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- Stress Response by Alternative Σ-factor, Rpoh, and Analysis of Posttranslational Modification of the Heat Shock Protein, Dnak, in Escherichia Coli
- Bacteria have developed specialized responses that involve the expression of particular genes present in a given regulon. Sigma factors provide regulatory mechanisms to respond to stress by acting as transcriptional initiation factors. This work focuses on σ32 during oxidative stress in Escherichia coli. The differential response of key heat shock (HS) genes was investigated during HS and oxidative stress using qPCR techniques. While groEL and dnaJ experienced increases in transcriptional response to H2O2 (10 mM), HS (42°C), and paraquat (50 mM) exposure, the abundance of dnaK over the co-chaperones was apparent. It was hypothesized that DnaK undergoes oxidative modification by reactive carbonyls at its Lys-rich C-terminus, accounting for the differential response during oxidative stress. A σ32-mediated β-galactosidase reporter was devised to detect the activity of wild-type DnaK and DnaKV634X modified to lack the Lys-rich C-terminus. Under unstressed conditions and HS, σ32 was bound at the same rate in both strains. When subjected to H2O2, the WT DnaK strain produced significantly higher β-galactosidase than DnaKV634X (one-tailed Student’s t test p=0.000002, α=0.05) and approached the same level of output as the lacZ positive control. The β-galactosidase assay indicates that DnaK undergoes Lys modification in the WT strain, preventing the protein from binding σ32, increasing the activity of σ32, and resulting in higher β-galactosidase activity than the DnaKV634X strain. In the DnaKV634X strain DnaK continues to bind σ32 so that σ32 could not promote the production of β-galactosidase. These findings demonstrate how DnaK is oxidatively modified, hindering the interaction with σ32 in manner distinct from HS.
- Investigation of Strategies for Improving STR Typing of Degraded and Low Copy DNA from Human Skeletal Remains and Bloodstains
- Forensic STR analysis is limited by the quality and quantity of DNA. Significant damage or alteration to the molecular structure of DNA by depurination, crosslinking, base modification, and strand breakage can impact typing success. Two methods that could potentially improve STR typing of challenged samples were explored: an in vitro DNA repair assay (PreCR™ Repair Mix) and whole genome amplification. Results with the repair assay showed trends of improved performance of STR profiling of bleach-damaged DNA. However, the repair assay did not improve DNA profiles from environmentally-damaged bloodstains or bone, and in some cases resulted in lower RFU values for STR alleles. The extensive spectrum of DNA damage and myriad combinations of lesions that can be present in forensic samples appears to pose a challenge for the in vitro PreCR™ assay. The data suggest that the use of PreCR™ in casework should be considered with caution due to the assay’s varied results. As an alternative to repair, whole genome amplification (WGA) was pursued. The DOP-PCR method was selected for WGA because of initial primer design and greater efficacy for amplifying degraded samples. Several modifications of the original DOP-PCR primer were evaluated. These modifications allowed for an overall more robust amplification of damaged DNA from both contemporary and historical skeletal remains compared with that obtained by standard DNA typing and a previously described DOP-PCR method. These new DOP-PCR primers show promise for WGA of degraded DNA.
- Engineered Microbial Consortium for the Efficient Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels
- Current energy and environmental challenges are driving the use of cellulosic materials for biofuel production. A major obstacle in this pursuit is poor ethanol tolerance among cellulolytic Clostridium species. The first objective of this work was to establish a potential upper boundary of ethanol tolerance for the cellulosome itself. The hydrolytic function of crude cellulosome extracts from C. cellulolyticum on carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) with 0, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25% (v/v) ethanol was determined. Results indicated that the endoglucanase activity of the cellulosome incubated in 5% and 10% ethanol was significantly different from a control without ethanol addition. Furthermore a significant difference was observed in endoglucanase activity for cellulosome incubated in 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 25% ethanol in a standalone experiment. Endoglucanase activity continued to be observed for up to 25% ethanol, indicating that cellulosome function in ethanol will not be an impediment to future efforts towards engineering increasing production titers to levels at least as high as the current physiological limits of the most tolerant ethanologenic microbes. The second objective of this work was to study bioethanol production by a microbial co-culture involving Clostridium cellulolyticum and a recombinant Zymomonas mobilis engineered for the utilization of oligodextrans. The recombinant Z. mobilis ZM4 pAA1 and wild type ZM4 were first tested on RM medium (ATCC 1341) containing 2% cellobiose as the carbon source. Ethanol production from the recombinant Z. mobilis was three times that observed from the wild type Z. mobilis. Concomitant with ethanol production was the reduction in OD from 2.00 to 1.580, indicating the consumption of cellobiose. No such change in OD was observed from the wild type. The recombinant ZM4 was then co-cultured with C. cellulolyticum using cellobiose and microcrystalline cellulose respectively as carbon sources. Results indicate that the recombinant ZM4 acted synergistically with C. cellulolyticum to utilize 2.0 g L-1 cellobiose, producing as much as 0.40 mM concentration of ethanol whereas only 0.20 mM ethanol was detected for the wild type ZM4 co-cultured with C. cellulolyticum under the same conditions. A co-culture of the recombinant ZM4 and C. cellulolyticum using 7.5 g L-1 microcrystalline cellulose gave lower ethanol yield than when using cellobiose. In the latter case, the recombinant began producing ethanol in 5 days whereas the wild type required 10 days to produce detectable ethanol. Future efforts will concentrate on identifying the correct concentration of cellulosic substrate at which synergy will be observed using the recombinant ZM4 and other cellulose degrading microorganisms, as well as optimizing medium formulations to better support both organisms.
- Investigating the Ability of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Pyre Mutants to Grow and Produce Virulence Factors
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa are medically important bacteria that are notorious for causing nosocomial infections. To gain more knowledge into understanding how this organism operates, it was decided to explore the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway. Pyrimidine synthesis, being one half of the DNA structure, makes it a very important pathway to the organism’s survivability. With previous studies being done on various genes in the pathway, pyrE has not been studied to the fullest extent. To study the function of pyrE, a site directed mutagenesis was done to completely knock out pyrE, which encodes the protein orotate phosphoribosyl transferase that is responsible for converting orotate into orotate monophosphate (OMP). A mutation in this step leads to accumulation and secretion of orotate into the medium. Analyzing virulence factors produced by the mutant and comparing to the wild type, some intriguing features of the mutant were discovered. One of the findings was the over expression of virulence factors pyoverdin and pyocyanin. Pyocyanin over expression, based on the results of this study, is due to the accumulation of orotate while over production of pyoverdin is due to the accumulation of dihydroorotate. The other virulence factors studied were motility assays, exoproducts, and growth analysis. All virulence factor production was reduced significantly in the mutant compared to the wild type. The casein protease assay showed absolutely no production of proteases in the mutant. The conclusion is that orotate accumulation leads to a significant reduction in virulence factor production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In addition to that, it was found that excess orotate in the wild type led to a decrease in quorum sensing regulated products.
