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  Partner: UNT Libraries
 Degree Discipline: Biochemistry
 Degree Level: Master's
N-Acylethanolamine (NAE) profiles change during Arabidopsis thaliana seed germination and seedling growth.
An understanding of the potential roles as lipid mediators of a family of bioactive metabolites called N-acylethanolamines (NAEs) depends on their accurate identification and quantification. The levels of 18C unsaturated NAEs (e.g. NAE18:2, NAE 18:3, etc.) in wild-type seeds (about 2000 ng/g fw) generally decreased by about 80% during germination and post-germinative growth. In addition, results suggest NAE-degradative fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) expression does not play a major role in normal NAE metabolism as previously thought. Seedlings germinated and grown in the presence of abscisic acid (ABA), an endogenous plant hormone, exhibited growth arrest and secondary dormancy, similar to the treatment of seedlings with exogenous N­lauroylethanolamine (NAE12:0). ABA-mediated growth arrest was associated with higher levels of unsaturated NAEs. Overall, these results are consistent with the concept that NAE metabolism is activated during seed germination and suggest that the reduction in unsaturated NAE levels is under strict temporal control and may be a requirement for normal seed germination and post-germinative growth.
FLP-mediated conditional loss of an essential gene to facilitate complementation assays
Commonly, when it is desirable to replace an essential gene with an allelic series of mutated genes, or genes with altered expression patterns, the complementing constructs are introduced into heterozygous plants, followed by the selection of homozygous null segregants. To overcome this laborious and time-consuming step, the newly developed two-component system utilizes a site-specific recombinase to excise a wild-type copy of the gene of interest from transformed tissues. In the first component (the first vector), a wild-type version of the gene is placed between target sequences recognized by FLP recombinase from the yeast 2 μm plasmid. This construct is transformed into a plant heterozygous for a null mutation at the endogenous locus, and progeny plants carrying the excisable complementing gene and segregating homozygous knockout at the endogenous locus are selected. The second component (the second vector) carries the experimental gene along with the FLP gene. When this construct is introduced, FLP recombinase excises the complementing gene, leaving the experimental gene as the only functional copy. The FLP gene is driven by an egg apparatus specific enhancer (EASE) to ensure excision of the complementing cDNA in the egg cell and zygote following floral-dip transformation. The utility of this system is being tested using various experimental derivatives of the essential sucrose-proton symporter, AtSUC2, which is required for photoassimilate transport.
Gene Expression Profiling of the nip Mutant in Medicago truncatula
The study of root nodule symbiosis between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and leguminous plant species is important because of the ability to supplement fixed nitrogen fertilizers and increase plant growth in poor soils. Our group has isolated a mutant called nip in the model legume Medicago truncatula that is defective in nodule symbiosis. The nip mutant (numerous infections with polyphenolics) becomes infected by Sinorhizobium meliloti but then accumulates polyphenolic defense compounds in the nodule and fails to progress to a stage where nitrogen fixation can occur. Analysis of the transcriptome of nip roots prior to inoculation with rhizobia was undertaken using Affymetric Medicago Genome Array microarrays. The total RNA of 5-day old uninoculated seedlings was analyzed in triplicate to screen for the NIP gene based on downregulated transcript levels in the mutant as compared to wild type. Further microarray data was generated from 10 days post inoculation (dpi) nip and wild type plants. Analysis of the most highly downregulated transcripts revealed that the NIP gene was not identifiable based on transcript level. Putative gene function was assigned to transcripts with altered expression patterns in order to characterize the nip mutation phenotypically as inferred from the transcriptome. Functional analysis revealed a large number of chaperone proteins were highly expressed in the nip mutant, indicating high stress in the mutant prior to infection by rhizobia. Additionally, a database containing the information regarding the nip expression profile at both 0 days post inoculation (dpi) and 10 dpi were created for screening of candidate genes as predicted from sequence in the genomic region containing NIP.
