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  Partner: UNT Libraries
 Degree Discipline: Biochemistry
 Degree Level: Doctoral
N-Acylethanolamine metabolism during seed germination: Molecular identification of a functional N-acylethanolamine amidohydrolase.
N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are endogenous lipid metabolites that occur in a variety of dry seeds, and their levels decline rapidly during the first few hours of imbibition (Chapman et al., 1999, Plant Physiol., 120:1157-1164). Biochemical studies supported the existence of an NAE amidohydrolase activity in seeds and seedlings, and efforts were directed toward identification of DNA sequences encoding this enzyme. Mammalian tissues metabolize NAEs via an amidase enzyme designated fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Based on the characteristic amidase signature sequence in mammalian FAAH, a candidate Arabidopsis cDNA was identified and isolated by reverse transcriptase-PCR. The Arabidopsis cDNA was expressed in E. coli and the recombinant protein indeed hydrolyzed a range of NAEs to free fatty acids and ethanolamine. Kinetic parameters for the recombinant protein were consistent with those properties of the rat FAAH, supporting identification of this Arabidopsis cDNA as a FAAH homologue. Two T-DNA insertional mutant lines with disruptions in the Arabidopsis NAE amidohydrolase gene (At5g64440) were identified. The homozygous mutant seedlings were more sensitive than the wild type to exogenously applied NAE 12:0. Transgenic seedlings overexpressing the NAE amidohydrolase enzyme showed noticeably greater tolerance to NAE 12:0 than wild type seedlings. These results together provide evidence in vitro and in vivo for the molecular identification of Arabidopsis NAE amidohydrolase. Moreover, the plants with altered NAE amidohydrolase expression may provide new tools for improved understanding of the role of NAEs in germination and seedling growth. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4575/
Conformational Studies of Myosin and Actin with Calibrated Resonance Energy Transfer
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Resonance energy transfer was employed to study the conformational changes of actomyosin during ATP hydrolysis. To calibrate the technique, the parameters for resonance energy transfer were defined. With conformational searching algorithms to predict probe orientation, the distances measured by resonance energy transfer are highly consistent with the atomic models, which verified the accuracy and feasibility of resonance energy transfer for structural studies of proteins and oligonucleotides. To study intramyosin distances, resonance energy transfer probes were attached to skeletal myosin's nucleotide site, subfragment-2, and regulatory light chain to examine nucleotide analog-induced structural transitions. The distances between the three positions were measured in the presence of different nucleotide analogs. No distance change was considered to be statistically significant. The measured distance between the regulatory light chain and nucleotide site was consistent with either the atomic model of skeletal myosin subfragment-1 or an average of the three models claimed for different ATP hydrolysis states, which suggested that the neck region was flexible in solution. To examine the participation of actin in the powerstroke process, resonance energy transfer between different sites on actin and myosin was measured in the presence of nucleotide analogs. The efficiencies of energy transfer between myosin catalytic domain and actin were consistent with the actoS1 docking model. However, the neck region was much closer to the actin filament than predicted by static atomic models. The efficiency of energy transfer between Cys 374 and the regulatory light chain was much greater in the presence of ADP-AlF4, ADP-BeFx, and ADP-vanadate than in the presence of ADP or no nucleotide. These data detect profound differences in the conformations of the weakly and strongly attached crossbridges which appear to result from a conformational selection that occurs during the weak binding of the myosin head to actin. The resonance energy transfer data exclude a number of versions of the swinging lever arm model, and indicate that actin participation is indispensable for conformational changes leading to force generation. The conformational selection during weak binding at the actomyosin interface may precock the myosin head for the ensuing powerstroke. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc2438/
Fluorescence labeling and computational analysis of the strut of myosin's 50 kDa cleft.