- Mutagenized HLA DNA Constructs: Tools for Validating Molecular HLA Typing Methodologies
- This study describes the development and validation of mutagenized cloned DNA constructs, which correspond to the polymorphic regions of the class II region of the HLA complex. The constructs were used to verify the allelic specificity of primers and probes in polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based HLA typing assays such as Sequence Specific Primers (SSP) and Sequence Specific Oligonucleotide Probes (SSOP). The constructs consisted of the entire polymorphic region of exon 2 of class II HLA allele sequences that included primer annealing sites or probe hybridization sites. An HLA allele sequence was inserted into a plasmid, cloned, then mutagenized to match a specific HLA allele, and finally, the correct clone was verified by bidirectional sequencing of the insert. Thus, the construct created a cloned reference DNA sample for any specific allele, and can be used to validate the accuracy of various molecular methodologies.
- Origin and Role of Factor Viia
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Factor VII, the initiator of the extrinsic coagulation cascade, circulates in human plasma mainly in its zymogen form, Factor VII and in small amounts in its activated form, Factor VIIa. However, the mechanism of initial generation of Factor VIIa is not known despite intensive research using currently available model systems. Earlier findings suggested serine proteases Factor VII activating protease, and hepsin play a role in activating Factor VII, however, it has remained controversial. In this work I estimated the levels of Factor VIIa and Factor VII for the first time in adult zebrafish plasma and also reevaluated the role of the above two serine proteases in activating Factor VII in vivo using zebrafish as a model system. Knockdown of factor VII activating protease did not reduce Factor VIIa levels while hepsin knockdown reduced Factor VIIa levels. After identifying role of hepsin in Factor VII activation in zebrafish, I wanted to identify novel serine proteases playing a role in Factor VII activation. However, a large scale knockdown of all serine proteases in zebrafish genome using available knockdown techniques is prohibitively expensive. Hence, I developed an inexpensive gene knockdown method which was validated with IIb gene knockdown, and knockdown all serine proteases in zebrafish genome. On performing the genetic screen I identified 2 novel genes, hepatocytes growth factor like and prostasin involved in Factor VII activation.
- Regulation of Colony-Stimulating Factor-1 Biosynthesis
- Recent studies suggest that synthesis of the Colony-stimulating factor (CSF) is a well regulated process. However, the molecular mechanisms of the signal transduction of the various inducers of CSF such as monokines and lymphokines are not well understood. Using Interleukin 1 (IL-1) stimulation of CSF-1 in the MIA PaCa-2 cell line as a model system, the involvement of G-protein has been studied. The IL-1 induction of CSF-1 synthesis can be inhibited by both Pertussis toxin and Cholera toxin, which are known to modify the Gᵢ and Gₛ proteins respectively, thus activating adenylate cyclase to release more cAMP. The toxin inactivation can be prevented by inhibitors of the ADP-ribosylation such as, benzamide and MBAMG. Addition of dibutyryl-cAMP inhibits the IL-1 induced CSF production. Both Theophylline and Forskolin which increase cAMP by inhibiting phosphodiesterase and stimulating adenylate cyclase respectively, also inhibit CSF-1 production. Results from these studies have shown that cAMP level inversely regulates the biosynthesis of CSF-1. Preincubation of MIA PaCa-2 cells with IL-1 and 5'- guanylylimidodiphosphate (GppNHp) prevents the inhibitory effect of pertussis toxin on CSF-1 production. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that IL-1 binds to its receptor and couples to Gᵢ∝ resulting in the inhibition of adenylate cyclase and reducing cAMP level. Lowering of the' cAMP level leads to the activation of CSF-1 gene expression. The activity of another inducer of CSF-1 production in this system, 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), can be abolished by 1- (5-isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-methylpiperazine dihydrochloride (H-7), which is a specific inhibitor of protein kinase C. However, H-7 failed to inhibit IL-1 stimulated CSF-1 production. Other known activators of protein kinase C namely, Ca²⁺ and L-α-l-oleoyl-2-acetoyl-sn- 3-glycerol (OAG), also increase CSF production. On the other hand, Indomethacin which is known to inhibit prostaglandin E (PGE), stimulates CSF-1 production in MIA PaCa-2 cells. These data suggest that different mechanisms for stimulation of CSF-1 synthesis exist in MIA PaCa-2 cells depending on the inducer. The IL-1 stimulated pathway which does not require PKC activity and appears to be associated with adenylyl cyclase regulation whereas phorbol ester induced pathway involves protein kinase C in the signaling process as expected.
- DNA Typing of HLA-B by PCR with Primer Mixes Utilizing Sequence-Specific Primers
- The aim of this study was to design a resolution typing system for the HLA-B gene. This technique involves a one-step PCR reaction utilizing genomic DNA and sequence-specific primers to determine the specificity of each allele and to produce a larger primer data base ideal for serological analysis. The application of this technique to serological analysis can improve serology detection which is currently hindered by antibody cross-reactivity and the unavailability of useful typing reagents.
- Subcloning and Nucleotide Sequence of the xylO/PUWCMA Region from the Pseudomonas putida TOL Plasmid pDK1
- The TOL plasmids of Pseudomonas putida encode enzymes required for the oxidation of toluene and other related aromatic compounds. These genes are organized into two operons, the xylUWCMABN operon (upper), and the xylXYZLTEGFJQKIH operon (lower). Here we report the nucleotide sequence of a 7107 bp segment of the TOL pDK1 plasmid encoding the region just upstream of the "upper" operon through the genes encoding xylUWCMA. Sequence analysis, comparison of base-usage patterns, codon-usage patterns, and intergenic distances between genes help support the idea that the "upper" and "lower" operons have evolved independently in different genetic backgrounds and have only more recently been brought together in TOL and related catabolic plasmids.
- Isolation and Characterization of the Operon Containing Aspartate Transcarbamoylase and Dihydroorotase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- The Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCase was cloned and sequenced to determine the correct size, subunit composition and architecture of this pivotal enzyme in pyrimidine biosynthesis. During the course of this work, it was determined that the ATCase of Pseudomonas was not 360,000 Da but rather present in a complex of 484,000 Da consisting of two different polypeptides (36,000 Da and 44,000 Da) with an architecture similar to that of E. coli ATCase, 2(C3):3(r2). However, there was no regulatory polypeptide found in the Pseudomonas ATCase.
