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Toxin Level Analysis in Dogs Envenomated by Pit Vipers in Arizona

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To date, there have been few, if any, studies evaluating the venom toxin levels in dogs that have been naturally envenomated by pit vipers. Understanding venom toxin pharmacokinetics in a clinical setting is important for a variety of reasons, including

To date, there have been few, if any, studies evaluating the venom toxin levels in dogs that have been naturally envenomated by pit vipers. Understanding venom toxin pharmacokinetics in a clinical setting is important for a variety of reasons, including the potential to better elucidate treatment options, prognosis, and other factors associated with pit viper envenomation. In addition, dogs serve as a comparative species to humans for evaluating pit viper envenomations. This pilot study’s primary objective was to address the question of “What do we see?” in dogs presenting for rattlesnake envenomation. To answer this question, we obtained serum from envenomated dogs presenting at three veterinary clinics, then used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and western blot analysis to measure total venom and key toxins in sera. Phospholipase A2, a primary venom toxin, was identified in a few samples by the western blot, and contributed to the positive correlation between percent echinocytes in the blood and venom concentration. Medical data records were compared to venom concentrations measured using ELISA to determine whether there were any significant correlations. First, the hematological results were compared. Clotting times showed a strong positive correlation, clotting times and platelets showed a negative correlation, while echinocytes and platelets showed no correlation. When compared to venom concentration, clotting times showed a negative correlation, while age showed a positive correlation. Weight and platelets were also compared to venom concentration, but no significant correlations were found. The logistics of this study provided a real-world model where time elapsed between envenomation and hospital admission, thus giving a realistic look at what occurs in both animal and human medicine.

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2019-05

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Human Papillomavirus specific immune responses as biomarkers for the early detection of cervical cancer

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the causative agent of cervical cancer. Persistent infection with high-risk HPV 16, 18 or 45 species is associated with the development and progression of cervical cancer. HPV genotyping and Pap smear tests are the regular methods

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the causative agent of cervical cancer. Persistent infection with high-risk HPV 16, 18 or 45 species is associated with the development and progression of cervical cancer. HPV genotyping and Pap smear tests are the regular methods used to detect pre-invasive cervical lesions, but there is a need for developing a rapid biomarker to profile immunity to these viruses. The viral E7 oncogene is expressed in most HPV-associated cancers and anti-E7 antibodies can be detected in the blood of patients with cervical cancer. This research was focused on viral E7 oncogene expression to be used in development of low-cost point of care tests, enabling patients from low resource settings to detect the asymptotic stage of cervical cancer and be able to seek treatment early. In order to produce the E7 protein in vitro to measure antibody levels, GST tagged E7 genes from HPV 16, 18 and 45 species were inserted into the pDEST15 vector and expressed in E. coli BL21DE3 cells that were induced with 1mM of IPTG. The E7-GST fused expressed protein was then purified using glutathione beads and resolved on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Protein expression was 5.8 \u03bcg/ml for HPV 16E7 in 500 ml culture and for the 500 ml culture of HPV 18 E7 and 45 E7 were 10.5 \u03bcg/ml and 10.5 \u03bcg/ml for HPV 18E7 and 45E7 respectively. High yield values are showing high expression levels of GST-tagged E7 recombinant protein which can be used for serotyping a number of individuals. This shows that HPV E7 can be produced in large quantities that can potentially be used in point of care tests that can help identify women at risk of cervical cancer. In conclusion, the E7 protein produced in this study can potentially be used to induce humoral responses in patients\u2019 sera for understanding the immune response of cervical cancer.

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2018-12

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Circular DNA viruses identified in short-finned pilot whale and orca tissue samples

Description

Members of the Delphinidae family are widely distributed across the world’s oceans. We used a viral metagenomic approach to identify viruses in orca (Orcinus orca) and short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) muscle, kidney, and liver samples from deceased animals. From

Members of the Delphinidae family are widely distributed across the world’s oceans. We used a viral metagenomic approach to identify viruses in orca (Orcinus orca) and short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) muscle, kidney, and liver samples from deceased animals. From orca tissue samples (muscle, kidney, and liver), we identified a novel polyomavirus (Polyomaviridae), three cressdnaviruses, and two genomoviruses (Genomoviridae). In the short-finned pilot whale we were able to identify one genomovirus in a kidney sample. The presence of unclassified cressdnavirus within two samples (muscle and kidney) of the same animal supports the possibility these viruses might be widespread within the animal. The orca polyomavirus identified here is the first of its species and is not closely related to the only other dolphin polyomavirus previously discovered. The identification and verification of these viruses expands the current knowledge of viruses that are associated with the Delphinidae family.