In order to understand the structural changes in myosin S1, fluorescence polarization and computational dynamics simulations were used. Dynamics simulations on the S1 motor domain indicated that significant flexibility was present throughout the molecular model. The constrained opening versus closing of the 50 kDa cleft appeared to induce opposite directions of movement in the lever arm. A sequence called the "strut" which traverses the 50 kDa cleft and may play an important role in positioning the actomyosin binding interface during actin binding is thought to be intimately linked to distant structural changes in the myosin's nucleotide cleft and neck regions. To study the dynamics of the strut region, a method of fluorescent labeling of the strut was discovered using the dye CY3. CY3 served as a hydrophobic tag for purification by hydrophobic interaction chromatography which enabled the separation of labeled and unlabeled species of S1 including a fraction labeled specifically at the strut sequence. The high specificity of labeling was verified by proteolytic digestions, gel electrophoresis, and mass spectroscopy. Analysis of the labeled S1 by collisional quenching, fluorescence polarization, and actin-activated ATPase activity were consistent with predictions from structural models of the probe's location. Although the fluorescent intensity of the CY3 was insensitive to actin binding, its fluorescence polarization was notably affected. Intriguingly, the mobility of the probe increases upon S1 binding to actin suggesting that the CY3 becomes displaced from interactions with the surface of S1 and is consistent with a structural change in the strut due to cleft motions. Labeling the strut reduced the affinity of S1 for actin but did not prevent actin-activated ATPase activity which makes it a potentially useful probe of the actomyosin interface. The different conformations of myosin S1 indicated that the strut is not as flexible as several other key regions of myosin as determined by the application of force constraints to elastic portions of the myosin structure. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3974/
Function of the ENOD8 gene in nodules of Medicago truncatula.
To elaborate on the function(s) of the ENOD8 gene in the nodules of M. truncatula, several different experimental approaches were used. A census of the ENOD8 genes was first completed indicating that only ENOD8.1 (nt10554-12564 of GenBank AF463407) is highly expressed in nodule tissues. A maltose binding protein-ENOD8 fusion protein was made with an E. coli recombinant system. A variety of biochemical assays were undertaken with the MBP-ENOD8 recombinant protein expressed in E. coli, which did not yield the esterase activity observed for ENOD8 protein nodule fractions purified from M. sativa, tested on general esterase substrates, α-naphthyl acetate, and p-nitrophenylacetate. Attempts were also made to express ENOD8 in a Pichia pastoris system; no ENOD8 protein could be detected from Pichia pastoris strains which were transformed with the ENOD8 expression cassette. Additionally, it was shown that the ENOD8 protein can be recombinantly synthesized by Nicotiana benthamiana in a soluble form, which could be tested for activity toward esterase substrates, bearing resemblance to nodule compounds, such as the Nod factor. Transcription localization studies using an ENOD8 promoter gusA fusion indicated that ENOD8 is expressed in the bacteroid-invaded zone of the nodule. The ENOD8 protein was also detected in that same zone by immunolocalization. Confocal immunomicroscopy with an affinity-purified anti-ENOD8 oligopeptide antibody showed that the ENOD8 protein localizes at the interface between the plant and the bacteroid-differentiated rhizobia, in the symbiosome membrane or symbiosome space. This suggests a possible link between ENOD8 protein and bacteroid differentiation, nitrogen fixation, or plant defense. These possible functions for ENOD8 could be tested with an ENOD8-RNAi transgenic line devoid of detectable ENOD8 proteins. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5471/
Functional Characterization of Plant Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolases
Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) terminates the endocannabinoid signaling pathway that regulates numerous neurobehavioral processes in animals by hydrolyzing a class of lipid mediators, N-acylethanolamines (NAEs). Recent identification of an Arabidopsis FAAH homologue (AtFAAH) and several studies, especially those using AtFAAH overexpressing and knock-out lines suggest that a FAAH-mediated pathway exists in plants for the metabolism of endogenous NAEs. Here, I provide evidence to support this concept by identifying candidate FAAH cDNA sequences in diverse plant species. NAE amidohydrolase assays confirmed that several of the proteins encoded by these cDNAs indeed catalyzed the hydrolysis of NAEs in vitro. Kinetic parameters, inhibition properties, and substrate specificities of the plant FAAH enzymes were very similar to those of mammalian FAAH. Five amino acid residues determined to be important for catalysis by rat FAAH were absolutely conserved within the plant FAAH sequences. Site-directed