Matching Items (18)

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Hydrogen metabolism in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803: insight into the light-dependent and light-independent hydrogenase activities

Description

The unicellular cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 contains a NiFe-type bidirectional hydrogenase that is capable of using reducing equivalents to reduce protons and generate H¬2. In order to achieve sustained

The unicellular cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 contains a NiFe-type bidirectional hydrogenase that is capable of using reducing equivalents to reduce protons and generate H¬2. In order to achieve sustained H2 production using this cyanobacterium many challenges need to be overcome. Reported H2 production from Synechocystis is of low rate and often transient. Results described in this dissertation show that the hydrogenase activity in Synechocystis is quite different during periods of darkness and light. In darkness, the hydrogenase enzyme acts in a truly bidirectional way and a particular H2 concentration is reached that depends upon the amount of biomass involved in H2 production. On the other hand, in the presence of light the enzyme shows only transient H2 production followed by a rapid and constitutive H2 oxidation. H2 oxidation and production were measured from a variety of Synechocystis strains in which components of the photosynthetic or respiratory electron transport chain were either deleted or inhibited. It was shown that the light-induced H2 oxidation is dependent on the activity of cytochrome b6f and photosystem I but not on the activity of photosystem II, indicating a channeling of electrons through cytochrome b6f and photosystem I. Because of the sequence similarities between subunits of NADH dehydrogenase I in E. coli and subunits of hydrogenase in Synechocystis, NADH dehydrogenase I was considered as the most likely candidate to mediate the electron transfer from hydrogenase to the membrane electron carrier plastoquinone, and a three-dimensional homology model with the associated subunits shows that structurally it is possible for the subunits of the two complexes to assemble. Finally, with the aim of improving the rate of H2 production in Synechocystis by using a powerful hydrogenase enzyme, a mutant strain of Synechocystis was created in which the native hydrogenase was replaced with the hydrogenase from Lyngbya aestuarii BL J, a strain with higher capacity for H2 production. H2 production was detected in this Synechocystis mutant strain, but only in the presence of external reductants. Overall, this study emphasizes the importance of redox partners in determining the direction of H2 flux in Synechocystis.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Long-range microbial electron transfer: natural mechanisms and synthetic models

Description

Exoelectrogenic microorganisms can grow by transferring electrons from their internal metabolism to extracellular substrates in a process known as extracellular electron transfer (EET). This dissertation explores the mechanisms of EET

Exoelectrogenic microorganisms can grow by transferring electrons from their internal metabolism to extracellular substrates in a process known as extracellular electron transfer (EET). This dissertation explores the mechanisms of EET by both chemotrophic and phototrophic organisms and constructs a novel supramolecular structure that can be used as a model for microbial, long-range electron transfer. Geobacter sulfurreducens has been hypothesized to secrete and use riboflavin as a soluble, extracellular redox shuttle in conjunction with multi-heme, outer membrane, c-type cytochromes, but the required proteins and their properties have not been defined. To address the mechanism of extracellular electron transfer by G. sulfurreducens, the first part of this work explores the interaction between an outer membrane, octaheme, c-type cytochrome OmcZs from G. sulfurreducens and riboflavin. Interrogation via multiple physical techniques shows that OmcZs transfers electrons to riboflavin. By analogy to other characterized systems, riboflavin then likely interacts with extracellular acceptors directly. The second part of this work addresses the mechanisms of EET by the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. It has been hypothesized that Synechocystis employs conductive pili for production of extracellular current. However, the results herein show that a strain that does not have pili produces extracellular photocurrent in a direct electrochemical cell at a level similar to that by wild type cells. Furthermore, conductive atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging is used to show that pili produced by the wild type organism are not conductive. Thus, an alternative EET mechanism must be operable. In the third part of this work, a supramolecular structure comprised of peptide and cytochromes designed to serve as a model for long-range electron transfer through cytochrome rich environments is described. The c-type cytochromes in this synthetic nanowire retain their redox activity after assembly and have suitable characteristics for long-range electron transfer. Taken together, the results of this dissertation not only inform on natural microbial mechanisms for EET but also provide a starting point to develop novel, synthetic systems.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Characterization of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors that Regulate Human Telomerase Repeat Addition