Genetic Modification of Fatty Acid Profiles in Cotton
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The industrial uses of cottonseed oil are limited by its fatty acid composition. Genetic modification of cotton lipid profiles using seed-specific promoters could allow cotton growers to produce valuable new oils in the seed without adverse effects on fiber quality and yield, therefore making this crop more commercially profitable. Transgenic cotton callus harboring a diverged fatty acid desaturase gene (FADX) from Momordica charantia was characterized for production of alpha-eleostearic acid (conjugated double bonds: 18:3 D9 cis, 11 trans, 13 trans), not normally found in cotton. Gas chromatography (GC) in conjunction with mass spectrometry (MS) confirmed production of alpha-eleostearic acid in the transgenic cotton tissues. A second series of transformation experiments introduced the cotton fatty acid thioesterase B (FATB) cDNA, fused to the seed-specific oleosin promoter into cotton to promote the over-expression of FATB, to generate cotton with increased palmitate in the cottonseed. PCR amplification, as well as fatty acid analysis by gas chromatography, confirmed introduction of the FATB cDNA in transgenic tissues. Collectively, these results demonstrate the feasibility of manipulating the fatty acid composition in cotton via transgenic approaches and form the basis for continued efforts to create novel oils in cottonseed.
Hindrance of the Myosin Power Stroke Posed by the Proximity to the Troponin Complex Identified Using a Novel LRET Fluorescent Nanocircuit
A novel luminescence resonance energy transfer (LRET) nanocircuit assay involving a donor and two acceptors in tandem was developed to study the dynamic interaction of skeletal muscle contraction proteins. The donor transmits energy relayed to the acceptors distinguishing myosin subfragment-1 (S1) lever arm orientations. The last acceptor allows the detection of S1's bound near or in between troponin complexes on the thin filament. Additionally, calcium related changes between troponin T and myosin were detected. Based on this data, the troponin complex situated every 7 actin monomers, hinders adjacently bound myosins to complete their power stroke; whereas myosins bound in between troponin complexes undergo complete power strokes.
Identification and quantification of lipid metabolites in cotton fibers: Reconciliation with metabolic pathway predictions from DNA databases.
The lipid composition of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum, L) fibers was determined. Fatty acid profiles revealed that linolenate and palmitate were the most abundant fatty acids present in fiber cells. Phosphatidylcholine was the predominant lipid class in fiber cells, while phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol and digalactosyldiacylglycerol were also prevalent. An unusually high amount of phosphatidic acid was observed in frozen cotton fibers. Phospholipase D activity assays revealed that this enzyme readily hydrolyzed radioactive phosphatidylcholine into phosphatidic acid. A profile of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) for genes involved in lipid metabolism in cotton fibers was also obtained. This EST profile along with our lipid metabolite data was used to predict lipid metabolic pathways in cotton fiber cells.
Identifying genetic interactions of the spindle checkpoint in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Faithful segregation of chromosomes is ensured by the spindle checkpoint. If a kinetochore does not correctly attach to a microtubule the spindle checkpoint stops cell cycle progression until all chromosomes are attached to microtubules or tension is experienced while pulling the chromosomes. The C. elegans gene, san-1, is required for spindle checkpoint function and anoxia survival. To further understand the role of san-1 in the spindle checkpoint, an RNAi screen was conducted to identify genetic interactions with san-1. The kinetochore gene hcp-1 identified in this screen, was known to have a genetic interaction with hcp-2. Interestingly, san-1(ok1580);hcp-2(ok1757) had embryonic and larval lethal phenotypes, but the phenotypes observed are less severe compared to the phenotypes of san-1(ok1580);hcp-1(RNAi) animals. Both san-1(ok1580);hcp-1(RNAi) and san-1(ok1580);hcp-2(RNAi) produce eggs that may hatch; but san-1(ok1580):hcp-1(RNAi) larvae do not survive to adulthood due to defects caused by aberrant chromosome segregations during development. Y54G9A.6 encodes the C. elegans homolog of bub-3, and has spindle checkpoint function. In C.elegans, bub-3 has genetic interactions with san-1 and mdf-2. An RNAi screen for genetic interactions with bub-3 identified that F31F6.3 may potentially have a genetic interaction with bub-3. This work provided genetic evidence that hcp-1, hcp-2 and F31F6.2 interact with spindle checkpoint genes.