mutation of each of the five putative catalytic residues in AtFAAH abolished its hydrolytic activity when expressed in Escherichia coli. Contrary to overexpression of native AtFAAH in Arabidopsis that results in enhanced seedling growth, and in seedlings that were insensitive to exogenous NAE, overexpression of the inactive AtFAAH mutants showed no growth enhancement and no NAE tolerance. However, both active and inactive AtFAAH overexpressors displayed hypersensitivity to ABA, suggesting a function of the enzyme independent of its catalytic activity toward NAE substrates. Yeast two-hybrid screening identified Arg/Ser-rich zinc knuckle-containing protein as a candidate protein that physically and domain-specifically interacts with AtFAAH and its T-DNA knock-out Arabidopsis was hypersensitive to ABA to a degree similar to AtFAAH overexpressors. Taken together, AtFAAH appears to have a bifurcating function, via NAE hydrolysis and protein-protein interaction, to control Arabidopsis growth and interaction with phytohormone signaling pathways. These studies help to functionally define the group of enzymes that metabolize NAEs in plants, and further will expand the knowledge-base of lipid metabolism and signaling for manipulation of various physiological processes important to plant growth and responses to environmental stress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc33177/
Identification of Three Symbiosome Targeting Domains in the MtENOD8 Protein and Cell-to-cell MtENOD8 mRNA Movement in Nodules
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The model legume, Medicago truncatula, is able to enter into a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, known as rhizobia. This relationship involves a carbon for nitrogen exchange in which the plant provides reduced carbon from photosynthesis in exchange for reduced, or “fixed” atmospheric nitrogen, which allows the plant to thrive in nitrogen depleted soils. Rhizobia infect and enter plant root organs, known as nodules, where they reside inside the plant cell in a novel organelle, known as the symbiosome where nitrogen fixation occurs. the symbiosome is enriched in plant proteins, however, little is known about the mechanisms that direct plant proteins to the symbiosome. Using the M. truncatula ENOD8 (MtENOD8) protein as a model to explore symbiosome protein targeting, 3-cis domains were identified within MtENOD8 capable of directing green fluorescent protein (GFP) to the symbiosome, including its N-terminal signal peptide (SP). the SP delivered GFP to the vacuole in the absence of nodules suggesting that symbiosome proteins share a common targeting pathway with vacuolar proteins. a time course analysis during nodulation indicated that there is a nodule specific redirection of MtENOD8-SP from the vacuole to the symbiosome in a MtNIP/LATD dependent manner. GFP expression by the MtENOD8 promoter revealed spatial discrepancy between promoter activity and protein localization. in situ localization of MtENOD8 mRNA showed localization to infected cells, where the protein is found, suggesting mRNA cell-to-cell movement. Expression of MtENOD8 in Arabidopsis showed that the SP did not direct GFP to the vacuole indicating that vacuolar targeting of MtENOD8’s SP may be legume specific. Taken together, the research presented here indicates that the MtENOD8 symbiosome protein has evolved redundant domains for targeting, which has part of a common pathway with vacuolar proteins. Observed spatial discrepancy between the MtENOD8 promoter and protein shows additional mechanisms of gene regulation through cell-to-cell mRNA movement, previously unknown in nodules. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115118/
Luminescence Resonance Energy Transfer-Based Modeling of Troponin in the Presence of Myosin and Troponin/Tropomyosin Defining Myosin Binding Target Zones in the Reconstituted Thin Filament
Mechanistic details on the regulation of striated muscle contraction still need to be determined, particularly the specific structural locations of the elements comprising the thick and thin filaments. Of special interest is the location of the regulatory component, troponin, on the actin filament and how its presence influences the behavior of myosin binding to the thin filament. In the present study: (1) Luminescence resonance energy transfer was used to monitor potential conformational changes in the reconstituted thin filament between the C-terminal region of troponin T and myosin subfragment 1; (2) Location of troponin in previously derived atomic models of the acto-myosin complex was mapped to visualize specific contacts; and (3) Shortened tropomyosin was engineered and protein binding and ATPase assays were performed to study the effect of myosin binding close to the troponin complex. Analysis of the results suggest the following: (1) Irrespective of calcium levels, the C-terminal region of troponin T is located close to myosin loop 3 and a few actin helices that may perturb strong acto-myosin interactions responsible for force production. (2) Atomic models indicate myosin subfragment 1 cannot attain the post- powerstroke state due to the full motion of the lever arm being sterically hindered by troponin. (3) A