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Full-Text Articles in Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology

Mass Spectrometry-Based Investigation Of App-Dependent Mechanisms In Neurodegeneration, Dale Chaput Nov 2015

Mass Spectrometry-Based Investigation Of App-Dependent Mechanisms In Neurodegeneration, Dale Chaput

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of dementia affecting the elderly, and as the aging population increases the social and economic burden of AD grows substantially. Pathological hallmarks of AD include the accumulation of extracellular amyloid plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), as well as significant neuron loss. Amyloid plaques consist of aggregated amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide, which is generated from the proteolytic processing of amyloid precursor protein (APP) in addition to several other peptides. While the processing of APP has been characterized, its primary physiological function and its involvement in AD pathology are poorly understood. Developing ...


Characterization Of Two Novel Gene Regulatory Systems In The Zoonotic Bacterium Bartonella Henselae, Nhan Tu Nov 2015

Characterization Of Two Novel Gene Regulatory Systems In The Zoonotic Bacterium Bartonella Henselae, Nhan Tu

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

The genus Bartonella contains Gram-negative arthropod-borne bacteria that are found in many small animal reservoirs and are capable of causing human disease. Bacteria utilize a general stress response system to combat stresses from their surrounding environments. In α-proteobacteria, the general stress response system uses an alternate σ factor as the main regulator and incorporates it with a two-component system into a unique system. Our study identifies the general stress response system in the α-proteobacterium, Bartonella henselae, where the gene synteny is conserved and both the PhyR and alternate σ factor have similar sequence and domain structures with other α-proteobacteria. Furthermore ...


Targeting Autopalmitoylation To Modulate Protein S-Palmitoylation, Laura Dawn Hamel Nov 2015

Targeting Autopalmitoylation To Modulate Protein S-Palmitoylation, Laura Dawn Hamel

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Palmitoylation refers to the covalent attachment of fatty acids, such as palmitate, onto the cysteine residues of proteins. This process may subsequently alter their localization and function. Nearly all of the enzymes that catalyze palmitoylation, zDHHC protein acyl transferases (PATs), are implicated in neurological disorders, infectious diseases, and cancer in humans. Of particular interest to those who study palmitoylation are Ras family GTPas and zDHHC9-GCP16, the zDHHC PAT that palmitoylates Ras proteins. Erf2-Erf4 is the zDHHC PAT that palmitoylates Ras proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Currently, there are no methods to therapeutically target palmitoylation for the treatment of disease. One of ...


Molecular And Phenotypic Studies Validating The Role Of The Ecdysone Receptor In The Human Parasite Brugia Malayi, Amruta Mhashilkar Nov 2015

Molecular And Phenotypic Studies Validating The Role Of The Ecdysone Receptor In The Human Parasite Brugia Malayi, Amruta Mhashilkar

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Filariasis and onchocerciasis are debilitating diseases affecting 120 million people globally. The massive socio-economic impact of these diseases energized the international community to declare a goal of eliminating filariasis 2020. This resulted in a dramatic increase in the efforts to eliminate filariasis and onchocerciasis, employing a strategy of mass drug administration (MDA). However, these programs rely upon the small arsenal of drugs. This leaves these programs vulnerable to failure in the face of developing resistance and local intolerance to the current drug regimens. Thus, new drugs against these infections are critically needed. A homologue of the ecdysone receptor (EcR), a ...


Hepatic Nutrient And Hormonal Regulation Of The Pancreatic-Derived Factor (Pander) Promoter, Whitney Ratliff Nov 2015

Hepatic Nutrient And Hormonal Regulation Of The Pancreatic-Derived Factor (Pander) Promoter, Whitney Ratliff

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

PANcreatic-DERived factor (PANDER, FAM3B) has been shown to regulate glycemic levels via interactions with both pancreatic islets and the liver. Although PANDER is predominantly expressed from the endocrine pancreas, recent work has provided sufficient evidence that the liver may also be an additional tissue source of PANDER production. At physiological levels, PANDER is capable of disrupting insulin signaling and promoting increased hepatic glucose production. As shown in some animal models, strong expression of PANDER, induced by viral delivery within the liver, induces hepatic steatosis. However, no studies to date have explicitly characterized the transcriptional regulation of PANDER from the liver ...