Interactions of N-Acylethanolamine Metabolism and Abscisic Acid Signaling in Arabidopsis Thaliana Seedlings
N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are endogenous plant lipids hydrolyzed by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). When wildtype Arabidopsis thaliana seeds were germinated and grown in exogenous NAE 12:0 (35 µM and above), growth was severely reduced in a concentration dependent manner. Wildtype A. thaliana seeds sown on exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) exhibited similar growth reduction to that seen with NAE treatment. AtFAAH knockouts grew and developed similarly to WT, but AtFAAH overexpressor lines show markedly enhanced sensitivity to ABA. When low levels of NAE and ABA, which have very little effect on growth alone, were combined, there was a dramatic reduction in seedling growth in all three genotypes, indicating a synergistic interaction between ABA and NAE. Notably, this synergistic arrest of seedling growth was partially reversed in the ABA insensitive (abi) mutant abi3-1, indicating that a functional ABA signaling pathway is required for the full synergistic effect. This synergistic growth arrest results in an increased accumulation of NAEs, but no concomitant increase in ABA levels. The combined NAE and ABA treatment induced a dose-dependent increase in ABI3 transcript levels, which was inversely related to growth. The ABA responsive genes AtHVA22B and RD29B also had increased expression in both NAE and ABA treatment. The abi3-1 mutant showed no expression of ABI3 and AtHVA22B, but RD29B expression remained similar to wildtype seedlings, suggesting an alternate mechanism for NAE and ABA interaction. Taken together, these data suggest that NAE metabolism acts through ABI3-dependent and independent pathways in the negative regulation of seedling development.
Metabolic Engineering of Raffinose-Family Oligosaccharides in the Phloem Reveals Alterations in Patterns of Carbon Partitioning and Enhances Resistance to Green Peach Aphid
Phloem transport is along hydrostatic pressure gradients generated by differences in solute concentration between source and sink tissues. Numerous species accumulate raffinose-family oligosaccharides (RFOs) in the phloem of mature leaves to accentuate the pressure gradient between source and sinks. In this study, metabolic engineering was used to generate RFOs at the inception of the translocation stream of Arabidopsis thaliana, which transports predominantly sucrose. To do this, three genes, GALACTINOL SYNTHASE, RAFFINOSE SYNTHASE and STACHYOSE SYNTHASE, were expressed from promoters specific to the companion cells of minor veins. Two transgenic lines homozygous for all three genes (GRS63 and GRS47) were selected for further analysis. Sugars were extracted and quantified by high performance anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection (HPAEC-PAD), and 21-day old plants of both lines had levels of galactinol, raffinose, and stachyose approaching 50% of total soluble sugar. All three exotic sugars were also identified in phloem exudates from excised leaves of transgenic plants whereas levels were negligible in exudates from wild type leaves. Differences in starch accumulation or degradation between wild type and GRS63 and GRS47 lines were not observed. Similarly, there were no differences in vegetative growth between wild type and engineered plants, but engineered plants flowered earlier. Finally, since the sugar composition of the phloem translocation stream is altered in these plants, we tested for aphid feeding. When green peach aphids were given a choice between WT and transgenic plants, WT plants were preferred. When aphids were reared on only WT or only transgenic plants, aphid fecundity was reduced on the transgenic plants. When aphids were fed on artificial media with and without RFOs, aphid reproduction did not show differences, suggesting the aphid resistance is not a direct effect of the exotic sugars.
Molecular and biochemical characterization of phospholipase D in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L) seedlings.
