Matching Items (30)

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Exploration of Enzymatic Reactivity of Human Endonuclease Enzyme APE1 in Clustered DNA Damages Involving an Abasic Site

Description

This study was conducted to understand the reactivity of APE1 in repairing abasic sites associated with clustered DNA damages and to determine if the efficiency of APE1 enzyme is affected by the type of bases (purines or pyrimidines) neighboring the

This study was conducted to understand the reactivity of APE1 in repairing abasic sites associated with clustered DNA damages and to determine if the efficiency of APE1 enzyme is affected by the type of bases (purines or pyrimidines) neighboring the AP site. DNA damages are always occurring in living cells and if left uncorrected can lead to various problems such as diseases and even cell death. Cells are able to recognize and correct these DNA damages to prevent further damages to the genome, and the Base Excision Repair (BER) pathway is one of the mechanisms used in repairing DNA damages. A former student in the Levitus Lab, Elana Maria Shepherd Stennett, henceforth referred to as Elana worked on this project. She observed that the activity of the APE1 enzyme increased some when the base opposing the abasic site was changed from thymine (T) to adenine (A) while no difference was observed when the surrounding bases were changed. Thus, this experiment was conducted to further study the results she obtained and to possibly validate her findings. The AP sites used in this study are natural abasic sites created by UDG glycosylase enzyme from a double stranded uracil-containing DNA samples ordered from IDT technologies. Each reaction was carried out at physiological temperature (37degrees Celsius) and analyzed using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.

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2018-05

Intrinsic Stability and Oligomerization Dynamics of DNA Processivity Clamps

Description

Sliding clamps are ring-shaped oligomeric proteins that are essential for processive deoxyribonucleic acid replication. Although crystallographic structures of several clamps have been determined, much less is known about clamp structure and dynamics in solution. Here, we characterized the intrinsic solution

Sliding clamps are ring-shaped oligomeric proteins that are essential for processive deoxyribonucleic acid replication. Although crystallographic structures of several clamps have been determined, much less is known about clamp structure and dynamics in solution. Here, we characterized the intrinsic solution stability and oligomerization dynamics of the homodimeric Escherichia coli β and the homotrimeric Saccharomyces cerevisiae proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) clamps using single-molecule approaches. We show that E. coli β is stable in solution as a closed ring at concentrations three orders of magnitude lower than PCNA. The trimeric structure of PCNA results in slow subunit association rates and is largely responsible for the lower solution stability. Despite this large difference, the intrinsic lifetimes of the rings differ by only one order of magnitude. Our results show that the longer lifetime of the E. coli β dimer is due to more prominent electrostatic interactions that stabilize the subunit interfaces.

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2013-11-30

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The Interaction of Rubisco and Rubisco Activase: A FRET-based Study

Description

Rubisco is a very important protein which catalyzes the addition of CO2 to ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) to form two molecules of 3-phosphoglycerate in photosynthesis. Rubisco activase is the protein which functions to uninhibit Rubisco, however proof of a physical interaction

Rubisco is a very important protein which catalyzes the addition of CO2 to ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) to form two molecules of 3-phosphoglycerate in photosynthesis. Rubisco activase is the protein which functions to uninhibit Rubisco, however proof of a physical interaction has never been shown. A possible method for determining the interaction of the two proteins is by Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) based analysis of the two proteins. Attempts to get a FRET signal from these two proteins have been unsuccessful. To get better results, Ficoll 70, a crowding agent, was used. Analysis suggests that Ficoll 70 does not affect the fluorescence of Alexa-fluor 488 and Alexa-fluor 647 used to label the two proteins. Further analysis also suggests that while the Alexa label on Rubisco activase does not affect the ATPase activity of the protein, the protein also does not have a high rate of ATP turnover.

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Date Created
2015-05

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Role of RAG2 C-terminal region in enforcing appropriate recombination cleavage directed at legitimate DNA targets

Description

V(D)J Recombination is the mechanism responsible for generating diversity in the repertoire of antigen receptors of T and B cells. This recombination process proceeds in two steps: site-specific cleavage mediated lymphocyte-specific recombinase known as Recombination Activating Genes 1 and 2

V(D)J Recombination is the mechanism responsible for generating diversity in the repertoire of antigen receptors of T and B cells. This recombination process proceeds in two steps: site-specific cleavage mediated lymphocyte-specific recombinase known as Recombination Activating Genes 1 and 2 complex (RAG) at the junction of coding gene segments and their flanking recombination signal sequence (RSS) and then followed by rejoining of the double strand broken DNA by the non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) complex. Mutations and truncations of the RAG-recombinase have been found associated with genomic instability and chromosomal translocation. It has been hypothesized that these RAG mutants may have abnormality in their interactions with recombination intermediates, ultimately causing premature release of the ends for aberrant joining. Additionally, these mutations have an increase in targeting non-B type DNA instead of legitimate recombination substrates that contain RSSs. To directly test these hypotheses, we have developed a fluorescence-based detection system to monitor in real time the recombination cleavage reaction from the pre-cleavage to the post-cleavage stages and to compare RAG-DNA interactions between wild type and mutant RAG1/2 during this process. Our study provides important insight into the ability of the C-terminus of RAG to regulate RAG recombinase activity.