Novel Enzyme Perspectives: Arylalkylamine N-Acyltransferases From Bombyx Mori & 1-Deoxy- D-Xylulose-5-Phosphate Synthase From Plasmodium Falciparum And Plasmodium Vivax, Matthew R. Battistini Nov 2015

Novel Enzyme Perspectives: Arylalkylamine N-Acyltransferases From Bombyx Mori & 1-Deoxy- D-Xylulose-5-Phosphate Synthase From Plasmodium Falciparum And Plasmodium Vivax, Matthew R. Battistini

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

This dissertation is dedicated to the research and investigation of novel enzymes and the methods used to study them, with physiological roles ranging from isoprenoid biosynthesis to neurotransmitter production. Using a combination of bioinformatics, recombinant cloning, enzymology, and proteomics, we have contributed to the understanding and exploration of several human illnesses, including malaria, cancer, and endocrine dysfunction.

Our first project involved studying the enzymes responsible for N-acylarylalkylamide biosynthesis in Bombyx mori. Very little is known how these potent signaling molecules are produced in vivo, however, one possible pathway is the direct conjugation of an acyl-CoA to a corresponding arylalkylamide ...


Structure Based Drug Design Targeting Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance And Alzheimer's Disease, Eric Michael Lewandowski Oct 2015

Structure Based Drug Design Targeting Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance And Alzheimer's Disease, Eric Michael Lewandowski

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Structure based drug design is a rapidly advancing discipline that examines how protein targets structurally interact with small molecules, or known inhibitors, and then uses this information to lead inhibitor optimization efforts. In the case of novel inhibitors, protein structural information is first obtained via X-ray crystallography, NMR studies, or a combination of both approaches. Then, computational molecular docking is often used to screen, in silico, millions of small molecules and calculate the potential interactions they may have with the target protein’s binding pocket, in hopes of identifying novel low affinity inhibitors. By examining the interactions these small, low ...


Characterization And Diurnal Measurement Of Oral Inflammation In Association With Glycemic Control, Periodontal Status, & Glucose Stimulation, Melanie N. Kuehl Oct 2015

Characterization And Diurnal Measurement Of Oral Inflammation In Association With Glycemic Control, Periodontal Status, & Glucose Stimulation, Melanie N. Kuehl

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Diabetes has afflicted 8.3%, approximately 25.8 million, of the United States population and is the seventh leading cause of death [1]. Type I diabetes (T1D) accounts for 5 to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in the United States [2]. If present trends continue, the rate of T1D incidence among children under the age of 14 will increase by 3% globally [3]. T1D is an autoimmune disorder in which the β-cells of the pancreatic islets are destroyed, leading to high blood sugar. Hyperglycemia and loss of immunological tolerance to self-antigens are common associations of T1D [4]. Periodontal ...


A Forward Genetic Screen Identifies Factors Associated With Fever Pathogenesis In Plasmodium Falciparum, Phaedra J. Thomas Sep 2015

A Forward Genetic Screen Identifies Factors Associated With Fever Pathogenesis In Plasmodium Falciparum, Phaedra J. Thomas

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Infectious diseases that spread from person-to-person and continent-to-continent are a cause for concern for any health entity. One such disease is malaria, a mosquito-borne infection instigated by the protozoan parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Hundreds of millions of people are affected annually and it is responsible for nearly 1 million deaths. It is the most fatal species causing malaria and proliferates in human red blood cells with a life cycle occurring every 48 hours. At this time, the parasite’s late stage form or schizont bursts from the erythrocyte releasing immune-inducing particles and infective forms (merozoites) into the bloodstream. The merozoites go ...


Function Of Long Noncoding Rnas In Breast Cancer, Edward J. Richards Sep 2015

Function Of Long Noncoding Rnas In Breast Cancer, Edward J. Richards

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Breast cancer is a disease that will be diagnosed in about 1 in 10 women throughout their lifetime. The majority of breast cancers are originated from the epithelial cells of the mammary ducts, and this occurrence can be due to several factors including hereditary and acquired mutation. There are several major breast cancer subtypes, including estrogen receptor-α (ERα)-positive, HER2-enriched and triple-negative (TNBC). Patients diagnosed with ER+ tumors are generally treated with estrogen blockers (e.g., tamoxifen, letrozole and fulvestrant). Patients with HER2+ tumors are commonly administered with drugs that block HER2 signaling (e.g., trastuzumab) or inhibit HER2’s ...