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N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are enriched in seed-derived tissues and are believed to be formed from the membrane phospholipid, N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine (NAPE) via the action of phospholipase D (PLD). In an effort to identify a functional NAPE-PLD in cotton seeds and seedlings, we have screened a cotton seedling cDNA (cotyledon mRNA from 48 h dark grown seedlings) library with a 1.2 kb tobacco partial cDNA fragment encoding the middle third of a putative PLDβ/γ (genbank accession, AF195614) isoform. Six plaques were isolated from the Uni-ZAP lambda library, excised as pBluescript SK(-) phagemids and subjected to nucleotide sequence analysis. Alignment of derived sequences with Arabidopsis PLD family members indicated that the cDNAs represent six different PLD gene products -three putative PLD β isoforms and three putative PLD δ isoforms. The PLD β isoforms, designated Ghpldβ1a, GHpldβ1b and a truncated Ghpldβ1b isoform. Both the full-length PLD β proteins contained characteristic HKxxxxD catalytic domains, a PC-binding domain, a PIP2-binding domain and a C2 domain. In addition both cotton PLD β isoforms had a N-terminal "SPQY" rich domain which appeared to be unique to these PLDs. The three PLD δ isoforms, designated Ghpldδ1a, Ghpldδ1b and Ghpldδ1b-2 encode full-length PLDδ proteins, and like the above PLDs, contained the characteristic catalytic and regulatory domains. The expression of Ghpldδ1b showed hydrolytic and transphosphatidylation activity toward radiolabelled phosphatidylcholine (PC) but it appears Ghpldδ1b does not utilize NAPE as a substrate to produce NAEs nor does it seem to be suppressed by NAEs.
Noncovalent crosslinking of SH1 and SH2 to detect dynamic flexibility of the SH1 helix
In this experiment, fluorescent N- (1-pyrenyl) iodoacetamide modified the two reactive thiols, SH1 (Cys 707) and SH2 (Cys 697) on myosin to detect SH1-SH2 a -helix melting. The excimer forming property of pyrene is well suited to monitor the dynamics of the SH1 and SH2 helix melting, since the excimer should only form during the melted state. Decreased anisotropy of the excimer relative to the monomeric pyrene fluorescence is consistent with the disordering of the melted SH1-SH2 region in the atomic model. Furthermore, nucleotide analogs induced changes in the anisotropy of the excimer, suggesting that the nucleotide site modulates the flexibility of SH1-SH2 region.
NSAID effect on prostanoids in fishes: Prostaglandin E2 levels in bluntnose minnows (Pimephales notatus) exposed to ibuprofen.
Prostanoids are oxygenated derivatives of arachidonic acid with a wide range of physiological effects in vertebrates including modulation of inflammation and innate immune responses. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) act through inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX) conversion of arachidonic acid to prostanoids. In order to better understand the potential of environmental NSAIDS for interruption of normal levels COX products in fishes, we developed an LC/MS/MS-based approach for tissue analysis of 7 prostanoids. Initial studies examining muscle, gut and gill demonstrated that prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) was the most abundant of the measured prostanoids in all tissues and that gill tissue had the highest and most consistent concentrations of PGE2. After short-term 48-h laboratory exposures to concentrations of 5, 25, 50 and 100 ppb ibuprofen, 50.0ppb and 100.0 ppb exposure concentrations resulted in significant reduction of gill tissue PGE2 concentration by approximately 30% and 80% respectively. The lower exposures did not result in significant reductions when compared to unexposed controls. Measured tissue concentrations of ibuprofen indicated that this NSAID had little potential for bioaccumulation (BCF 1.3) and the IC50 of ibuprofen for inhibition of PGE2 production in gill tissue was calculated to be 0.4 µM. Short-term laboratory exposure to ibuprofen did not result in significant alteration of concentrations of PGE2 at environmentally relevant concentrations.
The Relationship of Force on Myosin Subfragment 2 Region to the Coiled-Coiled Region of the Myosin Dimer
The stability of myosin subfragment 2 was analyzed using gravitational force spectroscopy. The region was found to destabilize under physiological force loads, indicating the possibility that subfragment 2 may uncoil to facilitate actin binding during muscle contraction. As a control, synthetic cofilaments were produced to discover if the observations in the single molecule assay were due to the lack of the stability provided by the thick filament. Statistically, there was no difference between the single molecule assay data and the synthetic cofilament assay data. Thus, the instability of the region is due to intrinsic properties within subfragment 2.