Description

The linear chromosomes ends in eukaryotes are protected by telomeres, a nucleoprotein structure that contains telomeric DNA with repetitive sequence and associated proteins. Telomerase is an RNA-dependent DNA polymerase that

The linear chromosomes ends in eukaryotes are protected by telomeres, a nucleoprotein structure that contains telomeric DNA with repetitive sequence and associated proteins. Telomerase is an RNA-dependent DNA polymerase that adds telomeric DNA repeats to the 3'-ends of chromosomes to offset the loss of terminal DNA repeats during DNA replication. It consists of two core components: a telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) and a telomerase RNA (TR). Telomerase uses a short sequence in its integral RNA component as template to add multiple DNA repeats in a processive manner. However, it remains unclear how the telomerase utilizes the short RNA template accurately and efficiently during DNA repeat synthesis. As previously reported human telomerase nucleotide synthesis arrests upon reaching the end of its RNA template by a unique template-embedded pause signal. In this study, I demonstrate pause signal remains active following template regeneration and inhibits the intrinsic processivity and rate of telomerase repeat addition. Furthermore, I have found that the human telomerase catalytic cycle comprises a crucial and slow incorporation of the first nucleotide after template translocation. This slow nucleotide incorporation step drastically limits repeat addition processivity and rate, which is alleviated with elevated concentrations of dGTP. Additionally, molecular mechanism of the disease mutants on telomerase specific motif T, K570N, have been explored. Finally, I studied how telomerase selective inhibitor BIBR 1532 reduce telomerase repeat addition processivity by function assay. Together, these results shed new light on telomerase catalytic cycle and the importance of telomerase for biomedicine.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Electrocatalytic Comparison of [FeFe]-Hydrogenases

Description

Oxidoreductases catalyze transformations important in both bioenergetics and microbial technologies. Nonetheless, questions remain about how to tune them to modulate properties such as preference for catalysis in the oxidative or

Oxidoreductases catalyze transformations important in both bioenergetics and microbial technologies. Nonetheless, questions remain about how to tune them to modulate properties such as preference for catalysis in the oxidative or reductive direction, the potential range of activity, or coupling of multiple reactions. Using protein film electrochemistry, the features that control these properties are defined by comparing the activities of five [FeFe]-hydrogenases and two thiosulfate reductases. Although [FeFe]-hydrogenases are largely described as hydrogen evolution catalysts, the catalytic bias of [FeFe]-hydrogenases, i.e. the ratio of maximal reductive to oxidative activities, spans more than six orders of magnitude. At one extreme, two [FeFe]-hdyrogenases, Clostridium pasteuriaunum HydAII and Clostridium symbiosum HydY, are far more active for hydrogen oxidation than hydrogen evolution. On the other extreme, Clostridium pasteurianum HydAI and Clostridium acetobutylicum HydA1 have a neutral bias, in which both proton reduction and hydrogen oxidation are efficient. By investigating a collection of site-directed mutants, it is shown that the catalytic bias of [FeFe]-hydrogenases is not trivially correlated with the identities of residues in the primary or secondary coordination sphere. On the other hand, the catalytic bias of Clostridium acetobutylicum HydAI can be modulated via mutation of an amino acid residue coordinating the terminal [FeS] cluster. Simulations suggest that this change in catalytic bias may be linked to the reduction potential of the cluster.

Two of the enzymes examined in this work, Clostridium pasteurianum HydAIII and Clostridium symbiosum HydY, display novel catalytic properties. HydY is exclusively a hydrogen oxidizing catalyst, and it couples this activity to peroxide reduction activity at a rubrerythrin center in the same enzyme. On the other hand, CpIII operates only in a narrow potential window, inactivating at oxidizing potentials. This suggests it plays a novel physiological role that has not yet been identified. Finally, the electrocatalytic properties of Pyrobaculum aerophilum thiosulfate reductase with either Mo or W in the active site are compared. In both cases, the onset of catalysis corresponds to reduction of the active site. Overall, the Mo enzyme is more active, and reduces thiosulfate with less overpotential.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Fluorescent Dissolved Organic Matter in Yellowstone National Park Hot Springs

