precursors or shape directing agents.

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2016