Promoting Genome Stability Via Multiple Dna Repair Pathways, Scott Cukras Feb 2015

Promoting Genome Stability Via Multiple Dna Repair Pathways, Scott Cukras

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Maintaining genome integrity is indispensible for cells to prevent and limit accruement of deleterious mutations and to promote viable cell growth and proliferation. Cells possess a myriad of mechanisms to detect, prevent and repair incurred cellular damage. Here we discuss various proteins and their accompanying cellular pathways that promote genome stability. We first investigate the NEDD8 protein and its role in promoting homologous recombination repair via multiple Cullin E3 ubiquitin ligases. We provide specific mechanisms through which, UBE2M, an E2 conjugating enzyme, neddylates various Cullin ligases to render them catalytically active to degrade their substrates by the proteasome. We show ...


A Functional Chlorophyll Biosynthesis Pathway Identified In The Kleptoplastic Sea Slug, Elysia Chlorotica, Julie A. Schwartz Feb 2015

A Functional Chlorophyll Biosynthesis Pathway Identified In The Kleptoplastic Sea Slug, Elysia Chlorotica, Julie A. Schwartz

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

The sacoglossan sea slug, Elysia chlorotica, feeds upon and sequesters plastids from the heterokont alga, Vaucheria litorea, and maintains the metabolically active organelles for up to nine months under starvation conditions while utilizing the photosynthate to survive and reproduce. The photosynthetic pigment, chlorophyll a (Chla), is found in all oxygenic photosynthetic organisms and is responsible for capturing photons of light and converting them into chemical energy. Chlorophyll and its associated proteins involved in the light capturing process are subject to photo oxidative damage and must be continually replaced for ongoing photosynthesis to continue; however, genes encoding these proteins are present ...


Exploring The Role Of Intracellular Aminopeptidases In Staphylococcus Aureus Pathogenesis, Devon Nicole Marking Jan 2015

Exploring The Role Of Intracellular Aminopeptidases In Staphylococcus Aureus Pathogenesis, Devon Nicole Marking

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Staphylococcus aureus is a remarkably pathogenic bacterium that is widely prevalent among the human population. It is the leading agent of skin and soft tissue infections, and is also responsible for causing an array of severe and life threatening diseases. The invasiveness of the pathogen, coupled with increasing antibiotic resistance seen for S. aureus infections, makes this bacterium a prominent public health concern. The extended pathogenicity of S. aureus is largely due to its repertoire of virulence factors, which are typically characterized by being bound to the cell wall, or secreted into the extracellular environment. Previously, our lab identified a ...


Regulation And Targeting Of The Fancd2 Activation In Dna Repair, Valentina Celeste Caceres Jan 2015

Regulation And Targeting Of The Fancd2 Activation In Dna Repair, Valentina Celeste Caceres

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genome instability syndrome that is clinically manifested by bone marrow failure, congenital defects, and elevated cancer susceptibility. The FA pathway is known to regulate the repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks in part through DNA homologous recombination (HR) repair. Up to today 16 FA proteins have been discovered that may participate in the common pathway. Cells that have mutations in the FA genes are hypersensitive to DNA damaging agents and display chromosome instability. A key regulatory event in the FA pathway is monoubiquitination of FANCD2-FANCI heterodimer that is mediated by a multi-component E3 ubiquitin ligase complex ...


High-Throughput Screening Of Age-Related Changes In Caenorhabditis Elegans, Neil Copes Jan 2015

High-Throughput Screening Of Age-Related Changes In Caenorhabditis Elegans, Neil Copes

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

This project was developed to identify novel methods for high-throughput culturing and screening of C. elegans to investigate age-related metabolic changes and to survey the proteomic and metabolomic factors associated with age-related changes. To accomplish these goals we developed a novel way to grow C. elegans in liquid culture in 96-well microplates for several weeks without suffering significant fluid loss due to evaporation and without needing to shake or unseal the plates for aeration. We also developed methods for assaying the total volume of live C. elegans in microplate cultures using a fluorescence microplate reader and for performing RNAi experiments ...


Strategies For Preventing Age And Neurodegenerative Disease-Associated Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Vedad Delic Jan 2015

Strategies For Preventing Age And Neurodegenerative Disease-Associated Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Vedad Delic

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Mitochondrial dysfunction plays a pivotal role in the development of aging phenotypes and aging-associated neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Strategies that restore mitochondrial dysfunction may rescue the deficits of central metabolism in these disorders and improve cell survival. For example, we found that modulating the mTOR signaling pathway in a tissue culture model of aging-induced mitochondrial DNA mutation enhanced mitochondrial function as evidenced by increased oxygen consumption. Our previous melatonin studies also led us to hypothesize that caloric restriction and the hormone melatonin would reverse brain mitochondrial dysfunction ...