Description

I present for the first time a broad-scale assessment of dissolved organic matter in the continental hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. The concentration of dissolved organic carbon in hot

I present for the first time a broad-scale assessment of dissolved organic matter in the continental hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. The concentration of dissolved organic carbon in hot springs is highly variable, but demonstrates distinct trends with the geochemical composition of springs. The dissolved organic carbon concentrations are lowest in the hottest, most deeply sourced hot springs. Mixing of hydrothermal fluids with surface waters or reaction with buried sedimentary organic matter is typically indicated by increased dissolved organic carbon concentrations. I assessed the bulk composition of organic matter through fluorescence analysis that demonstrated different fluorescent components associated with terrestrial organic matter, microbial organic matter, and several novel fluorescent signatures unique to hot springs. One novel fluorescence signature is observed exclusively in acidic hot springs, and it is likely an end product of thermally-altered sedimentary organic matter. This acid-spring component precipitates out of solution under neutral or alkaline conditions and characterization of the precipitate revealed evidence for a highly condensed aromatic structure. This acid-spring component serves as a reliable tracer of acidic, hot water that has cycled through the subsurface. Overall, dissolved organic carbon concentrations and fluorescent features correlate with the inorganic indicators traditionally used to infer spring fluid mixing in the subsurface. Further, the fluorescence information reveals subtle differences in mixing between fluid phases that are not distinguishable through classic inorganic indicator species. My work assessing dissolved organic carbon in the Yellowstone National Park hot springs reveals that the organic matter in hydrothermal systems is different from that found in surface waters, and that the concentration and composition of hot spring dissolved organic matter reflects the subsurface geochemical and hydrological environment.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Structure and function of the homodimeric reaction center, and hydrogen production, in Heliobacterium modesticaldum

Description

The evolution of photosynthesis caused the oxygen-rich atmosphere in which we thrive today. Although the reaction centers involved in oxygenic photosynthesis probably evolved from a protein like the reaction centers

The evolution of photosynthesis caused the oxygen-rich atmosphere in which we thrive today. Although the reaction centers involved in oxygenic photosynthesis probably evolved from a protein like the reaction centers in modern anoxygenic photosynthesis, modern anoxygenic reaction centers are poorly understood. One such anaerobic reaction center is found in Heliobacterium modesticaldum. Here, the photosynthetic properties of H. modesticaldum are investigated, especially as they pertain to its unique photochemical reaction center.

The first part of this dissertation describes the optimization of the previously established protocol for the H. modesticaldum reaction center isolation. Subsequently, electron transfer is characterized by ultrafast spectroscopy; the primary electron acceptor, a chlorophyll a derivative, is reduced in ~25 ps, and forward electron transfer occurs directly to a 4Fe-4S cluster in ~650 ps without the requirement for a quinone intermediate. A 2.2-angstrom resolution X-ray crystal structure of the homodimeric heliobacterial reaction center is solved, which is the first ever homodimeric reaction center structure to be solved, and is discussed as it pertains to the structure-function relationship in energy and electron transfer. The structure has a transmembrane helix arrangement similar to that of Photosystem I, but differences in antenna and electron transfer cofactor positions explain variations in biophysical comparisons. The structure is then compared with other reaction centers to infer evolutionary hypotheses suggesting that the ancestor to all modern reaction centers could reduce mobile quinones, and that Photosystem I added lower energy cofactors to its electron transfer chain to avoid the formation of singlet oxygen.

