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The Production of a Chimeric Monoclonal Antibody as a Therapeutic Agent Against Flaviviruses

Description

A chimeric, humanized monoclonal antibody that recognizes a highly conserved fusion loop found on flaviviruses was constructed with a geminiviral replicon and transiently expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana plants through Agrobacterium tumefaciens infiltration. Characterization and expression studies were then conducted to

A chimeric, humanized monoclonal antibody that recognizes a highly conserved fusion loop found on flaviviruses was constructed with a geminiviral replicon and transiently expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana plants through Agrobacterium tumefaciens infiltration. Characterization and expression studies were then conducted to confirm correct assembly of the antibody. Once the antibody was purified, an ELISA was conducted to validate that the antibody was able to bind to the flavivirus fusion loop.

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2018-05

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The Development of a Plant-Expressed M2e-Based Universal Influenza Vaccine

Description

Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). The ectodomain of the matrix

Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). The ectodomain of the matrix 2 protein (M2e) of influenza A, however, has demonstrated high levels of conservation. On its own it is poorly immunogenic and offers little protection against influenza infections, but by combining it with a potent adjuvant, this limitation may be overcome. Recombinant immune complexes, or antigens fused to antibodies that have been engineered to form incredibly immunogenic complexes with one another, were previously shown to be useful, immunogenic platforms for the presentation of various antigens and could provide the boost in immunogenicity that M2e needs to become a powerful universal influenza A vaccine. In this thesis, genetic constructs containing geminiviral replication proteins and coding for a consensus sequence of dimeric M2e fused to antibodies featuring complimentary epitopes and epitope tags were generated and used to transform Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The transformed bacteria was then used to cause Nicotiana benthamiana to transiently express M2e-RICs at very high levels, with enough RICs being gathered to evaluate their potency in future mouse trials. Future directions and areas for further research are discussed.

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2018-05

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Production and functional testing of a recombinant fusion protein immunotherapy for glioblastoma

Description

Fusion protein immunotherapies such as the bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) have displayed promising potential as cancer treatments capable of engaging the immune system against tumor cells. It has been shown that chlorotoxin, a 36-amino peptide found in the venom

Fusion protein immunotherapies such as the bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) have displayed promising potential as cancer treatments capable of engaging the immune system against tumor cells. It has been shown that chlorotoxin, a 36-amino peptide found in the venom of the deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus), binds specifically to glioblastoma (GBM) cells without binding healthy tissue, making it an ideal GBM cell binding moiety for a BiTE-like molecule. However, chlorotoxin’s four disulfide bonds pose a folding challenge outside of its natural context and impede production of the recombinant protein in various expression systems, including those relying on bacteria and plants. To overcome this difficulty, we have engineered a truncated chlorotoxin variant (Cltx∆15) that contains just two of the original eight cystine residues, thereby capable of forming only a single disulfide bond while maintaining its ability to bind GBM cells. We further created a BiTE (ACDClx∆15) which tethers Cltx∆15 to a single chain ⍺-CD3 antibody in order to bring T cells into contact with GBM cells. The gene for ACDClx∆15 was cloned into a pET-11a vector for expression in Escherichia coli and isolated from inclusion bodies before purification via affinity chromatography. Immunoblot analyses confirmed that ACDClx∆15 can be expressed in E. coli and purified with high yield and purity; moreover, flow cytometry indicated that ACDClx∆15 is capable of binding GBM cells. These data warrant further investigation into the ability of ACDClx∆15 to activate T cells against GBM cells.

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2019-05

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Refining the structure of hPIRT, a modulator of TRP channels, via measurement of residual dipolar couplings in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Description

Transient receptor potential channels (TRP channels) are a family of ion channels that mediate a wide variety of sensations, including pain, temperature, and mechanosensation. Human phosphoinositide-interacting regulator of TRP (hPIRT) is a 15.5 kDa, relatively uncharacterized membrane protein that has

Transient receptor potential channels (TRP channels) are a family of ion channels that mediate a wide variety of sensations, including pain, temperature, and mechanosensation. Human phosphoinositide-interacting regulator of TRP (hPIRT) is a 15.5 kDa, relatively uncharacterized membrane protein that has been shown to modulate the activity of certain TRP channels and some other ion channels. hPIRT is also able to interact with phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P¬2), a phospholipid that modulates the activity of many important signaling proteins, including TRP channels. Some information is already known about the structure of hPIRT: it contains a relatively unstructured N-terminus, two transmembrane helices, and a juxtamembrane region at the C-terminus that plays a role in binding PI(4,5)P2 and TRPV1. However, more detailed structural data about this molecule would be very informative in understanding how these interactions occur. In order to accomplish this, this thesis investigates the measurement of residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) to refine the structure of hPIRT. RDCs are a measurable effect in NMR experiments caused by partial alignment of molecules solubilized in a weakly anisotropic medium. The resulting data set can be used to calculate bond angles within the protein relative to the axis of the external magnetic field, which will assist efforts to further constrain the structure of hPIRT.