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2021-05

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Towards understanding ssDNA viral dynamics in Marmota flaviventris (yellow-bellied marmots)

Description

Yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flavivent) are semi-fossorial ground-dwelling sciurid rodents native to the western United States. They are facultatively social and live in colonies that may contain over 50 individuals. Marmot populations are well studied in terms of their diet, life

Yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flavivent) are semi-fossorial ground-dwelling sciurid rodents native to the western United States. They are facultatively social and live in colonies that may contain over 50 individuals. Marmot populations are well studied in terms of their diet, life cycle, distribution, and behavior, however, knowledge about viruses associated with marmots is very limited. In this study we aim to identify DNA viruses by non-invasive sampling of their feces. Viral DNA was extracted from fecal material of 35 individual marmots collected in Colorado and subsequently submitted to rolling circle amplification for circular molecule enrichment. Using a viral metagenomics approach which included high-throughput sequencing and verification of viral genomes using PCR, cloning and sequencing, a diverse group of single-stranded (ss) DNA viruses were identified. Diverse ssDNA viruses were identified that belong to two established families, Genomoviridae (n=7) and Anelloviridae (n=1) and several others that belong to unclassified circular replication associated encoding single-stranded (CRESS) DNA virus groups (n=19). There were also circular DNA molecules extracted (n=4) that appear to encode one viral-like gene and are composed of <1545 nt. The viruses that belonged to the family Genomoviridae clustered with those in the Gemycircularvirus genus. The genomoviruses were extracted from 6 samples. These clustered with gemycircularvirus extracted from arachnids and feces. The anellovirus, extracted from one sample, identified here has a genome sequence that is most similar to those from other rodent species, lagomorphs, and mosquitos. The CRESS viruses identified here were extracted from 9 samples and are novel and cluster with others identified from avian species. This study gives a snapshot of viruses associated with marmots based on fecal sampling.

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2020-05

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Phage Therapy: Saguaro Cactus Soft Rot Treatment

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Phage therapy has been around for more than a century, but has regained interest in the field of medicine and holds significant potential to act as a treatment against a deadly bacterial infection in various cactus species. It was discovered

Phage therapy has been around for more than a century, but has regained interest in the field of medicine and holds significant potential to act as a treatment against a deadly bacterial infection in various cactus species. It was discovered that bacteriophages isolated from soil samples of potato plants were able to suppress Pectobacterium carotovorum, ‘Pectobacterium’ being within the family Pectobacteriaceae which contains the ‘Erwinia’ genus that causes soft rot diseases in various plants (Jones, 2012). The two scientists had co-inoculated “... the phage with the phytobacterium” (Jones, 2012) in order to suppress the growth and prevent the infection from occurring.

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2020-05

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Surveilling United States Sewage Sludge for Genetic Evidence of Genomoviridae & Microviridae Populations

Description

Following the journey through the sewerage system, wastewater is subject to a series of purification procedures, prior to water reuse and disposal of the resultant sewage sludge. Biosolids, also known as treated sewage sludge, deemed fit for application on

Following the journey through the sewerage system, wastewater is subject to a series of purification procedures, prior to water reuse and disposal of the resultant sewage sludge. Biosolids, also known as treated sewage sludge, deemed fit for application on land, is a nutrient-rich, semisolid byproduct of biological wastewater treatment. Technological progression in metagenomics has allowed for large-scale analysis of complex viral communities in a number of samples, including wastewater. Members of the Microviridae family are non-enveloped, ssDNA bacteriophages, and are known to infect enterobacteria. Members of the Genomoviridae family similarly are non-enveloped, ssDNA viruses, but are presumed to infect fungi rather than eubacteria. As these two families of viruses are not relatively documented and their diversity poorly classified, this study aimed to analyze the presence of genomoviruses and the diversity of microviruses in nine samples representative of wastewater in Arizona and other regions of the United States. Using a metagenomic approach, the nucleic acids of genomoviruses and microviruses were isolated, assembled into complete genomes, and characterized through visual analysis: a heat chart showing percent coverage for genomoviruses and a circular phylogenetic tree showing diversity of microviruses. The heat map results for the genomoviruses showed a large presence of 99 novel sequences in all nine wastewater samples. Additionally, the 535 novel microviruses displayed great diversity in the cladogram, both in terms of sub-family and isolation source. Further research should be conducted in order to classify the taxonomy of microviruses and the diversity of genomoviruses. Finally, this study suggests future exploration of the viral host, prior to entering the wastewater system.

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2020-05

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Heat Shock-Inducible Model to Study Tumor Environment In Drosophila

Description

The goal of this project was to design and create a genetic construct that would allow for <br/>tumor growth to be induced in the center of the wing imaginal disc of Drosophila larvae, the <br/>R85E08 domain, using a heat shock.

The goal of this project was to design and create a genetic construct that would allow for <br/>tumor growth to be induced in the center of the wing imaginal disc of Drosophila larvae, the <br/>R85E08 domain, using a heat shock. The resulting transgene would be combined with other <br/>transgenes in a single fly that would allow for simultaneous expression of the oncogene and, in <br/>the surrounding cells, other genes of interest. This system would help establish Drosophila as a <br/>more versatile and reliable model organism for cancer research. Furthermore, pilot studies were <br/>performed, using elements of the final proposed system, to determine if tumor growth is possible <br/>in the center of the disc, which oncogene produces the best results, and if oncogene expression <br/>induced later in development causes tumor growth. Three different candidate genes were <br/>investigated: RasV12, PvrACT, and Avli.

