Matching Items (26)

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Exploration of Enzymatic Efficiency in Double-Stranded DNA by Uracil-DNA Glycosylase and Optimization of Glycosylation Reaction of DNA Precursor

Description

The two chapters of this thesis focus on different aspects of DNA and the properties of nucleic acids as the whole. Chapter 1 focuses on the structure of DNA and

The two chapters of this thesis focus on different aspects of DNA and the properties of nucleic acids as the whole. Chapter 1 focuses on the structure of DNA and its relationship to enzymatic efficiency. Chapter 2 centers itself on threose nucleic acid and optimization of a step in the path to its synthesis. While Chapter 1 discusses DNA and Uracil-DNA Glycosylase with regards to the base excision repair pathway, Chapter 2 focuses on chemical synthesis of an intermediate in the pathway to the synthesis of TNA, an analogous structure with a different saccharide in the sugar-phosphate backbone.
Chapter 1 covers the research under Dr. Levitus. Four oligonucleotides were reacted for zero, five, and thirty minutes with uracil-DNA glycosylase and subsequent addition of piperidine. These oligonucleotides were chosen based on their torsional rigidities as predicted by past research and predictions. The objective was to better understand the relationship between the sequence of DNA surrounding the incorrect base and the enzyme’s ability to remove said base in order to prepare the DNA for the next step of the base excision repair pathway. The first pair of oligonucleotides showed no statistically significant difference in enzymatic efficiency with p values of 0.24 and 0.42, while the second pair had a p value of 0.01 at the five-minute reaction. The second pair is currently being researched at different reaction times to determine at what point the enzyme seems to equilibrate and react semi-equally with all sequences of DNA.
Chapter 2 covers the research conducted under Dr. Chaput. Along the TNA synthesis pathway, the nitrogenous base must be added to the threofuranose sugar. The objective was to optimize the original protocol of Vorbrüggen glycosylation and determine if there were better conditions for the synthesis of the preferred regioisomer. This research showed that toluene and ortho-xylene were more preferable as solvents than the original anhydrous acetonitrile, as the amount of preferred isomer product far outweighed the amount of side product formed, as well as improving total yield overall. The anhydrous acetonitrile reaction had a final yield of 60.61% while the ortho-xylene system had a final yield of 94.66%, an increase of approximately 32%. The crude ratio of preferred isomer to side product was also improved, as it went from 18% undesired in anhydrous acetonitrile to 4% undesired in ortho-xylene, both values normalized to the preferred regioisomer.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05

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Synthesis of Hybrid DNA-Protein Nanostructures

Description

While DNA and protein nanotechnologies are promising avenues for nanotechnology on their own, merging the two could create more diverse and functional structures. In order to create hybrid structures, the

While DNA and protein nanotechnologies are promising avenues for nanotechnology on their own, merging the two could create more diverse and functional structures. In order to create hybrid structures, the protein will have to undergo site-specific modification, such as the incorporation of an unnatural amino, p-azidophenylalanine (AzF), via Shultz amber codon suppression method, which can then participate in click chemistry with modified DNA. These newly synthesized structures will then be able to self-assemble into higher order structures. Thus far, a surface exposed residue on the aldolase protein has been mutated into an amber stop codon. The next steps are to express the protein with the unnatural amino acid, allow it to participate in click chemistry, and visualize the hybrid structure. If the structure is correct, it will be able to self-assemble.

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Date Created
  • 2017-05

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Aptamer-functionalized Hydrogel for the Capture and Release of CCRF-CEM Leukemia Cancer Cells

Description

The main objective of this project is to create a hydrogel based material system to capture and release CCRF-CEM Leukemia cancer cells via chemo-mechanical modulation. This system is composed of

The main objective of this project is to create a hydrogel based material system to capture and release CCRF-CEM Leukemia cancer cells via chemo-mechanical modulation. This system is composed of an aptamer-functionalized hydrogel thin film at the bottom of a microfluidic channel, which changes its film thickness as the temperature of the fluid in the system changes. The functionalized hydrogel film has been created as the primary steps to creating the microfluidic device that could capture and release leukemia cells by turning the temperature of the fluid and length of exposure. Circulating tumor cells have recently become a highly studied area since they have become associated with the likelihood of patient survival. Further, circulating tumor cells can be used to determine changes in the genome of the cancer leading to targeted treatment. First, the aptamers were attached onto the hydrogel through an EDC/NHS reaction. The aptamers were verified to be attached onto the hydrogel through FTIR spectroscopy. The cell capture experiments were completed by exposing the hydrogel to a solution of leukemia cells for 10 minutes at room temperature. The cell release experiments were completed by exposing the hydrogel to a 40°C solution. Several capture and release experiments were completed to measure how many cells could be captured, how quickly, and how many cells captured were released. The aptamers were chemically attached to the hydrogel. 300 cells per square millimeter could be captured at a time in a 10 minute time period and released in a 5 minute period. Of the cells captured, 96% of them were alive once caught. 99% of cells caught were released once exposed to elevated temperature. The project opens the possibility to quickly and efficiently capture and release tumor cells using only changes in temperature. Further, most of the cells that were captured were alive and nearly all of those were released leading to high survival and capture efficiency.