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2017-05

Evaluation of target cell binding by an immunotherapeutic bispecific fusion protein, anti-CD3/chlorotoxin

Description

Engaging the immune system to attack neoplastic glial cells in the brain may be a promising approach to eliminate glioblastoma (GBM), a deadly form of primary brain cancer with low median survival. A bispecific fusion protein, anti-CD3/chlorotoxin (ACDClx), has been

Engaging the immune system to attack neoplastic glial cells in the brain may be a promising approach to eliminate glioblastoma (GBM), a deadly form of primary brain cancer with low median survival. A bispecific fusion protein, anti-CD3/chlorotoxin (ACDClx), has been developed to engage cytotoxic T cells for destruction against GBM with little to no expected toxicity to surrounding healthy tissue. Previously, ACDClx has been demonstrated to induce calcium flux in T cells, indicating activation when cultured with GBM cells in vitro. Here, ACDClx fails to demonstrate successful binding to the CD3 domain of the T-cell receptor on CD4 T cells in vitro and fails to bind GBM cells despite demonstrated binding of chlorotoxin to the same cell line. This data warrants further investigation into the binding characteristics of ACDClx to target cells.

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2017-05

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Expression and Purification of Viral Like Particles for Vaccines and Structural Analysis

Description

Succinylcholine-induced apnea is a common problem in pre-hospital medicine that affects 1/1800 patients who undergo rapid sequence intubation. Succinylcholine is an anesthetic that mimics the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. It binds to cholinergic receptors, blocking acetylcholine access, and causes paralysis for (normally)

Succinylcholine-induced apnea is a common problem in pre-hospital medicine that affects 1/1800 patients who undergo rapid sequence intubation. Succinylcholine is an anesthetic that mimics the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. It binds to cholinergic receptors, blocking acetylcholine access, and causes paralysis for (normally) only a short time. Butyrylcholinesterase, which is responsible for succinylcholine hydrolysis, is deficient in a small percentage of the population. Previous studies have shown that wild-type butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) can be produced in transient-expression Nicotiana benthamiana, and can reverse the effects of succinylcholine induced apnea through enzyme replacement therapy. The wild type enzyme is also capable of irreversibly binding and inactivating organophosphorus nerve agents and pesticides, and has also exhibited cocaine hydrolase activity. Super cocaine-hydrolyzing BChE mutants, which exceed 2000 times the catalytic capability of the wild-type, have been optimized and expressed in N. benthamiana. The purpose of this study was to determine whether these mutants also hydrolyze succinylcholine with improved efficiency. Variant 3 and Variant 4 exhibited catalytic efficiencies of 2.08 x 106 M-1 min-1 and 3.48 x 106 M-1 min-1, respectively, against their preferred substrate, butyrylthiocholine, in the Ellman assay. The wild-type plant-expressed BChE did exhibit hydrolysis of succinylcholine, as we had previously determined; however, neither Variant 3 nor Variant 4 demonstrated the ability to hydrolyze succinylcholine in our particular assay. Therefore, N. benthamiana-expressed Variant 3 and Variant 4 may not succeed as a dual treatment against cocaine toxicity and prolonged succinylcholine-induces paralysis.

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2017-05

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CHALLENGES IN THE EXPRESSION AND PURIFICATION OF INTERCELLULAR ADHESION MOLECULE- 1

Description

The Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1, known as CD54) is a cell surface type I transmembrane glycoprotein with a molecular weight of 85 to 110 kDa. The primary function of ICAM-1 is to provide adhesion between endothelial cells and leukocytes after

The Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 (ICAM-1, known as CD54) is a cell surface type I transmembrane glycoprotein with a molecular weight of 85 to 110 kDa. The primary function of ICAM-1 is to provide adhesion between endothelial cells and leukocytes after injury or stress. ICAM-1 is used as a receptor for various pathogens such as rhinoviruses, coxsackievirus A21 and the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. ICAM-1 contains five immunoglobulin (Ig) domains in its long N-terminal extracellular region, a hydrophobic transmembrane domain, and a small C-terminal cytoplasmic domain. The Ig domains 1-2 and Ig domains 3-4-5 have been crystallized separately and their structure solved, however the full ICAM-1 structure has not been solved. Because ICAM-1 appears to be important for the mediation of cell-to-cell communication in physiological and pathological conditions, gaining a structural understanding of the full-length membrane anchored ICAM-1 is desirable. In this context, we have transiently expressed a plant-optimized gene encoding human ICAM-1 in Nicotiana benthamiana plants using the MagnICON expression system. The plant produced ICAM-1 is forming aggregates according to previous data. Thus, the current extraction and purification protocols have been altered to include TCEP, a reducing agent. The protein was purified using TALON metal affinity resin and partially characterized using various biochemical techniques. Our results show that there is a reduction in aggregation formation with the use of TCEP.