- Cloning of Carbonic Anhydrase from Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)
- Carbonic anhydrase is a ubiquitous zinc-metalloenzyme that catalyzes the interconversion of carbon dioxide and carbonate and has been found to play a wide range of roles in animals, plants and bacteria. Cotton genomic and cDNA libraries were screened for the plastidial isoform of carbonic anhydrase. The nucleotide sequences of two 1.2 Kb partial cDNA clones were determined. These clones exhibit high homology to carbonic anhydrases from other dicot plants and possess all the expected peptide motifs. For example, serine and threonine rich chloroplastic targeting peptide and conserved zinc binding residues are both present. These clones were utilized to isolate two carbonic anhydrase genes that were shown to encode different isoforms by PCR and RFLP analysis.
- Effects of a Methylcholanthrene-Induced Lymphosarcoma on Various Tissues of DBA/1J and Swiss White Mice
- This investigation was concerned with characterizing effects of this tumor line on lipid metabolism in DBA/lJ mice and serum protein levels and cellular changes in DBA/lJ and Swiss white mice. Total lipids, lipid phosphorus, neutral lipids, and changes in fatty acids were determined in liver, spleen, skin, and tumor of DBA/lJ mice bearing the lymphosarcoma at various days after injection of tumor cells.
- Regulation, Evolution, and Properties of the ato Qperon and its Gene Products in Escherichia coli
- The regulation of short chain fatty acid metabolism has been examined. Metabolism of acetoacetate, and short chain fatty acids such as butyrate and valerate, is predicated upon the expression of genes of the ato operon. Acetoacetate induces expression of a CoA transferase (encoded by the atoDA genes) and expression of a thiolase (encoded by the atoB gene). Metabolism of saturated short chain fatty acids requires the activities of the transferase and thiolase and enzymes of 6-oxidation as well. Spontaneous mutant strains were isolated that were either constitutive or that were inducible by valerate or butyrate instead of acetoacetate.
- Subcloning and Nucleotide Sequence of Two Positive Acting Regulatory Genes, xy1R and xy1S, from the Pseudomonas putida HS1 TOL Plasmid PDK1
- TOL plasmids of Pseudomonas putida encode enzymes for the degradation of toluene and related aromatics. These genes are organized into two operons regulated by the Xy1R and Xy1S transcriptional activators. Previous analysis of the TOL pDK1 catechol-2,3-dioxygenase gene (xy1E) and a comparison of this gene to xy1E from the related TOL plasmid pWW0, revealed the existance of a substantial level of sequence homology (82%).
- Construction of a Cloning Vector Based upon a Rhizobium Plasmid Origin of Replication and its Application to Genetic Engineering of Rhizobium Strains
- Rhizobia are Gram-negative, rod-shaped, soil bacteria with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia as symbiont bacteroids within nodules of leguminous plant roots. Here, resident Rhizobium plasmids were studied as possible sources of components for the construction of a cloning vector for Rhizobium species.
- Nucleotide Sequence Determination, Subcloning, Expression and Characterization of the xy1LT Region of the Pseudomonas putida TOL Plasmid pDK1
- The complete nucleotide sequence of the region encoding the DHCDH function of the pDK1 lower operon was determined. DNA analysis has shown the presence of two open reading frames, one gene consisting of 777 nucleotides encoding a polypeptide of 27.85 kDa and another gene of 303 nucleotides encoding a polypeptide of 11.13 kDa. The results of enzymatic expression studies suggest that DHCDH activity is associated only with xy1L. However although the addition of xy1T cell-free extracts to xy1L cell-free extracts does not produce an increase in DHCDH activity, subclones carrying both xy1L and xy1T exhibit 300- 400% more DHCDH activity than subclones carrying only xy1L.
- Cell-Free Recovery and Isotopic Identification of Cyanide Degrading Enzymes from Pseudomonas Fluorescens
- Cell-free extracts from Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764 catalyzed the degradation of cyanide into products that included C02, formic acid, formamide and ammonia. Cyanide-degrading activity was localized to cytosolic cell fractions and was observed at substrate concentrations as high as 100 mM. Two cyanide degrading activities were identified by: (i) the determination of reaction products stoichiometries, (ii) requirements for NADH and oxygen, and (iii) kinetic analysis. The first activity produced CO2 and NH3 as reaction products, was dependent on oxygen and NADH for activity, and displayed an apparent Km for cyanide of 1.2 mM. The second activity generated formic acid (and NH3) pfus formamide as reaction products, was oxygen independent, and had an apparent Km of 12 mM for cyanide. The first enzymatic activity was identified as cyanide oxygenase whereas the second activity consists of two enzymes, a cyanide nitrilase (dihydratase) and putative cyanide hydratase. In addition to these enzymes, cyanide-grown cells were also induced for formate dehydrogenase (FDH), providing a means of recycling NADH utilized by cyanide oxygenase.
- Novel Role of Trypsin in Zebrafish
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It has been shown previously in our laboratory that zebrafish produce trypsin from their gills when they are under stress, and this trypsin is involved in thrombocyte activation via PAR2 during gill bleeding. In this study, I investigated another role of the trypsin that is secreted from zebrafish. This investigation has demonstrated a novel role of trypsin in zebrafish. Not only did this investigation demonstrate the role of trypsin in zebrafish behavior, but also it showed that PAR2 might be the receptor that is involved in trypsin-mediated behavioral response. In addition, we have shown that Gq and ERK inhibitors are able to block the trypsin pathway and prevent the escaping behavior. Finally, the results of this investigation suggest that the cells that respond to trypsin are surface cells, which have an appearance similar to that of neuromast cells.
- Zebrafish Von Willebrand Factor
- In humans, von Willebrand factor (vWF) is a key component in hemostasis and acts as a 'cellular adhesive' by letting the circulating platelets bind to exposed subendothelium. It also acts as a carrier and stabilizer of factor VIII (FVIII). A dysfunction or reduction of vWF leads to von Willebrand disease (vWD), resulting in bleeding phenotype which affects 1% of the population. Currently there are a variety of animal models used for the study of vWF and vWD; however, they do not possess the advantages found in zebrafish. Therefore, we set out to establish zebrafish as a model for the investigation of vWF and vWD through the use of bioinformatics and various molecular techniques. Using bioinformatics we found that the vWF gene is located on chromosome 18, that the GPIb? protein sequence is conserved. Confirmation of vWF production was shown by means of immunostaining and by RT-PCR, in thrombocytes as well as in veins and arteries. Evidence of vWF involvement in hemostasis and thrombosis was shown using MO and VMO technology to produce a vWD like phenotype, resulting in an increase in TTO and TTA, as well as a reduction in FVIII when blood was tested using the kPTT assay, coinciding with a decrease in vWF. Stimate treatment provided opposite results of MO and VMO, showing a decrease in TTO and TTA. Investigation of the role of microparticles in hemostasis and their interaction with vWF resulted in a conclusion that the GPIb? receptor should exist on MPs and that it may interact not only with zebrafish vWF but also with human UL-vWF. Agglutination of MPs in the presence of UL-vWF but in the absence of ristocetin and plasma, treatment with ADAMTS-13 abolishing the interaction between MPs and UL-vWF provided evidence that vWF interacts with MPs probably with the GPIb?. We also found that TMPs agglutinate within the vessel wall in vivo when treated with Stimate. In conclusion, this research provided evidence for the presence of vWF in zebrafish and its conserved role in hemostasis. In addition to this we also showed that MPs also participation in hemostasis.