In the second part of this dissertation, hydrogen production rates of H. modesticaldum are quantified in multiple conditions. Hydrogen production only occurs in cells grown without ammonia, and is further increased by removal of N2. These results are used to propose a scheme that summarizes the hydrogen-production metabolism of H. modesticaldum, in which electrons from pyruvate oxidation are shuttled through an electron transport pathway including the reaction center, ultimately reducing nitrogenase. In conjunction, electron microscopy images of H. modesticaldum are shown, which confirm that extended membrane systems are not exhibited by heliobacteria.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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Molecular models for conductance in junctions and electrochemical electron transfer

Description

This thesis develops molecular models for electron transport in molecular junctions and intra-molecular electron transfer. The goal is to identify molecular descriptors that afford a substantial simplification of these electronic

This thesis develops molecular models for electron transport in molecular junctions and intra-molecular electron transfer. The goal is to identify molecular descriptors that afford a substantial simplification of these electronic processes.

First, the connection between static molecular polarizability and the molecular conductance is examined. A correlation emerges whereby the measured conductance of a tunneling junction decreases as a function of the calculated molecular polarizability for several systems, a result consistent with the idea of a molecule as a polarizable dielectric. A model based on a macroscopic extension of the Clausius-Mossotti equation to the molecular domain and Simmon’s tunneling model is developed to explain this correlation. Despite the simplicity of the theory, it paves the way for further experimental, conceptual and theoretical developments in the use of molecular descriptors to describe both conductance and electron transfer.

Second, the conductance of several biologically relevant, weakly bonded, hydrogen-bonded systems is systematically investigated. While there is no correlation between hydrogen bond strength and conductance, the results indicate a relation between the conductance and atomic polarizability of the hydrogen bond acceptor atom. The relevance of these results to electron transfer in biological systems is discussed.

Hydrogen production and oxidation using catalysts inspired by hydrogenases provides a more sustainable alternative to the use of precious metals. To understand electrochemical and spectroscopic properties of a collection of Fe and Ni mimics of hydrogenases, high-level density functional theory calculations are described. The results, based on a detailed analysis of the energies, charges and molecular orbitals of these metal complexes, indicate the importance of geometric constraints imposed by the ligand on molecular properties such as acidity and electrocatalytic activity. Based on model calculations of several intermediates in the catalytic cycle of a model NiFe complex, a hypothetical reaction mechanism, which very well agrees with the observed experimental results, is proffered.

Future work related to this thesis may involve the systematic analysis of chemical reactivity in constrained geometries, a subject of importance if the context of enzymatic activity. Another, more intriguing direction is related to the fundamental issue of reformulating Marcus theory in terms of the molecular dielectric response function.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Reconstitution of the Heliobacterial Reaction Center Into Proteoliposomes and Restoration of Its Interaction with Membrane-bound Cytochrome c553

Description

To mimic the membrane environment for the photosynthetic reaction center of the photoheterotrophic Heliobacterium modesticaldum, a proteoliposome system was developed using the lipids found in native membranes, as well as

To mimic the membrane environment for the photosynthetic reaction center of the photoheterotrophic Heliobacterium modesticaldum, a proteoliposome system was developed using the lipids found in native membranes, as well as a lipid possessing a Ni(II)-NTA head group. The liposomes were also saturated with menaquinone-9 to provide further native conditions, given that menaquinone is active within the heliobacterial reaction center in some way. Purified heliobacterial reaction center was reconstituted into the liposomes and a recombinant cytochrome c553 was decorated onto the liposome surface. The native lipid-attachment sequence of cytochrome c553 was truncated and replaced with a hexahistidine tag. Thus, the membrane-anchoring observed in vivo was simulated through the histidine tag of the recombinant cytochrome binding to the Ni(II)-NTA lipid's head group. The kinetics of electron transfer in this system was measured and compared to native membranes using transient absorption spectroscopy. The preferential-orientation of reconstituted heliobacterial reaction center was also measured by monitoring the proteoliposome system's ability to reduce a soluble acceptor, flavodoxin, in both whole and detergent-solubilized proteoliposome conditions. These data demonstrate that this proteoliposome system is reliable, biomimetic, and efficient for selectively testing the function of the photosynthetic reaction center of Heliobacterium modesticaldum and its interactions with both donors and acceptors. The recombinant cytochrome c553 performs similarly to native cytochrome c553 in heliobacterial membranes. These data also support the hypothesis that the orientation of the reconstituted reaction center is inherently selective for its bacteriochlorophyll special pair directed to the outer-leaflet of the liposome.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Photophysics of bio-inspired solar energy conversion