Genomic Aberrations At The 3q And 14q Loci: Investigation Of Key Players In Ovarian And Renal Cancer Biology, Punashi Dutta Jan 2015

Genomic Aberrations At The 3q And 14q Loci: Investigation Of Key Players In Ovarian And Renal Cancer Biology, Punashi Dutta

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Genomic aberrations are primary contributors to the pathophysiology of cancer [11]. Dysregulated expression of genes located within these aberrations are important predictors of chemoresistance, disease prognosis, and patient outcome [12]. This dissertation is focused on understanding the regulation and/or functions of specific genes located at dysregulated genomic regions such as 3q26 and 14q32 in the biology of ovarian and renal cancer, respectively.

Serous epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) manifest amplification at the 3q26.2 locus [2], an observation consistent with the cancer genome atlas (TCGA) [13]. The most amplified gene in this region is EVI1 which has been extensively studied ...


The Effects Of Supplemented Metabolites On Lifespan And Stress Response Pathways In Caenorhabditis Elegans, Clare B. Edwards Jan 2015

The Effects Of Supplemented Metabolites On Lifespan And Stress Response Pathways In Caenorhabditis Elegans, Clare B. Edwards

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Understanding how metabolites contribute to anaplerosis, antioxidant effects, and hormetic pathways during aging is fundamental to creating supplements and dietary habits that may decrease age-associated disease and decline, thus improving the quality of life in old age. In order to uncover metabolic pathways that delay aging, the effects of large sets of metabolites associated with mitochondrial function on lifespan were investigated.

Malate, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle metabolite, increased lifespan and thermotolerance in C. elegans. Addition of fumarate and succinate also extended lifespan and all three metabolites activated nuclear translocation of the cytoprotective DAF-16/FOXO transcription factor and protected from ...


Functional Analysis Of The Ovarian Cancer Susceptibility Locus At 9p22.2 Reveals A Transcription Regulatory Network Mediated By Bnc2 In Ovarian Cells, Melissa Buckley Jan 2015

Functional Analysis Of The Ovarian Cancer Susceptibility Locus At 9p22.2 Reveals A Transcription Regulatory Network Mediated By Bnc2 In Ovarian Cells, Melissa Buckley

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

GWAS have identified several chromosomal loci associated with ovarian cancer risk. However, the mechanism underlying these associations remains elusive. We identify candidate functional Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) at the 9p22.2 ovarian cancer susceptibility locus, several of which map to transcriptional regulatory elements active in ovarian cells identified by FAIRE-seq (Formaldehyde assisted isolation of regulatory elements followed by sequencing) and ChIP-seq (Chromatin Immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing) in relevant cell types. Reporter and electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) determined the extent to which candidate SNPs had allele specific effects. Chromosome conformation capture (3C) reveals a physical association between Basonuclin 2 (BNC2 ...


Immunological Characterization Of Duffy Binding Protein Of Plasmodium Vivax, Miriam Thankam George Jan 2015

Immunological Characterization Of Duffy Binding Protein Of Plasmodium Vivax, Miriam Thankam George

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Plasmodium vivax Duffy binding protein (DBP) is an essential ligand for reticulocyte invasion making it a premier asexual blood stage vaccine candidate. However, strain-specific immunity due to DBPII allelic variation may complicate vaccine efficacy, suggesting that an effective DBPII vaccine needs to target immune responses to conserved epitopes that are potential targets of strain-transcending neutralizing immunity. Anti DBPII monoclonal antibodies, which were previously characterized by COS7 cell binding assay as inhibitory and non-inhibitory to DBPII-erythrocyte binding, were mapped to DBPII gene fragment libraries using phage display. Inhibitory mAb 3C9 binds to a conserved conformation-dependent epitope in subdomain 3 while non-inhibitory ...


Minocycline Treatment And The Necessity To Develop A Novel Outcome Measure For Children With Angelman Syndrome, Joseph Christopher Grieco Jan 2015

Minocycline Treatment And The Necessity To Develop A Novel Outcome Measure For Children With Angelman Syndrome, Joseph Christopher Grieco

Graduate Theses and Dissertations

Angelman syndrome (AS) is a rare genetic disorder affecting 1/10,000 to 1/20,000 births. This disorder arises through the genetic disruption of the maternal UBE3A allele, which when coupled with epigenetic silencing of the paternal allele UBE3A allele, gives rise to an absence of UBE3A protein in the central nervous system. Clinical manifestations of the syndrome vary in severity and include poor motor function, deficits in language and severe intellectual impairments. Previous research in the Angelman syndrome mouse model revealed abnormalities in dendritic spine density and morphology of hippocampal pyramidal cells. As seen in humans with AS ...