- Changes in Gene Expression Levels of the Ecf Sigma Factor Bov1605 Under Ph Shift and Oxidative Stress in the Sheep Pathogen Brucella Ovis
- Brucella ovis is a sexually transmitted, facultatively anaerobic, intracellular bacterial pathogen of sheep (Ovis aries) and red deer (Cervus elaphus). Brucella spp. infect primarily by penetrating the mucosa and are phagocytized by host macrophages, where survival and replication occurs. At least in some species, it has been shown that entry into stationary phase is necessary for successful infection. Brucella, like other alphaproteobacteria, lack the canonical stationary phase sigma factor ?s. Research on diverse members of this large phylogenetic group indicate the widespread presence of a conserved four-gene set including an alternative ECF sigma factor, an anti-sigma factor, a response regulator (RR), and a histidine kinase (HK). The first description of the system was made in Methylobacterium extorquens where the RR, named PhyR, was found to regulate the sigma factor activity by sequestering the anti-sigma factor in a process termed "sigma factor mimicry." These systems have been associated with various types of extracellular stress responses in a number of environmental bacteria. I hypothesized that homologous genetic sequences (Bov_1604-1607), which are similarly found among all Brucella species, may regulate survival functions during pathogenesis. To further explore the involvement of this system to conditions analogous to those occurring during infection, pure cultures of B. ovis cells were subjected to environments of pH (5 and 7) for 15, 30, and 45 minutes and oxidative (50mM H2O2) stress, or Spermine NONOate for 60 minutes. RNA was extracted and converted to cDNA andchanges in transcript levels of the sigma factor Bov1605 were measured using qPCR. Preliminary results indicate that under the exposure to Spermine NONOate there was little change in expression, but under oxidative stress expression of the sigma factor Bov1605 was 4.68-fold higher than that expressed under normal conditions. These results suggest that the sigma factor Bov1605 may be involved in oxidative stress defense during infection. Under acid stress (pH5), Bov1605 was found to be upregulated at 15 and 30 minutes, but after 45 and 60 minutes the time decreased.
- Effects of a Methylcholanthrene-Induced Lymphosarcoma on the Blood of DBA/1J Mice
- This investigation was concerned with characterizing a tumor line induced and maintained in this laboratory. Various chemical assays, cell counts, and electron microscopy were the methods employed to characterize the blood of mice bearing the tumor at days 3, 6, 9, and 12 after injection of the 1.2 x 10^8 tumor cells.
- Comparison of Aspartate Transcarbamoylase Activity Between Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Which Has One Chromosome and Burkholderia Cepacia Which Has Three Chromosomes
- The pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway is essential and similar in all bacteria. The pathway from Pseudomonas is regulated by nucleotides which bind to the upstream region of the pyrBC’ gene complex. Work in our lab mapped the genes and showed that the pyrB and pyrC’ were part of an overlap complex. The Pseudomonas aeruginosa has one circular chromosome. A former Pseudomonas now called Burkholderia cepacia is similar to P. aeruginosa except that it contains three circular chromosomes (CI, CII, CIII) and one large plasmid. The primary chromosome named CI contains the pyrBC’. To our knowledge there has been no report of the activity of ATCase in Pseudomonas and contrasted with that of Burkholderia. Here, we compare the activity of ATCase in P. aeruginosa and B .cepacia. Cells of both organisms were grown in Pseudomonas minimal medium and in Enriched medium. The ATCase was extracted and partially purified from each sample. It is hypothesized that the B. cepacia has greater activity for ATCase than do the Pseudomonas.
- 9-Lipoxygenase Oxylipin Pathway in Plant Response to Biotic Stress
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The activity of plant 9-lipoxygenases (LOXs) influences the outcome of Arabidopsis thaliana interaction with pathogen and insects. Evidence provided here indicates that in Arabidopsis, 9-LOXs facilitate infestation by Myzus persicae, commonly known as the green peach aphid (GPA), a sap-sucking insect, and infection by the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum. in comparison to the wild-type plant, lox5 mutants, which are deficient in a 9-lipoxygenase, GPA population was smaller and the insect spent less time feeding from sieve elements and xylem, thus resulting in reduced water content and fecundity of GPA. LOX5 expression is induced rapidly in roots of GPA-infested plants. This increase in LOX5 expression is paralleled by an increase in LOX5-synthesized oxylipins in the root and petiole exudates of GPA-infested plants. Micrografting experiments demonstrated that GPA population size was smaller on plants in which the roots were of the lox5 mutant genotype. Exogenous treatment of lox5 mutant roots with 9-hydroxyoctadecanoic acid restored water content and population size of GPA on lox5 mutants. Together, these results suggest that LOX5 genotype in roots is critical for facilitating insect infestation of Arabidopsis. in Arabidopsis, 9-LOX function is also required for facilitating infection by F. graminearum, which is a leading cause of Fusarium head blight (FHB) disease in wheat and other small grain crops. Loss of LOX1 and LOX5 function resulted in enhanced resistance to F. graminearum infection. Similarly in wheat, RNA interference mediated silencing of the 9-LOX homolog TaLpx1, resulted in enhanced resistance to F. graminearum. Experiments in Arabidopsis indicate that 9-LOXs promote susceptibility to this fungus by suppressing the activation of salicylic acid-mediated defense responses that are important for basal resistance to this fungus. the lox1 and lox5 mutants were also compromised for systemic acquired resistance (SAR), an inducible defense mechanism that is systemically activated throughout a plant in response to a localized infection. the lox1 and lox5 mutants exhibited reduced cell death and delayed hypersensitive response when challenged with an avirulent strain of the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato. LOX1 and LOX5 functions were further required for the synthesis as well as perception of a SAR-inducing activity present in petiole exudates collected from wild-type avirulent pathogen-challenged leaves. Taken together, results presented here demonstrate that 9-LOX contribute to host susceptibility as well as defense against different biotic stressors.