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2021-05

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Identification and Dynamics of DNA Viruses in Aves

Description

Viruses infect organisms in all domains of life and are abundant entities in ecosystems. In particular, single-stranded DNA viruses have been found in a wide variety of hosts and ecosystems. Using a metagenomic approach, novel circular viruses have been identified

Viruses infect organisms in all domains of life and are abundant entities in ecosystems. In particular, single-stranded DNA viruses have been found in a wide variety of hosts and ecosystems. Using a metagenomic approach, novel circular viruses have been identified in multiple environmental samples. This thesis focuses on viruses and virus dynamics from avian sources. As part of this thesis, a novel phapecoctavirus was identified in a pigeon cloacal swab. The phapecoctavirus is most closely related to Klebsiella phage ZCKP1, identified from a freshwater sample. Beyond this, this thesis addresses circoviruses, which are of interest due to disease they cause to avian species. Evolution of circovirus recombination was studied in a closed system of uninfected and infected pigeons. 178 genomes of pigeon circovirus were sequenced, and patterns of recombination determined. Seven genotypes were present in the population and genotype 4 was shown to be present in a majority of samples after the experiment was finished. Circoviruses were also identified in waterfowl feces and the ten genomes recovered represent two new circovirus species. Overall, the research described in this thesis helped to gain a deeper understanding of the diversity and evolution of circular DNA viruses associated with avian species.

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Date Created
2021

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Characterization of Geminiviruses Infecting Cactaceae Plants: Spill-Over Events in Agro-Ecological Interfaces and Evolutionary Aspects

Description

The family Cactaceae is extremely diverse and has a near global distribution yet very little has been described regarding the community of viruses that infect or are associated with cacti. This research characterizes the diversity of viruses associated with Cactaceae

The family Cactaceae is extremely diverse and has a near global distribution yet very little has been described regarding the community of viruses that infect or are associated with cacti. This research characterizes the diversity of viruses associated with Cactaceae plants and their evolutionary aspects. Five viruses belonging to the economically relevant plant virus family Geminiviridae were identified, initially, two novel divergent geminiviruses named Opuntia virus 1 (OpV1) and Opuntia virus 2 (OpV2) and Opuntia becurtovirus, a new strain within the genus Becurtovirus. These three viruses were also found in co-infection. In addition, two known geminiviruses, the squash leaf curl virus (SLCV) and watermelon chlorotic stunt virus (WCSV) were identified infecting Cactaceae plants and other non-cactus plants in the USA and Mexico. Both SLCV and WCSV are known to cause severe disease in cultivated Cucurbitaceae plants in the USA and Middle East, respectively. This study shows that WCSV was introduced in the America two times, and it is the first identification of this virus in the USA, demonstrating is likely more widespread in North America. These findings along with the Opuntia becurtovirus are probable events of spill-over in agro-ecological interfaces. A novel circular DNA possibly bipartite plant-infecting virus that encodes protein similar to those of geminiviruses was also identified in an Opuntia discolor plant in Brazil, named utkilio virus, but it is evolutionary distinct likely belonging to a new taxon. Viruses belonging to the ssDNA viral family Genomoviridae are also described and those thus far been associated with fungi hosts, so it is likely the ones identified in plants are associated with their phytobiome. Overall, the results of this project provide a molecular and biological characterization of novel geminiviruses and genomoviruses associated with cacti as well as demonstrate the impact of agro-ecological interfaces in the spread of viruses from or to native plants. It also highlights the importance of viral metagenomics studies in exploring virus diversity and evolution given then amount of virus diversity identified. This is important for conservation and management of cacti in a global scale, including the relevance of controlled movement of plants within countries.

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Date Created
2021

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Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Amplicon Vectors

Description

Globally, about two-thirds of the population is latently infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). HSV-1 is a large double stranded DNA virus with a genome size of ~150kbp. Small defective genomes, which minimally contain an HSV-1 origin of

Globally, about two-thirds of the population is latently infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). HSV-1 is a large double stranded DNA virus with a genome size of ~150kbp. Small defective genomes, which minimally contain an HSV-1 origin of replication and packaging signal, arise naturally via recombination during viral DNA replication. These small defective genomes can be mimicked by constructing a bacterial plasmid containing the HSV-1 origin of replication and packaging signal, transfecting these recombinant plasmids into mammalian cells, and infecting with a replicating helper virus. The absence of most viral genes in the amplicon vector allows large pieces of foreign DNA (up to 150kbp) to be incorporated. The HSV-1 amplicon is replicated and packaged by the helper virus to form HSV-1 particles containing the amplicon DNA. We constructed a novel HSV-1 amplicon vector system containing lambda phage-derived attR sites to facilitate insertion of transgenes by Invitrogen Gateway recombination. To demonstrate that the amplicon vectors work as expected, we packaged the vector constructs expressing Emerald GFP using the replication-competent helper viruses OK-14 or HSV-mScartlet-I-UL25 in Vero cells and demonstrate that the vector stock can subsequently transduce and express Emerald GFP. In further work, we will insert transgenes into the amplicon vector using Invitrogen Gateway recombination to study their functionality.

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Date Created
2021