shortened tropomyosin with five actin binding modules (instead of the native seven in muscle cells) binds actin contiguously in a head-to-tail manner and serves to increase the periodicity of troponin complexes on the actin filament. Such behavior eliminates the structure of the actin filament being responsible for the binding location of tropomyosin. (4) Differential behavior of myosin subfragment 1 i.e. (a) binding adjacent to troponin and (b) binding further away from troponin, is apparent as tropomyosin and troponin appear to govern the regions or "target zones" where myosin can bind productively along the actin filament. Physiologically, myosins able to bind close to troponin, but not participate in force production may function as mechanical sensors to attenuate or dampen the force generated from the so-called "target zones". Therefore, this could be a pseudo-regulatory mechanism that functions to protect the contractile apparatus from damage. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9834/
Manipulating Sucrose Proton Symporters to Understand Phloem Loading
Phloem vascular tissues transport sugars synthesized by photosynthesis in mature leaves by a process called phloem loading in source tissues and unloading in sink tissues. Phloem loading in source leaves is catalyzed by Suc/H+ symporters (SUTs) which are energized by proton motive force. In Arabidopsis the principal and perhaps exclusive SUT catalyzing phloem loading is AtSUC2. In mutant plants harboring a T-DNA insertion in each of the functional SUT-family members, only Atsuc2 mutants demonstrate overtly debilitated phloem transport. Analysis of a mutant allele (Atsuc2-4) of AtSUC2 with a T-DNA insertion in the second intron showed severely stunted phenotype similar to previously analyzed Atsuc2 null alleles. However unlike previous alleles Atsuc2-4 produced viable seeds. Analysis of phloem specific promoters showed that promoter expression was regulated by Suc concentration. Unlike AtSUC2p, heterologous promoter CoYMVp was not repressed under high Suc conc. Further analysis was conducted using CoYMVp to test the capacity of diverse clades in SUT-gene family for transferring Suc in planta in Atsuc2 - / - mutant background. AtSUC1 and ZmSUT1 from maize complemented Atsuc2 mutant plants to the highest level compared to all other transporters. Over-expression of the above SUTs in phloem showed enhanced Suc loading and transport, but against expectations, plants were stunted. The implications of SUT over-expression to enhance phloem transport and loading are discussed and how it induces a perception of phosphate imbalance is presented. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc283792/
Nucleotide Inhibition of Glyoxalase II
The glyoxalase system mediates the conversion of methylglyoxal, a toxic ketoaldehyde, to D-lactic acid. The system is composed of two enzymes, glyoxalase I (Glo-I) and glyoxalase II (Glo-II), and exhibits an absolute requirement for a catalytic quantity of glutathione (GSH). Glo-I catalyzes the isomerization of a hemithioacetal, formed non-enzymatically from methylglyoxal and GSH, to the corresponding a -D-hydroxyacid thioester, s-D-lactoylglutathione (SLG). Glo-II catalyzes the irreversible breakdown of SLG to D-lactate and GSH. We have observed that ATP or GTP significantly inhibits the Glo-II activity of tissue homogenates from various sources. We have developed a rapid, one step chromatography procedure to purify Glo-II such that the purified enzyme remains "sensitive" to inhibition by ATP or GTP (Glo-II-s). Studies indicate that inhibition of Glo-II-s by nucleotides is restricted to ATP, GTP, ADP, and GDP, with ATP appearing most effective. Kinetics studies have shown that ATP acts as a partial non-competitive inhibitor of Glo-II-s activity, and further suggest that two kinetically distinguishable forms of the enzyme exist. The sensitivity of pure Glo-II-s to nucleotide inhibition is slowly lost on storage even at -80° C. This loss is accelerated at higher temperatures or in the presence of ATP. Kinetics studies on the resultant "insensitive" enzyme (Glo-II-i) show that a significant reduction of the affinity of the enzyme for the substrate, SLG, occurs and further suggest that only one form of the enzyme is kinetically distinguishable after "de-sensitization". Tryptophan fluorescence studies of the two enzyme preparations suggest that a subtle conformational change in the enzyme has occurred during de-sensitization. We have also observed that Glo-II-i is "resensitized" to nucleotide inhibition after incubation in the presence of a reagent that reduces disulfide bonds. The resensitized enzyme exhibits an increased KM value similar to that of the original Glo-II-s. Kinetics studies show that ATP or GTP again act as partial non-competitive inhibitors of the resensitized enzyme and suggest that only one form of the enzyme is present. The physiological significance of the two enzyme forms is discussed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc2183/
Palmitoyl-acyl carrier protein thioesterase in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.): biochemical and molecular characterization of a major mechanism for the regulation of palmitic acid content.