- Studies on Plant-aphid Interactions: a Novel Role for Trehalose Metabolism in Arabidopsis Defense Against Green Peach Aphid
- Myzus persicae (Sülzer), commonly known as the green peach aphid (GPA), is a polyphagous insect that can infest over 100 families of economically important plants and is major pest for vegetable crops. This study utilizes the Arabidopsis-GPA model system with the aim to elucidate the role of the plant disaccharide trehalose in providing defense against GPA. This study demonstrates a novel role for TPS11 in providing defense against GPA. TPS11 expression was found to be transiently induced in Arabidopsis plants in response to GPA infestation and the TPS11 gene was required for curtailing GPA infestation. TPS11, which encodes for trehalose phosphate synthase and phosphatase activities, contributes to the transient increase in trehalose in the GPA infested tissues. This work suggests that TPS11-dependent trehalose has a signaling function in plant defense against GPA. in addition, trehalose also has a more direct role in curtailing GPA infestation on Arabidopsis. This work also shows that TPS11 is able to modulate both carbohydrate metabolism and plant defenses in response to GPA infestation. the expression of PAD4, an Arabidopsis gene required for phloem-based defenses against GPA, was found to be delayed in GPA infested tps11 mutant plants along with increased sucrose levels and lower starch levels as compared to the GPA infested wild type plants. This work provides clear evidence that starch metabolism in Arabidopsis is altered in response to GPA feeding and that TPS11-modulated increase in starch contributes to the curtailment of GPA infestation in Arabidopsis.
- Genetic and Environmental Factors that Mediate Survival of Prolonged Oxygen Deprivation in the Nematode Caenorhabditis Elegans
- Ischemic events of even a very short duration are not tolerated Ill in humans. The human cost of ischemia, when looked at as combined cardiovascular disease, dwarfs all other causes of death in the United States. Annually, CVD kills as many people in the US as does cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, accidents, and diabetes mellitus combined. In 2005 (the latest year for which final statistics are available), CVD was responsible for 864,480 deaths or 35.3 percent of total deaths for the year. In my study, I have used the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to determine genetic and environmental modulators of oxygen deprivation a key component of ischemia. I have found that animals with mutations in insulin like signaling pathways, neuronal function, electron transport chain components, germline function, and animals that are preconditioned by being raised on a diet of E. coli HT115 bacteria at 25°C have an enhanced ability to survive long-term (>72 hours) anoxia (<.005 kPa O2) at 20°C. The enhanced anoxia survival phenotype partially correlates with increased levels of carbohydrate stores in the nematodes. Suppression of this enhanced anoxia survival phenotype is possible by altering expression of the glycolytic enzyme glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, the FOXO transcription factor DAF-16, and 5’-AMP kinase.
- Molecular Basis of Plant Defense Against Aphids: Role of the Arabidopsis Thaliana PAD4 and MPL1 Genes
- Myzus persicae (Sülzer), commonly known as green peach aphid (GPA), utilizes its slender stylet to penetrate the plant tissues intercellularly and consume copious amounts of photoassimilates present in the phloem sap causing extensive damage to host plants. The compatible interaction between GPA and Arabidopsis thaliana enabled us to characterize plant response to aphid infestation. Upon GPA infestation, Arabidopsis PAD4 (PHYTOALEXIN DEFICIENT4) gene modulates premature leaf senescence, which is involved in the programmed degradation of cellular components and the export of nutrients out of the senescing leaf. Senescence mechanism is utilized by plants to limit aphid growth. In addition, PAD4 provides antixenosis (deters insect settling and feeding) and antibiosis (impair aphid fecundity) against GPA and adversely impact sieve element availability to GPA. Basal expression of PAD4 contributes to antibiosis, and the GPA-induced expression of PAD4 contributes to antixenosis. Mutation in the Arabidopsis stearoyl-ACP desaturase encoding SSI2 (suppressor of SALICYLIC ACID [SA] insensitivity2) gene that results in an accelerated cell death phenotype and dwarfing, also conferred heightened antibiosis to GPA. Results of this study indicate that PAD4 is required for the ssi2-mediated enhanced antibiosis to GPA. The PAD4 protein contains conserved Ser, Asp and His residues that form the catalytic triad of many α/β fold acyl hydrolases. Arabidopsis plants expressing mutant versions of PAD4 [PAD4(S118A) and PAD4(D178A)] supported higher numbers of GPA as compared to wild type (WT) plants in no-choice tests. Furthermore, Electrical Penetration Graph (EPG) studies revealed that S118 residue in PAD4 is essential to limit GPA feeding from the sieve elements. However, the ability to deter insect settling in choice tests was not impacted by the PAD4(S118A) and PAD4(D178A) mutations, thus suggesting that PAD4s involvement in deterring insect settling and in antibiosis are determined by separate regions of PAD4. The MPL1 (MYZUS PERSICAE INDUCED LIPASE1) gene is another critical component of Arabidopsis defense against GPA. Like PAD4, MPL1 expression is induced in response to GPA infestation. However, MPL1 is required only for antibiosis and is not essential for antixenosis against GPA. EPG analysis suggests that the mpl1 mutant allele does not impact aphid feeding behavior. Since, MPL1 exhibits lipase activity, and ssi2 petiole exudates contain elevated levels of antibiosis, we propose that antibiosis to GPA requires a lipid(s), or a product thereof.
- Genetic Analysis of Development and Behavior in Hypoxia and Cellular Characterization of Anoxia Induced Meiotic Prophase Arrest in Caenorhabditis Elegans
- It was hypothesized that chronic hypoxia will affect various biological processes including developmental trajectory and behavior. To test this hypothesis, embryos were raised to adulthood in severe hypoxic environments (0.5% O2 or 1% O2, 22°C) and analyzed for survival rate, developmental progression, and altered behaviors. Wildtype hermaphrodites survive chronic hypoxia yet developmental trajectory is slowed. The hermaphrodites raised in chronic hypoxia had different phenotypes in comparison to the normoxic controls. First, hermaphrodites exposed to chronic hypoxia produced a significantly lower number of embryos and had a slight increase in male progeny. This suggests that chronic hypoxia exposure during development affects the germline. Second, animals raised in chronic hypoxia from embryos to young adults have a slight increase in lifespan when re-exposed to a normoxic environment, indicating that chronic hypoxia does not negatively decrease lifespan. Finally, hermaphrodites that were raised in hypoxia will lay the majority of their eggs on the area of the agar plate where the bacterial lawn is not present. This is in contrast to animals in normoxia, which lay the majority of their eggs on the bacterial lawn. One hypothesis for this hypoxia-induced egg-laying behavior is that the animal can sense microenvironments in hypoxia. To examine if various pathways are involved with chronic-hypoxia responses RNAi and assayed genetic mutants were used. Specifically, genetic mutations affecting oxygen sensing (egl-9), aerotaxis (npr-1), TFG-ß signaling (dbl-1, daf-7) and predicted oxygen-binding proteins (globin-like genes) were phenotypically analyzed. Results indicate that mutations in several of these genes (npr-1, dbl-1) resulted in a decrease in hypoxia survival rate. A mutation in egl-9 also had a detrimental affect on the viability of an animal raised in chronic hypoxia. However, a similar phenotype was not observed in the vhl-1 mutation indicating that the phenotype may not be due to a mere increase in HIF-1 levels, per se. A mutation in the globin-like gene (glb-13(tm2825)) suppressed the hypoxia-induced egg-laying phenotype. That is, the glb-13(tm2825) animal raised in chronic hypoxia laid eggs on the bacterial lawn at a significantly higher rate in comparison to wildtype controls, thus suggesting that globin-like molecules may be involved with the sensing of microenvironments. Together, this research lays the foundation for understanding the implications of chronic hypoxia in developing organisms.