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Construct Design, Protein Expression, and Purification of a Human Dopamine Receptor

Description

The dopamine 2 receptor (D2R) is a Class A GPCR which is essential for signaling in the nervous system, and has been implicated in numerous illnesses. While there are over

The dopamine 2 receptor (D2R) is a Class A GPCR which is essential for signaling in the nervous system, and has been implicated in numerous illnesses. While there are over 50 currently approved drugs which act on D2R, the structure has never been determined in detail. Although crystallography has historically been difficult with GPCRs, in recent years many structures have been solved using lipidic cubic phase (LCP) crystallization techniques. Sample preparation for LCP crystallization typically requires optimization of genetic constructs, recombinant expression, and purification techniques in order to produce a sample with sufficient stability and homogeneity. This study compares several genetic constructs utilizing different promoters, fusion proteins, fusion positions, and truncations in order to determine a high quality construct for LCP crystallization of
D2R. All constructs were expressed using the Bac-to-bac baculovirus expression system, then extracted with n-Dodecyl-β-D-Maltoside (DDM) and purified using metal affinity chromatography. Samples were then tested for quantity, purity, and homogeneity using SDS-PAGE, western blot, and size-exclusion chromatography. High quality samples were chosen based on insect cell expression levels, purification yield, and stability estimated by the levels of homomeric protein relative to aggregated protein. A final construct was chosen with which to continue future studies in optimization of thermal stability and crystallization conditions. Future work on this project is required to produce a sample amenable to crystallization. Screening of ligands for co-crystallization,
thermostabilizing point mutations, and potentially optimization of extraction and purification techniques prior to crystallization trials. Solving the D2R structure will lead to an increased understanding of its signaling mechanism and the mechanisms of currently approved drugs, while also providing a basis for more effective structure-based drug design.

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Early Detection of MicroRNA Biomolecular Markers using CRISPR-Cas12a

Description

Extensive efforts have been made to develop efficient and low-cost methods for diagnostics to identify molecular biomarkers that are linked to a wide array of conditions, including cancer. A highly

Extensive efforts have been made to develop efficient and low-cost methods for diagnostics to identify molecular biomarkers that are linked to a wide array of conditions, including cancer. A highly developed method includes utilizing the gene-editing enzyme CRISPR-Cas12a (Cpf1), which demonstrates double-stranded DNase activity with RuvC catalytic domain with high sensitivity and specificity. This DNase activity is RNA-guided and requires a T-rich PAM site on the target sequence for functional cleavage. There have been recent efforts to utilize this DNase activity of Cas12a by combining it with isothermal amplification and analysis by lateral strip tests. This project examined CRISPR-based early detection of microRNA biomarkers. MicroRNA are short RNA molecules that have large roles in post-transcriptional gene regulation. However, due the short length of microRNA and its single-stranded nature, it is challenging to use Cas12a for microRNA detection using existing methods. Thus, this project investigated the potential of two microRNA detection strategies for recognition by CRISPR-Cas12a. These methods were microRNA-splinted ligation with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and MicroRNA-specific reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR). Gel imaging demonstrated effective amplification of ligated DNA through microRNA-splinted ligation with PCR/RPA. In addition, lateral strips tests showed effective cleavage of the target sequences by Cas12a. However, RT-PCR method demonstrated low amplification by PCR and inefficient poly(A) elongation. This project paves the way for the detection of an extensive range of microRNA biomarkers that are linked to an array of diseases. Future directions include analysis and modifications of RT-PCR method to improve experimental results, extending these detection methods to a larger range of microRNA sequences, and eventually utilizing them for detection in human samples.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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A Smart Shipping Incubator for Biodosimetry Logistics in Radiation Countermeasure Operations

Description

Mass nuclear catastrophe is a serious concern for society at large when considering the rising threat of terrorism and the risks associated with harnessing nuclear energy. In the case of