The relatively high level of palmitic acid (22 mol%) in cottonseeds may be due in part to the activity of a palmitoyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) thioesterase (PATE). In embryo extracts, PATE activity was highest at the maximum rate of reserve accumulation (oil and protein). The cotton FatB mRNA transcript abundance also peaked during this developmental stage, paralleling the profiles of PATE enzyme activity and seed oil accumulation. A cotton FatB cDNA clone was isolated by screening a cDNA library with a heterologous Arabidopsis FatB probe (Pirtle et al., 1999, Plant and Cell Physiology 40: 155-163). The predicted amino acid sequence of the cotton PATE preprotein had 63% identity to the Arabidopsis FatB thioesterase sequence, suggesting that the cotton cDNA clone probably encoded a FatB-type thioesterase. When acyl-CoA synthetase-minus E. coli mutants expressed the cotton cDNA, an increase in 16:0 free fatty acid content was measured in the culture medium. In addition, acyl-ACP thioesterase activity assays in E. coli lysates revealed that there was a preference for palmitoyl-ACP over oleoyl-ACP in vitro, indicating that the cotton putative FatB cDNA encoded a functional thioesterase with a preference for saturated acyl-ACPs over unsaturated acyl-ACPs (FatA). Overexpression of the FatB cDNA in transgenic cotton resulted in elevated levels of palmitic acid in transgenic somatic embryos compared to control embryos. Expression of the anti-sense FatB cDNA in transgenic cotton plants produced some plants with a dwarf phenotype. These plants had significantly smaller mature leaves, all with smaller cells, suggesting that these plants may have less palmitic acid available for incorporation into extraplastidial membrane lipids during cell expansion. Thus manipulation of FatB expression in cotton directly influenced palmitic acid levels. Collectively, data presented in this dissertation support the hypothesis that there indeed is a palmitoyl-ACP thioesterase in cotton, encoded by the isolated FatB cDNA, which plays a major role in regulating palmitic acid content of extraplastidial complex glycerolipids. This work forms the basis for future studies of the influence of palmitic acid content on plant membrane function and provides a key target for the metabolic engineering of palmitic acid levels in storage oils of developing cottonseeds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc2891/
Plastidial carbonic anhydrase in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.): characterization, expression, and role in lipid biosynthesis
Recently, plastidial carbonic anhydrase (CA, EC 4.2.1.1) cDNA clones encoding functional CA enzymes were isolated from a nonphotosynthetic cotton tissue. The role of CA in photosynthetic tissues have been well characterized, however there is almost no information for the role of CA in nonphotosynthetic tissues. A survey of relative CA transcript abundance and enzyme activity in different cotton organs revealed that there was substantial CA expression in cotyledons of seedlings and embryos, both nonphotosynthetic tissues. To gain insight into the role(s) of CA, I examined CA expression in cotyledons of seedlings during post-germinative growth at different environmental conditions. CA expression in cotyledons of seedlings increased from 18 h to 72 h after germination in the dark. Seedlings exposed to light had about a 2-fold increase in CA activities when compared with seedlings kept in the dark, whereas relative CA transcript levels were essentially the same. Manipulation of external CO2 environments [zero, ambient (350 ppm), or high (1000 ppm)] modulated coordinately the relative transcript abundance of CA (and rbcS) in cotyledons, but did not affect enzyme activities. On the other hand, regardless of the external CO2 conditions seedlings exposed to light exhibited increase CA activity, concomitant with Rubisco activity and increased chlorophyll content. Our data revealed that steady-state levels of CA and rbcS transcripts are regulated at the transcriptional level in response to external CO2 conditions, while CA and Rubisco activities are modulated at the post-transcriptional level by light. Thus CA expression in cotyledons during post-germinative growth may be to “prime” cotyledons for the transition at the subcellular level for the transition from plastids to chloroplasts, where it provides CO2 for Rubisco during photosynthesis. Furthermore, CA expression increased during embryo maturation similar to oil accumulation. Specific sulfonamide inhibitors of CA activity significantly reduced the rate of [14C]-acetate incorporation into total lipids in cotton embryos and tobacco leaves and cell suspensions in vivo and in vitro. Similar results were obtained in chloroplasts isolated from leaves of transgenic CA antisense-suppressed tobacco plants (5% of wildtype activity). Collectively, these results support the notion that CA plays several physiological roles in nonphotosynthetic tissues. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc2893/