Description

Increased global demand for energy has led to prolific use of fossil fuels, which produce and release greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. This increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide affects

Increased global demand for energy has led to prolific use of fossil fuels, which produce and release greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. This increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide affects the global weather system and has been cited as a cause for global warming. For humans to continue to meet demands for energy while reducing greenhouse emission, a sustainable, carbon-neutral energy source must be developed. The sun provides energy for the majority of life on earth, as well as the energy stored in the chemical bonds of fossil fuels. This dissertation investigates systems inspired by the biological mechanism of solar energy capture and storage. In natural photosynthesis, organisms use chlorophyll as a chromophore to absorb the sun's energy. Bio-inspired systems use close analogues like porphyrins and phthalocyanines. In this dissertation, a soluble, semiconducting porphyrin is reported. The polymer was synthesized via a Buchwald-Hartwig style coupling of porphyrin monomers which produced a polyaniline-like chain with porphyrins incorporated into the backbone. Spectroscopic and electrochemical studies were performed, which show evidence of excited state charge transfer and a first oxidation state of 0.58 V (vs SCE). These properties suggest that the polymer could be involved in excited state electron donation to fullerenes and other electron acceptors, which could be beneficial in organic photovoltaics, sensors, and other applications. Molecular dyads and triads capable of charge separation have been studied for decades, and the spectroscopic properties of two novel systems are reported in this dissertation. A peripherally-connected zinc-phthalocyanine-C60 dyad was studied, and showed excited state electron transfer from the phthalocyanine excited state to the C60, with a long-lived charge separated state. An axially-linked carotene-Si-pthalocyanine-C60 triad was studied, showing excited state electron transfer from the phthalocyanine to the C60, but fast recombination before hole transfer can occur to the carotene. Analogues of the electron transport mechanisms used in many biological systems use iron-sulfur clusters to shuttle electrons from donors to acceptors. In this dissertation, the spectroscopic properties of a de novo protein were studied. Nanosecond transient absorption was used to characterize the electron and energy transfer of an excited water-soluble porphyrin to the oxidized [FeS] clusters incorporated in the de novo protein. The triplet state of the porphyrin was strongly quenched with the holo-protein without a rise in porphyrin plus signal, suggesting that only Dexter-type energy transfer occurs between the sensitized porphyrin and the [FeS] clusters.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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The investigation and characterization of redox enzymes using protein film electrochemistry

Description

Redox reactions are crucial to energy transduction in biology. Protein film electrochemistry (PFE) is a technique for studying redox proteins in which the protein is immobilized at an electrode surface

Redox reactions are crucial to energy transduction in biology. Protein film electrochemistry (PFE) is a technique for studying redox proteins in which the protein is immobilized at an electrode surface so as to allow direct exchange of electrons. Establishing a direct electronic connection eliminates the need for redox­active mediators, thus allowing for interrogation of the redox protein of interest. PFE has proven a versatile tool that has been used to elucidate the properties of many technologically relevant redox proteins including hydrogenases, laccases, and glucose oxidase.

This dissertation is comprised of two parts: extension of PFE to a novel electrode material and application of PFE to the investigation of a new type of hydrogenase. In the first part, mesoporous antimony-doped tin oxide (ATO) is employed for the first time as an electrode material for protein film electrochemistry. Taking advantage of the excellent optical transparency of ATO, spectroelectrochemistry of cytochrome c is demonstrated. The electrochemical and spectroscopic properties of the protein are analogous to those measured for the native protein in solution, and the immobilized protein is stable for weeks at high loadings. In the second part, PFE is used to characterize the catalytic properties of the soluble hydrogenase I from Pyrococcus furiosus (PfSHI). Since this protein is highly thermostable, the temperature dependence of catalytic properties was investigated. I show that the preference of the enzyme for reduction of protons (as opposed to oxidation of hydrogen) and the reactions with oxygen are highly dependent on temperature, and the enzyme is tolerant to oxygen during both oxidative and reductive catalysis.

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Date Created
  • 2014