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2014-12

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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 its relationship to enzymatic efficiency. Chapter 2 centers itself on

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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Analysis of nucleosome dynamics by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy

Description

Nucleosomes are the basic repetitive unit of eukaryotic chromatin and are responsible for packing DNA inside the nucleus of the cell. They consist of a complex of eight histone proteins (two copies of four proteins H2A, H2B, H3 and

Nucleosomes are the basic repetitive unit of eukaryotic chromatin and are responsible for packing DNA inside the nucleus of the cell. They consist of a complex of eight histone proteins (two copies of four proteins H2A, H2B, H3 and H4) around which 147 base pairs of DNA are wrapped in ~1.67 superhelical turns. Although the nucleosomes are stable protein-DNA complexes, they undergo spontaneous conformational changes that occur in an asynchronous fashion. This conformational dynamics, defined by the "site-exposure" model, involves the DNA unwrapping from the protein core and exposing itself transiently before wrapping back. Physiologically, this allows regulatory proteins to bind to their target DNA sites during cellular processes like replication, DNA repair and transcription. Traditional biochemical assays have stablished the equilibrium constants for the accessibility to various sites along the length of the nucleosomal DNA, from its end to the middle of the dyad axis. Using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), we have established the position dependent rewrapping rates for nucleosomes. We have also used Monte Carlo simulation methods to analyze the applicability of FRET fluctuation spectroscopy towards conformational dynamics, specifically motivated by nucleosome dynamics. Another important conformational change that is involved in cellular processes is the disassembly of nucleosome into its constituent particles. The exact pathway adopted by nucleosomes is still not clear. We used dual color fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to study the intermediates during nucleosome disassembly induced by changing ionic strength. Studying the nature of nucleosome conformational change and the kinetics is very important in understanding gene expression. The results from this thesis give a quantitative description to the basic unit of the chromatin.

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Date Created
2011

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Molecular structure and dynamics of spider silk and venom proteins investigated by nuclear magnetic resonance

Description

Spider dragline silk is well known for its outstanding mechanical properties - a combination of strength and extensibility that makes it one of the toughest materials known. Two proteins, major ampullate spidroin 1 (MaSp1) and 2 (MaSp2), comprise dragline silk

Spider dragline silk is well known for its outstanding mechanical properties - a combination of strength and extensibility that makes it one of the toughest materials known. Two proteins, major ampullate spidroin 1 (MaSp1) and 2 (MaSp2), comprise dragline silk fibers. There has been considerable focus placed on understanding the source of spider silk's unique mechanical properties by investigating the protein composition, molecular structure and dynamics. Chemical compositional heterogeneity of spider silk fiber is critical to understand as it provides important information for the interactions between MaSp1 and MaSp2. Here, the amino acid composition of dragline silk protein was precisely determined using a solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) approach on hydrolyzed silk fibers. In a similar fashion, solution-state NMR was applied to probe the "13"C/"15"N incorporation in silk, which is essential to understand for designing particular solid-state NMR methods for silk structural characterization. Solid-state NMR was used to elucidate silk protein molecular dynamics and the supercontraction mechanism. A "2"H-"13"C heteronuclear correlation (HETCOR) solid-state NMR technique was developed to extract site-specific "2"H quadrupole patterns and spin-lattice relaxation rates for understanding backbone and side-chain dynamics. Using this technique, molecular dynamics were determined for a number of repetitive motifs in silk proteins - Ala residing nanocrystalline &beta-sheet; domains, 3"1"-helical regions, and, Gly-Pro-Gly-XX &beta-turn; motifs. The protein backbone and side-chain dynamics of silk fibers in both dry and wet states reveal the impact of water on motifs with different secondary structures. Spider venom is comprised of a diverse range of molecules including salts, small organics, acylpolyamines, peptides and proteins. Neurotoxins are an important family of peptides in spider venom and have been shown to target and modulate various ion channels. The neurotoxins are Cys-rich and share an inhibitor Cys knot (ICK) fold. Here, the molecular structure of one G. rosea tarantula neurotoxin, GsAF2, was determined by solution-state NMR. In addition, the interaction between neurotoxins and model lipid bilayers was probed with solid-state NMR and negative-staining (NS) transmission electron microscopy (TEM). It is shown that the neurotoxins influence lipid bilayer assembly and morphology with the formation of nanodiscs, worm-like micelles and small vesicles.