- Photoactivatable Quantum Dots in Super-Resolution Microscopy of Muscle
- Super-resolution 3D imaging was achieved using newly synthesized photoactivatable quantum dot (PAQ dot) probes. Quantum dots were modified with a novel quencher system to make them photoactivatable. The unique properties of these PAQ dots enable single-fluorophore localization in three dimensions using a confocal microscopy optical sectioning method. Myosin and tropomyosin of rabbit myofibrilar bundles were specifically labeled with the newly synthesized PAQ dot. A sufficient number of single quantum dots were photoactivated, localized and reduced to their centroid and then reconstructed to a super-resolution image. The acquired super-resolution image shows a lateral and an axial sub-diffraction resolution and demonstrates ultrafine striations with widths less than 70 nm that are not evident by conventional confocal microscopy. The striations appear to be related to nebulin thin filament binding protein. This newly developed imaging system is cutting edge for its high resolution and localization as well its simplicity and convenience.
- Multiple Activities of Aspartate Transcarbamoylase in Burkholderia cepacia: Requirement for an Active Dihydroorotase for Assembly into the Dodecameric Holoenzyme
- The aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase) was purified from Burkholderia cepacia 25416. In the course of purification, three different ATCase activities appeared namely dodecameric 550 kDa holoenzyme, and two trimeric ATCases of 140 kDa (consists of 47 kDa PyrB subunits) and 120 kDa (consists of 40 kDa PyrB subunits) each. The 120 kDa PyrB polypeptide arose by specific cleavage of the PyrB polypeptide between Ser74 and Val75 creating an active polypeptide short by 74 amino acids. Both the 40 and 47 kDa polypeptides produced active trimers. To compare the enzyme activity of these trimers, an effector assay using nucleotides was performed. The 140 kDa trimer showed inhibition while the 120 kDa polypeptide showed less inhibition. To verify the composition of the pyrBC holoenzyme complex, B. cepacia dihydroorotase (DHOase, subunit size of 45 kDa) was purified by the pMAL protein fusion and purification system and holoenzyme reconstruction was performed using purified ATCase and DHOase. Both the 140 kDa and the 120 kDa trimers could produce holoenzymes of 550 kDa and 510 kDa, respectively. The reconstructed ATCase holoenzyme from cleaved ATCase showed better reconstruction compared to that from uncleaved ATCase in the conventional ATCase activity gel assay. To characterize the relationship between pyrimidine pathway and virulence factor production, motility tests and biofilm assays were conducted using pyrC- mutant. Even though no significant difference in growth rates was observed, there were significant differences between the wild type and mutant in the production of biofilm and virulence factors. This study will help us to understand the structure and regulation of ATCase holoenzyme with DHOase, and facilitate the use of B. cepacia as an applicable bio-tool. Additionally, we can potentially pursue more efficient drug targets for B. cepacia.
- Purification of Cyanide-Degrading Nitrilase from Pseudomonas Fluorescens NCIMB 11764.
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Cyanide is a well known toxicant that arises in the environment from both biological and industrial sources. Bacteria have evolved novel coping mechanisms for cyanide and function as principal agents in the biosphere for cyanide recycling. Some bacteria exhibit the unusual ability of growing on cyanide as the sole nitrogen source. One such organism is Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764 (Pf11764) which employs a novel oxidative mechanism for detoxifying and assimilating cyanide. A unique complex of enzymes referred to as cyanide oxygenase (CNO) is responsible for this ability converting cyanide to ammonia which is then assimilated. Because one component of the four member CNO complex was previously shown to act on cyanide independent of the other members, its characterization was sought as a means of gaining a better understanding of the overall catalytic mechanism of the complex. Preliminary studies suggested that the enzyme belonged to a subset of nitrilase enzymes known as cyanide dihydratases (CynD), however, a cynD-like gene in Pf11764 could not be detected by PCR. Instead, a separate nitrilase (Nit) linked to cyanide metabolism was detected. The corresponding nit gene was shown to be one of a conserved set of nit genes traced to a unique cluster in bacteria known as Nit1C. To determine whether the previously described CynD enzyme was instead Nit, efforts were undertaken to isolate the enzyme. This was pursued by cloning and expressing the recombinant enzyme and by attempting to isolate the native enzyme. This thesis is concerned with the latter activity and describes the purification of a Nit-like cyanide-degrading nitrilase (NitCC) from Pf11764 to ~95% homogeneity. Purification was greatly facilitated by the discovery that fumaronitrile, as opposed to cyanide, was the preferred substrate for the enzyme (20 versus 1 U/mg protein, respectively). While cyanide was less effective as a substrate, the specificity for cyanide far outweighed that (10,000 fold) of the recombinant enzyme (NitPG) implying that the native NitCC protein purified in this work is different from that of the cloned recombinant. Further evidence of this was provided by molecular studies indicating that the two proteins differ in mass (34.5 and 38 kDa, respectively) and amino acid sequence. In summary, two different Nit enzymes are encoded by Pf11764. While the two share greater than 50% amino acid sequence identity, the results suggest that the native NitCC enzyme purified in this work functions better as a cyanide-degrading nitrilase and is one of four enzyme components comprising CNO required for Pf11764 cyanide assimilation.
- DNA Degradation as an Indicator of Post-Mortem Interval
- The question of post-mortem interval (PMI) or time since death is often the most sought after piece of information associated with a medical death investigation. Based on the observation that DNA degradation disproportionately affects the analysis of larger genetic loci, it was proposed that DNA degradation, as a result of autolysis or putrefaction, could prove suitable as a potential rate-of-change indicator of PMI. Nine randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis primers and three sets of directed amplification primers were evaluated to determine their suitability for use in assessing the degree of DNA fragmentation in tissue samples. They were assessed for amplicon specificity, total DNA target sensitivity, allele monomorphism and the observance of degradation-based profile changes. Markers meeting the requisite criteria were then used to assess a range samples degraded under controlled and uncontrolled conditions. Tissue samples collected from seven domestic pigs (Sus scrofa) were incubated under controlled laboratory or uncontrolled field conditions to produce samples simulating those potentially collected in a forensic case. DNA samples isolated from these specimens were then analyzed at those loci which had been determined to meet the requisite criteria. Collectively, data generated from these analyses indicate that genetic profiles generated by this approach can provide information useful for estimating the post-mortem interval, with the locus and amplicons used being most useful during the first 72 hours after death.