Mass nuclear catastrophe is a serious concern for society at large when considering the rising threat of terrorism and the risks associated with harnessing nuclear energy. In the case of a mass nuclear/radiological event that requires hundreds of thousands of individuals to be assessed for radiation exposure, a rapid biodosimetry triage tool is crucial [1]. The Cytokinesis Block Micronucleus Assay (CBMN) is a promising cytogenetic biodosimetry assay for triage [2]; however, it requires shipping samples to a central laboratory (1-3 days) followed by a lengthy cell culture process (~3 days) before the first dose estimate can be available. The total ~ 1 week response time is too long for effective medical care intervention. A shipping incubator could cut the response time in half (~3 days) by culturing samples in transit; however, possible shipping delays beyond 2 days without the addition of a necessary reagent (Cyto-B) would ruin the integrity of the samples—for accurate CBMN assay endpoint observation, Cyto-B must be added within a 24-44 hour window after sample culture is initiated. Here, we propose a “Smart” Shipping Incubator (SSI) that can add Cyto-B while samples are in transit through a centrifugal system equipped with microfluidic capillary valve caps. The custom centrifugal system was constructed with CNC machined and 3D printed plastic parts, controlled by a custom printed circuit board (PBC) microcontroller, and housed inside a commercial shipping incubator (iQ5 from MicroQ Technologies). Teflon-coated, pre-pulled glass micropipettes (FivePhoton BioChemicals) were used as microfluidic capillary valve caps. Release of Cyto-B was characterized by a desktop centrifugal system at different tip sizes and relative centrifugal forces (RCFs). A theoretical model of Cyto-B release was also deduced to aid the optimization of the process. The CBMN assay was conducted both in the SSI with centrifugal Cyto-B release and in a standard CO2 incubator with manual addition of Cyto-B as the control. The expected mechanical shock during shipment was measured to be less than 25g. Optimal Cyto-B release was found to be at 35g RCF with a Teflon-coated 40 µm tip. Similar CBMN dose curves of micronuclei per binucleated cells (MN/BN) vs. exposed radiation (Gy) were produced for samples assessed conventionally and with the SSI. The similarities between the two methods suggest that centrifugation does not significantly affect the CBMN assay.

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Date Created
  • 2019-12

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Synthesis of Enzyme-Mimetic Catalysts

Description

The synthesis of the bis(2-diphenylphosphinoethyl)amine chelating ligand (1) was a crucial component in the preparation of non-canonical amino acids (NCAAs) throughout the project. Studies in this project indicated the need

The synthesis of the bis(2-diphenylphosphinoethyl)amine chelating ligand (1) was a crucial component in the preparation of non-canonical amino acids (NCAAs) throughout the project. Studies in this project indicated the need to isolate the ligand from its hydrochloride salt form seen in (1) which led to the synthesis of the brown oil, (Ph2PCH2CH2)2NH, (2). The ligand features a phosphine-nitrogen-phosphine group that is not observed in existing NCAAs. Phosphine groups are rarely seen in existing NCAAs and avoided by biochemists because they tend to oxidize before metal addition. In this project, (1) was used in a 1-[bis(dimethylamino)methylene]-1H-1,2,3-triazolo[4,5-b]pyridinium 3-oxid hexafluorophosphate (HATU) mediated method and palladium-catalyzed method to tether an amino acid to the nitrogen atom of the ligand framework. Both methods were monitored through the use of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. While the palladium catalyzed method exhibited little to no coupling, the 31P NMR spectrum obtained for the HATU mediated method did reveal that some coupling had occurred. The unsuccessful attempts to tether an amino acid to (1) led to the hypothesis that the phosphine groups were interfering with the palladium catalyst during the cross-coupling reaction. In an effort to test this hypothesis, (2) was reacted with the dimer, [Rh(nbd)Cl]2, to coordinate the rhodium metal to the free phosphorous arms and the nitrogen atom of the isolated PNP ligand. The PNP-based metal complex was used in the palladium catalyzed method, but cross-coupling was not observed. The new PNP-based metal complex was investigated to demonstrate that it exhibits moisture and air stability.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

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Investigating the Stability of DNA Origami Structures in Buffer Solutions

Description

DNA nanotechnology uses the reliability of Watson-Crick base pairing to program and generate two-dimensional and three-dimensional nanostructures using single-stranded DNA as the structural material. DNA nanostructures show great promise for

DNA nanotechnology uses the reliability of Watson-Crick base pairing to program and generate two-dimensional and three-dimensional nanostructures using single-stranded DNA as the structural material. DNA nanostructures show great promise for the future of bioengineering, as there are a myriad of potential applications that utilize DNA’s chemical interactivity and ability to bind other macromolecules and metals. DNA origami is a method of constructing nanostructures, which consists of a long “scaffold” strand folded into a shape by shorter “staple” oligonucleotides. Due to the negative charge of DNA molecules, divalent cations, most commonly magnesium, are required for origami to form and maintain structural integrity. The experiments in this paper address the discrepancy between salt concentrations required for origami stability and the salt concentrations present in living systems. The stability of three structures, a two-dimensional triangle, a three-dimensional solid cuboid and a three-dimensional wireframe icosahedron were examined in buffer solutions containing various concentrations of salts. In these experiments, DNA origami structures remained intact in low-magnesium conditions that emulate living cells, supporting their potential for widespread biological application in the future.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Polymer-gold composite particles: synthesis, characterization, application, and beyond