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2014

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Studying the solution behavior of DNA and DNA sliding clamps using various fluorescence techniques

Description

Solution conformations and dynamics of proteins and protein-DNA complexes are often difficult to predict from their crystal structures. The crystal structure only shows a snapshot of the different conformations these biological molecules can have in solution. Multiple different conformations can

Solution conformations and dynamics of proteins and protein-DNA complexes are often difficult to predict from their crystal structures. The crystal structure only shows a snapshot of the different conformations these biological molecules can have in solution. Multiple different conformations can exist in solution and potentially have more importance in the biological activity. DNA sliding clamps are a family of proteins with known crystal structures. These clamps encircle the DNA and enable other proteins to interact more efficiently with the DNA. Eukaryotic PCNA and prokaryotic β clamp are two of these clamps, some of the most stable homo-oligomers known. However, their solution stability and conformational equilibrium have not been investigated in depth before. Presented here are the studies involving two sliding clamps: yeast PCNA and bacterial β clamp. These studies show that the β clamp has a very different solution stability than PCNA. These conclusions were reached through various different fluorescence-based experiments, including fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), single molecule fluorescence, and various time resolved fluorescence techniques. Interpretations of these, and all other, fluorescence-based experiments are often affected by the properties of the fluorophores employed. Often the fluorescence properties of these fluorophores are influenced by their microenvironments. Fluorophores are known to sometimes interact with biological molecules, and this can have pronounced effects on the rotational mobility and photophysical properties of the dye. Misunderstanding the effect of these photophysical and rotational properties can lead to a misinterpretation of the obtained data. In this thesis, photophysical behaviors of various organic dyes were studied in the presence of deoxymononucleotides to examine more closely how interactions between fluorophores and DNA bases can affect fluorescent properties. Furthermore, the properties of cyanine dyes when bound to DNA and the effect of restricted rotation on FRET are presented in this thesis. This thesis involves studying fluorophore photophysics in various microenvironments and then expanding into the solution stability and dynamics of the DNA sliding clamps.

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Date Created
2013

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Femtosecond x-ray nanocrystallography of membrane proteins

Description

Membrane proteins are very important for all living cells, being involved in respiration, photosynthesis, cellular uptake and signal transduction, amongst other vital functions. However, less than 300 unique membrane protein structures have been determined to date, often due to difficulties

Membrane proteins are very important for all living cells, being involved in respiration, photosynthesis, cellular uptake and signal transduction, amongst other vital functions. However, less than 300 unique membrane protein structures have been determined to date, often due to difficulties associated with the growth of sufficiently large and well-ordered crystals. This work has been focused on showing the first proof of concept for using membrane protein nanocrystals and microcrystals for high-resolution structure determination. Upon determining that crystals of the membrane protein Photosystem I, which is the largest and most complex membrane protein crystallized to date, exist with only a hundred unit cells with sizes of less than 200 nm on an edge, work was done to develop a technique that could exploit the growth of the Photosystem I nanocrystals and microcrystals. Femtosecond X-ray protein nanocrystallography was developed for use at the first high-energy X-ray free electron laser, the LCLS at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, in which a liquid jet would bring fully hydrated Photosystem I nanocrystals into the interaction region of the pulsed X-ray source. Diffraction patterns were recorded from millions of individual PSI nanocrystals and data from thousands of different, randomly oriented crystallites were integrated using Monte Carlo integration of the peak intensities. The short pulses ( 70 fs) provided by the LCLS allowed the possibility to collect the diffraction data before the onset of radiation damage, exploiting the diffract-before-destroy principle. At the initial experiments at the AMO beamline using 6.9- Å wavelength, Bragg peaks were recorded to 8.5- Å resolution, and an electron-density map was determined that did not show any effects of X-ray-induced radiation damage. Recently, femtosecond X-ray protein nanocrystallography experiments were done at the CXI beamline of the LCLS using 1.3- Å wavelength, and Bragg reflections were recorded to 3- Å resolution; the data are currently being processed. Many additional techniques still need to be developed to explore the femtosecond nanocrystallography technique for experimental phasing and time-resolved X-ray crystallography experiments. The first proof-of-principle results for the femtosecond nanocrystallography technique indicate the incredible potential of the technique to offer a new route to the structure determination of membrane proteins.

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Date Created
2011

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Measurement of molecular conductance

Description

This dissertation describes the work on two projects which involves measuring molecular conductance and studying their properties on the nanoscale using various Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) techniques. The first molecule studied was a porphyrin-fullerene moiety known as a molecular Dyad

This dissertation describes the work on two projects which involves measuring molecular conductance and studying their properties on the nanoscale using various Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) techniques. The first molecule studied was a porphyrin-fullerene moiety known as a molecular Dyad for photovoltaic applications. This project is further divided into two section, the first one involving the characterization of the Dyad monolayers and conductance measurement in the dark. The Dyads are designed to form charge separated states on illumination. The lifetime of the charged states have been measured efficiently but the single-molecule conductance through the molecules have yet to be characterized. The second part of the project describes the set-up of a novel sample stage which enables the study of molecular conductance under illumination. This part also describes the subsequent study of the molecule under illumination and the observation of a unique charge-separated state. It also contains the verification of the presence of this charge-separated using other characterization techniques like transient absorption spectroscopy. The second project described in the dissertation was studying and comparing the predicted rectifying nature of two molecules, identical in every way except for one stereocenter. This project describes the formation of monolayers of the molecule on gold and then studying and analyzing the current-voltage characteristics of the molecules and looking for rectification. Both the molecules proved to be rectifying, one more than the other as predicted by theoretical calculations.

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Date Created
2011