- Virulence Factor Production in PyrE Mutants of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
- It has been shown previously in our lab that mutations in the pyrimidine pathway reduced the ability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to produce virulence factors. Knockout mutations in pyrB, pyrC and pyrD genes of the pyrimidine pathway showed that virulence factor production was decreased. Pyoverdin, pyocyanin, hemolysin, iron chelation, motility, and adherence are all considered virulence factors. Here I further investigate the effects of mutations in the pyrimidine pathway by studying a pyrE mutant. I studied the effect of the pyrE mutation on the production of the above virulence factors. Just like the effect of pyrB, pyrC and pyrD mutations,the pyrE mutation also showed that the bacteria were deficient in producing virulence factors when compared to the wild type. The broader impact of this research would be the possibility of finding drugs that could treat patients infected with P. aeruginosa and possibly extend the lives of chronically infected patients with cystic fibrosis.
- A regulatory role for N-acylethanolamine metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana seeds and seedlings.
- N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are bioactive acylamides that are present in a wide range of organisms. Because NAE levels in seeds decline during imbibition similar to ABA, a physiological role was predicted for these metabolites in Arabidopsis thaliana seed germination and seedling development. There is also a corresponding increase of AtFAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase), transcript levels and activity, which metabolizes NAE to ethanolamine and free fatty acids. Based on whole genome microarray studies it was determined that a number of up-regulated genes that were responsive to NAE were also ABA responsive. NAE induced gene expression in these ABA responsive genes without elevating endogenous levels of ABA. It was also determined that many of these NAE/ABA responsive genes were associated with an ABA induced secondary growth arrest, including ABI3. ABI3 is a transcription factor that regulates the transition from embryo to seedling growth, the analysis of transcript levels in NAE treated seedlings revealed a dose dependent, inverse relationship between ABI3 transcript levels and growth, high ABI3 transcript levels were associated with growth inhibition. Similar to ABA, NAE negatively regulated seedling growth within a narrow window of early seedling establishment. When seedlings are exposed to NAE or ABA within the window of sensitivity, the induction of genes normally associated with the ungerminated desiccation tolerant state resumed. The NAE tolerant FAAH overexpressor and the NAE sensitive FAAH knockout both had a NAE/ABA sensitive window similar to the wild type A. thaliana. The abi3-1 ABA insensitive mutant does not undergo growth arrest upon exposure to ABA, but NAE did induce growth arrest when treated within the sensitivity window. This evidence showed that although NAE functions within an ABA dependent pathway, it also functions in an ABA independent signaling pathway. The FAAH overexpressor is tolerant to NAE through its ability to quickly metabolize NAE from the growth media, yet it is hypersensitive to ABA. The FAAH overexpressor also displayed hypersensitivity to GA, which improved its delayed germination in non-stratified seed, while the FAAH knock out showed GA insensitivity. Overall, these results showed that NAE functions as a negative regulator of germinating seed and seedling growth in ABA dependent and independent signaling pathways, and that altered NAE metabolism may interfere with ABA/GA perception in germinating seed.
- Linkage of a nitrilase-containing Nit1C gene cluster to cyanide utilization in Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764.
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Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764 (Pf11764) is uniquely able to grow on the poison cyanide as its sole nitrogen source. It does so by converting cyanide oxidatively to carbon dioxide and ammonia, the latter being assimilated into cellular molecules. This requires a complex enzymatic machinery that includes nitrilase and oxygenase enzymes the nature of which are not well understood. In the course of a proteomics analysis aimed at achieving a better understanding of the proteins that may be required for cyanide degradation by Pf11764, an unknown protein of 17.8 kDa was detected in cells exposed to cyanide. Analysis of this protein by ESI-coupled mass spectrometry and bioinformatics searches gave evidence of strong homology with a protein (Hyp1) of unknown function (hypothetical) present in the bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens subsp. laumondii TTO1 (locus plu_1232). A search of available microbial genomes revealed a number of Hyp1 orthologs the genes of which are found in a conserved gene cluster known as Nit1C. Independent studies revealed that in addition to Hyp1, Pf11764 possesses a gene (nit) specifying a nitrilase enzyme whose closest homologue is a nitrilase found in Nit1C gene clusters (77% amino acid identity). DNA sequence analysis has further revealed that indeed, hyp1Pf11764 and nitPf11764 are contained in a cluster that includes also a gene specifying an oxygenase. Given the possible connection of Nit1C-endoded nitrilase and oxygenase enzymes to enzymatic cyanide degradation, there is strong reason for thinking that the genes specifying these enzymes contribute to bacterial growth on cyanide in those bacteria containing the Nit1C cluster. Because the biological function of the Hyp1 protein is currently unknown, it was cloned and the protein expressed in E. coli so that its properties could further be explored. Unfortunately, the expression of the protein in an insoluble form complicated these analyses. However, at least two lines of evidence suggest a possible role as a regulator of gene expression. First, over-expression of the protein was accompanied by the parallel elevation of the putative vector-encoded b-lactamase, implying that Hyp1Pf11764 can affect the expression of other genes. Second, a comparison of the amino acid sequence of select peptide fragments of Hyp1Pf11764, by conducting searches for homology with proteins in the existing nonredundant protein database, consistently revealed motifs in common with those present in bacterial response regulators that are part of two-component signal transduction systems widely distributed in bacteria.
- Development of a Real-time Pcr Assay for the Detection of Campylobacter Jejuni and Campylobacter Coli.
- Campylobacter organisms are the most commonly reported bacterial causes of foodborne infection in the world, with Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli responsible for over 99% of reported infections. Traditionally, Campylobacter species detection is an arduous process, requiring a special incubation environment as well as specific growth media for an extended growth period. The development of a rapid and reliable diagnostic tool for the detection of Campylobacter species would be a valuable aid to the medical diagnostic decision process, especially to rule out Campylobacter infection during the enteric pre-surgical time period. Improved patient outcomes would result if this rapid assay could reduce the number of enteric surgeries. Assays performed during this dissertation project have demonstrated that both SYBR® green and hydrolysis probe assays targeting an 84 nucleotide portion of cadF, a fibronectin-binding gene of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli, were able to detect from 101 to 108 copies of organism from stool specimens, did not detect nonspecific targets, and exhibited a coefficient of variation (CV) of 1.1% or less. Analytical validation of sensitivity, specificity and precision, successfully performed in these studies, warrants additional clinical validation of these assays.
- Applications of Molecular Genetics to Human Identity.