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2015-05

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Importance of Cholesterol Depletion in Measles Virus Infection and Replication

Description

Lipid membranes are a key structure for many classes of viruses. Lipid membranes can be analyzed using the fluid mosaic model, which states that the phospholipid membrane has variable amounts of fluidity and key membrane proteins are presented in areas

Lipid membranes are a key structure for many classes of viruses. Lipid membranes can be analyzed using the fluid mosaic model, which states that the phospholipid membrane has variable amounts of fluidity and key membrane proteins are presented in areas stabilized by cholesterol-enriched platforms called lipid rafts. This project aims to further the understanding of the importance of lipid rafts in measles virus (MV) infection and replication, which has not been extensively studied. In order to do this, an MV-susceptible cell line was treated with an anti-cholesterol compound before and after measles virus infection. I found that pre-infection treatments had a marginal effect upon measles cytopathic effect (syncytia formation) or replication. Twenty-four hours post-infection treatment had a deleterious effect on cell viability, but the replication/assembly of infectious units per cell decreased importantly and in dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, by measuring the susceptibility to neutralization of infectious particles obtained from MBCD treated cells, I determined the importance of lipid microdomain environment on the stability of infectious particles. Increased anti-cholesterol treatment enhanced the susceptibility of MV to neutralization. Future studies are proposed to assess the properties of cholesterol depleted viral infectious units.

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2015-05

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Is a putative plant-derived analog of the mammalian proline-rich attachment domain causing a human enzyme expressed in plants to undergo tetramerization?

Description

Variants of human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) have been designed to have high cocaine hydrolytic activity. These variants have potential pharmacological applications toward treating cocaine overdose and addiction. These enzymes must be stable in the human body over fairly long periods of

Variants of human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) have been designed to have high cocaine hydrolytic activity. These variants have potential pharmacological applications toward treating cocaine overdose and addiction. These enzymes must be stable in the human body over fairly long periods of time in order to be effective at treating cocaine addiction. Recombinantly expressed BChE, however, tends to be in monomer or dimer oligomeric forms, which are far less stable than the tetramer form of the enzyme. When BChE is transiently expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana, it is produced mainly as monomers and dimers. However, when the protein is expressed through stable transformation, it produces much greater proportions of tetramers. Tetramerization of WT human plasma derived BChE is facilitated by the binding of a proline rich peptide. In this thesis, I investigated if a putative plant-derived analog of the mammalian proline-rich attachment domain caused stably expressed cocaine hydrolase variants of human BChE to undergo tetramerization. I also examined if co-expression of peptides with known proline-rich attachment domains further shifted the monomer-tetramer ratio toward the tetramer.

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2015-05

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Teaching Biology in a Maximum-Security Prison Unit: Feedback, Notes and Recommendations from a Pilot Class

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We, a team of students and faculty in the life sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), currently teach an Introduction to Biology course in a Level 5, or maximum-security unit with the support of the Arizona Department of Corrections and

We, a team of students and faculty in the life sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), currently teach an Introduction to Biology course in a Level 5, or maximum-security unit with the support of the Arizona Department of Corrections and the Prison Education Program at ASU. This course aims to enhance current programs at the unit by offering inmates an opportunity to practice literacy and math skills, while also providing exposure to a new academic field (science, and specifically biology). Numerous studies, including a 2005 study from the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), have found that vocational programs, including prison education programs, reduce recidivism rates (ADC 2005, Esperian 2010, Jancic 1988, Steurer et al. 2001, Ubic 2002) and may provide additional benefits such as engagement with a world outside the justice system (Duguid 1992), the opportunity for inmates to revise personal patterns of rejecting education that they may regret, and the ability of inmate parents to deliberately set a good example for their children (Hall and Killacky 2008). Teaching in a maximum security prison unit poses special challenges, which include a prohibition on most outside materials (except paper), severe restrictions on student-teacher and student-student interactions, and the inability to perform any lab exercises except limited computer simulations. Lack of literature discussing theoretical and practical aspects of teaching science in such environment has prompted us to conduct an ongoing study to generate notes and recommendations from this class through the use of surveys, academic evaluation of students' work and ongoing feedback from both teachers and students to inform teaching practices in future science classes in high-security prison units.

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2015-05