Proteomic Responses in the Gill of Zebrafish Following Exposure to Ibuprofen and Naproxen
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most abundant environmental pharmaceutical contaminants. In this study, a proteomic analysis was conducted to identify proteins differentially expressed in gill tissue of zebrafish (Danio rerio) after a 14-day exposure to the NSAIDs ibuprofen or naproxen. A total of 104 proteins with altered expression as indicated by 2-dimensional electrophoresis were analyzed by liquid chromatography with ion trap mass spectrometry (MS/MS). A total of 14 proteins fulfilled our requirements for identification which included consistency among replicate gels as well as successful MS/MS ion searches with the MASCOT database. The most prominent feature of the differential protein expression observed after NSAID exposure was an up-regulation of proteins belonging to the globin family which are involved in the transport of oxygen from gills and availability of heme molecules required for synthesis of cyclooxygenase. Differential expression was observed at exposure concentrations as low as 1-10 µg/L indicating that altered gene expression may occur in fish subjected to environmentally realistic levels of NSAID exposure. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc149557/
The structure and function of troponin T upon metal ion binding and the detection of nucleic acid sequence variations.
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Numerous troponin T (TnT) isoforms are generated by alternative RNA splicing primarily in its NH2-terminal hypervariable region, but the functions of these isoforms are not completely understood. In this dissertation work, calcium and terbium binding behavior of several forms of TnT were investigated by spectroscopic and radioactive techniques. Chicken breast muscle TnT binds calcium and terbium through its NH2-terminal Tx motif (HEEAH)n with high affinity (10-6 mM) and fast on-rate (106 - 107 M-1 s-1). Chicken leg muscle TnT and a human cardiac TnT NH2-terminal fragment, which both lack the Tx motif on their NH2-terminal regions, do not have affinities for calcium in the physiological range. Computational predictions on TnT N47 suggest that the TnT NH2-terminal region might fold into an elongated structure with at least one high affinity metal ion binding pocket comprised primarily of the Tx motif sequence and several lower affinity binding sites. In addition, calcium binding to TnT N47 might alter its conformation and flexibility. Luminescence resonance energy transfer measurements and other experimental observations are consistent with the computational predictions suggesting the computational simulated atomic model is reasonable. TnT mutations are responsible for 15% of familiar hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (FHC) cases with a phenotype of relatively mild hypertrophy, but a high incidence of sudden death. Detection of those genetic mutations would facilitate the clinical diagnosis and initiation of treatment at an early stage. This dissertation also investigated a novel hybridization proximity assay (HYPA) combining molecular beacon and luminescence resonance energy transfer (LRET) technologies. Experimental results suggest that a shared stem probe design produces a more consistent response upon hybridization, whereas the internally labeled probe was less consistent, but can yield the highest responses. Using the optimally designed molecular probes, the HYPA provides a detection of alterations in nucleic acid structure of as little as a single nucleotide. This novel HYPA is expected to expand its applications in the analysis and screening of genetic diseases. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5565/