Stretching the Flexible Myosin II Subfragment Using the Novel Gravitational Force Spectroscope, and the Uncoiling of S2
Familial Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) causes ventricle walls to thicken and often leads to sudden death especially in adults. Mutations in the subfragment 2 (S2) of β-cardiac myosin are implicated in the genetic disorder. This S2 region is a coiled-coil rod region resulting from the dimeric form of myosin II. It has been proposed that an elastic quality allows normal S2 to absorb force during the powerstroke according to the sliding filament model. To test the flexibility of single molecules of S2 against levels of physiological force, the Gravitational Force Spectrometer (GFS) is being developed. This novel system employs a standard microscope on an equatorial mount that allows the spectrometer to be rotated freely in space. Stationary glass beads are attached to a microscope slide where the molecule is tethered between the stationary bead and a smaller mobile bead. The GFS is oriented so that the force of gravity can act on the mobile bead and so impart a small force to the tethered subfragment. Additionally, a video system in conjunction with ImageJ software makes a distance measurement of the molecule possible with a resolution of around 11 nm. The S2 can be stretched parallel or perpendicular to the coiled coil to elucidate different structural properties of the rod. This study is the first to show structural evidence that S2 in vertebrate skeletal myosin uncoils proportionally to physiological force loads. Because of this, the usefulness and promise of the novel GFS is highlighted, and the biological role of S2's flexibility can be directly commented on. If the dimer undergoes uncoiling at physiological force loads as shown, then it is reasonable to think that this might occur in nature in response to the stress of the powerstroke on a single molecule. This unwinding could be to absorb force as a mechanism to protect the muscle fiber.
Studies on actomyosin crossbridge flexibility using a new single molecule assay.
Several key flexure sites exist in the muscle crossbridge including the actomyosin binding site which play important roles in the actomyosin crossbridge cycle. To distinguish between these sources of flexibility, a new single molecule assay was developed to observe the swiveling of rod about a single myosin. Myosins attached through a single crossbridge displayed mostly similar torsional characteristics compared to myosins attached through two crossbridges, which indicates that most of the torsional flexibility resides in the myosin subfragment-2, and thus the hinge between subfragment-2 and light meromyosin should contribute the most to this flexibility. The comparison of torsional characteristics in the absence and presence of ADP demonstrated a small but significant increase in twist rates for the double-headed myosins but no increase for single-headed myosins, which indicates that the ADP-induced increase in flexibility arises due to changes in the myosin head and verifies that most flexibility resides in myosin subfragment-2.
Tobacco Phospholipase D β1: Molecular Cloning and Biochemical Characterization
Transgenic tobacco plants were developed containing a partial PLD clone in antisense orientation. The PLD isoform targeted by the insertion was identified. A PLD clone was isolated from a cDNA library using the partial PLD as a probe: Nt10B1 shares 92% identity with PLDβ1 from tomato but lacks the C2 domain. PCR analysis confirmed insertion of the antisense fragment into the plants: three introns distinguished the endogenous gene from the transgene. PLD activity was assayed in leaf homogenates in PLDβ/g conditions. When phosphatidylcholine was utilized as a substrate, no significant difference in transphosphatidylation activity was observed. However, there was a reduction in NAPE hydrolysis in extracts of two transgenic plants. In one of these, a reduction in elicitor- induced PAL expression was also observed.
Use of luminescence energy transfer probes to detect genetic variants.
The purpose of this research was to study the hybridization of molecular beacons under different conditions and designs. Data collected suggest that the inconsistency found in the emission intensity of several of these probes may be caused by 3 important factors: length of the probe, nucleotide sequence and, the formation of an alternative complex structure such as a dimer. Of all three factors, dimer formation is the most troublesome, since it reduces the emission of the reporter molecules. A new probe design was used to reduce dimer formation. The emission signal of the improved probe was several folds stronger than those probes with the early design. In this research, dimer formation is detected, furthermore a new probe with a different design was tested. If dimer formation can be reduced molecular beacons can be integrated into more complex hybridization systems providing an important tool in research and diagnosis of genetic disorders.