Description

Polymer-gold composite particles are of tremendous research interests. Contributed by their unique structures, these particles demonstrate superior properties for optical, catalytic and electrical applications. Moreover, the incorporation of “smart” polymers

Polymer-gold composite particles are of tremendous research interests. Contributed by their unique structures, these particles demonstrate superior properties for optical, catalytic and electrical applications. Moreover, the incorporation of “smart” polymers into polymer-gold composite particles enables the composite particles synergistically respond to environment-stimuli like temperature, pH and light with promising applications in multiple areas.

A novel Pickering emulsion polymerization route is found for synthesis of core-shell structured polymer-gold composite particles. It is found that the surface coverage of gold nanoparticles (AuNP) on a polystyrene core is influenced by gold nanoparticle concentration and hydrophobicity. More importantly, the absorption wavelength of polystyrene-gold composite particles is tunable by adjusting AuNP interparticle distance. Further, core-shell structured polystyrene-gold composite particles demonstrate excellent catalyst recyclability.

Asymmetric polystyrene-gold composite particles are successfully synthesized via seeded emulsion polymerization, where AuNPs serve as seeds, allowing the growth of styrene monomers/oligomers on them. These particles also demonstrate excellent catalyst recyclability. Further, monomers of “smart” polymers, poly (N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm), are successfully copolymerized into asymmetric composite particles, enabling these particles’ thermo-responsiveness with significant size variation around lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of 31°C. The significant size variation gives rise to switchable scattering intensity property, demonstrating potential applications in intensity-based optical sensing.

Multipetal and dumbbell structured gold-polystyrene composite particles are also successfully synthesized via seeded emulsion polymerization. It is intriguing to observe that by controlling reaction time and AuNP size, tetrapetal-structured, tripetal-structured and dumbbell-structured gold-polystyrene are obtained. Further, “smart” PNIPAm polymers are successfully copolymerized into dumbbell-shaped particles, showing significant size variation around LCST. Self-modulated catalytic activity around LCST is achieved for these particles. It is hypothesized that above LCST, the significant shrinkage of particles limits diffusion of reaction molecules to the surface of AuNPs, giving a reduced catalytic activity.

Finally, carbon black (CB) particles are successfully employed for synthesis of core- shell PNIPAm/polystyrene-CB particles. The thermo-responsive absorption characteristics of PNIPAm/polystyrene-CB particles enable them potentially suitable to serve as “smart” nanofluids with self-controlled temperature. Compared to AuNPs, CB particles provide desirable performance here, because they show no plasmon resonance in visible wavelength range, whereas AuNPs’ absorption in the visible wavelength range is undesirable.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Conductive polymeric binder for lithium-ion battery anode

Description

Tin (Sn) has a high-specific capacity (993 mAhg-1) as an anode material for Li-ion batteries. To overcome the poor cycling performance issue caused by its large volume expansion and pulverization

Tin (Sn) has a high-specific capacity (993 mAhg-1) as an anode material for Li-ion batteries. To overcome the poor cycling performance issue caused by its large volume expansion and pulverization during the charging and discharging process, many researchers put efforts into it. Most of the strategies are through nanostructured material design and introducing conductive polymer binders that serve as matrix of the active material in anode. This thesis aims for developing a novel method for preparing the anode to improve the capacity retention rate. This would require the anode to have high electrical conductivity, high ionic conductivity, and good mechanical properties, especially elasticity. Here the incorporation of a conducting polymer and a conductive hydrogel in Sn-based anodes using a one-step electrochemical deposition via a 3-electrode cell method is reported: the Sn particles and conductive component can be electrochemically synthesized and simultaneously deposited into a hybrid thin film onto the working electrode directly forming the anode. A well-defined three dimensional network structure consisting of Sn nanoparticles coated by conducting polymers is achieved. Such a conductive polymer-hydrogel network has multiple advantageous features: meshporous polymeric structure can offer the pathway for lithium ion transfer between the anode and electrolyte; the continuous electrically conductive polypyrrole network, with the electrostatic interaction with elastic, porous hydrogel, poly (2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid-co-acrylonitrile) (PAMPS) as both the crosslinker and doping anion for polypyrrole (PPy) can decrease the volume expansion by creating porous scaffold and softening the system itself. Furthermore, by increasing the amount of PAMPS and creating an interval can improve the cycling performance, resulting in improved capacity retention about 80% after 20 cycles, compared with only 54% of that of the control sample without PAMPS. The cycle is performed under current of 0.1 C.

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Date Created
  • 2015