- The primary objectives of this project were: 1. to develop improved methods for extraction of DNA from human skeletal remains, 2. to improve STR profiling success of low-copy DNA samples by employing whole genome amplification to amplify the total pool of DNA prior to STR analysis, and 3. to improve STR profiling success of damaged DNA templates by using DNA repair enzymes to reduce the number/severity of lesions that interfere with STR profiling. The data from this study support the following conclusions. Inhibitory compounds must be removed prior to enzymatic amplification; either during bone section pretreatment or by the DNA extraction method. Overall, bleach outperformed UV as a pretreatment and DNA extraction using silica outperformed microconcentration and organic extraction. DNA repair with PreCR A outperformed both whole genome amplification and repair with PreCR T6. Superior DNA extraction results were achieved using the A6 PMB columns (20 ml capacity column with 6 layers of type A glass fiber filter), and DNA repair with PreCR A led to an overall improvement in profile quality in most cases, although whole genome amplification was unsuccessful. Rapid, robust DNA isolation, successful amplification of loci from the sample-derived DNA pool, and an elimination of DNA damage and inhibitors may assist in providing sufficient genetic information from cases that might otherwise lie on the fringe of what is possible to obtain today.
- Genetic and Cellular Analysis of Anoxia-Induced Cell Cycle Arrest in Caenorhabditis elegans
- The soil-nematode Caenorhabditis elegans survives oxygen deprivation (anoxia < 0.001 kPa of O2, 0% O2) by entering into a state of suspended animation during which cell cycle progression at interphase, prophase and metaphase stage of mitosis is arrested. I conducted cell biological characterization of embryos exposed to various anoxia exposure times, to demonstrate the requirement and functional role of spindle checkpoint gene san-1 during brief anoxia exposure. I conducted a synthetic lethal screen, which has identified genetic interactions between san-1, other spindle checkpoint genes, and the kinetochore gene hcp-1. Furthermore, I investigated the genetic and cellular mechanisms involved in anoxia-induced prophase arrest, a hallmark of which includes chromosomes docked at the nuclear membrane. First, I conducted in vivo analysis of embryos carried inside the uterus of an adult and exposed to anoxic conditions. These studies demonstrated that anoxia exposure prevents nuclear envelope breakdown (NEBD) in prophase blastomeres. Second, I exposed C. elegans embryos to other conditions of mitotic stress such as microtubule depolymerizing agent nocodazole and mitochondrial inhibitor sodium azide. Results demonstrate that NEBD and chromosome docking are independent of microtubule function. Additionally, unlike anoxia, exposure to sodium azide causes chromosome docking in prophase blastomeres but severely affects embryonic viability. Finally, to identify the genetic mechanism(s) of anoxia-induced prophase arrest, I conducted extensive RNA interference (RNAi) screen of a subset of kinetochore and inner nuclear membrane genes. RNAi analysis has identified the novel role of 2 nucleoporins in anoxia-induced prophase arrest.
- Expression analysis of the fatty acid desaturase 2-4 and 2-3 genes from Gossypium hirsutum in transformed yeast cells and transgenic Arabidopsis plants.
- Fatty acid desaturase 2 (FAD2) enzymes are phosphatidylcholine desaturases occurring as integral membrane proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane and convert monounsaturated oleic acid into polyunsaturated linoleic acid. The major objective of this research was to study the expression and function of two cotton FAD2 genes (the FAD2-3 and FAD2-4 genes) and their possible role in plant sensitivity to environmental stress, since plants may increase the polyunsaturated phospholipids in membranes under environmental stress events, such as low temperature and osmotic stress. Two FAD2 cDNA clones corresponding to the two FAD2 genes have been isolated from a cotton cDNA library, indicating both genes are truly expressed in cotton. Model yeast cells transformed with two cotton FAD2 genes were used to study the chilling sensitivity, ethanol tolerance, and growth rate of yeast cells. The expression patterns of the two FAD2 genes were analyzed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR) and Western blot analyses in cotton plants under different treatment conditions. The coding regions of both FAD2 genes were inserted downstream from the CaMV 35S promoter in the pMDC gateway binary vector system. Five different FAD2/pMDC constructs were transformed into the Arabidopsis fad2 knockout mutant background, and multiple potential transgenic Arabidopsis plant lines harboring the cotton FAD2 genes were generated. The cotton FAD2 genes were amplified by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from the genomic DNAs isolated from the transgenic Arabidopsis T1 plant lines. Complementation of the putative transgenic Arabidopsis plants with the two cotton FAD2 genes was demonstrated by gas chromatography analyses of the fatty acid profiles of leaf tissues. The cellular localization of cotton FAD2-4 polypeptides with N-terminal green fluorescence protein (GFP) was visualized by confocal fluorescence microscopy. The phenotype of transgenic Arabidopsis plants transformed with the cotton FAD2-4 gene was compared to Arabidopsis knockout fad2 mutant plants and wild type Arabidopsis plants regarding their sensitivity to low temperature, and the size and height of the plants.
- Characterization of Infection Arrest Mutants of Medicago Truncatula and Genetic Mapping of Their Respective Genes.
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In response to compatible rhizobia, leguminous plants develop unique plant organs, root nodules, in which rhizobia fix nitrogen into ammonia. During nodule invasion, the rhizobia gain access to newly divided cells, the nodule primordia, in the root inner cortex through plant-derived cellulose tubes called infection threads. Infection threads begin in curled root hairs and bring rhizobia into the root crossing several cell layers in the process. Ultimately the rhizobia are deposited within nodule primordium cells through a process resembling endocytosis. Plant host mechanisms underlying the formation and regulation of the invasion process are not understood. To identify and clone plant genes required for nodule invasion, recent efforts have focused on Medicago truncatula. In a collaborative effort the nodulation defect in the lin (lumpy infections) mutant was characterized. From an EMS-mutagenized population of M. truncatula, two non-allelic mutants nip (numerous infections with polyphenolics) and sli (sluggish infections) were identified with defects in nodule invasion. Infection threads were found to proliferate abnormally in the nip mutant nodules with only very rare deposition of rhizobia within plant host cells. nip nodules were found to accumulate polyphenolic compounds, indicative of a host defense response. Interestingly, nip was also found to have defective lateral root elongation suggesting that NIP has a role in both nodule and lateral root development. NIP was found to map at the upper arm of chromosome 1. In sli, infection threads were observed to bring rhizobia from infection threads to newly divided nodule primordium cells in the roots inner cortex. Polyphenolic accumulation in sli nodule/bumps was found. Lateral roots in sli were found to be clustered at the top of the root, indicating that sli like nip may be defective in lateral root development.
- Cyanide Assimilation in Pseudomonas Fluorescens: Characterization of Cyanide Oxygenase as a Pterin-Dependent Multicomponent Enzyme Complex
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Cyanide utilization in Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764 occurs via oxidative conversion to carbon dioxide and ammonia, the latter satisfying the nitrogen requirement. Substrate attack is initiated by an enzyme referred to as cyanide oxygenase (CNO), previously shown to require components in both high (H) (>30 kDa) and low (L) (<10 kDa) molecular weight cell fractions. In this study, tetrahydrobiopterin (H4biopterin) was identified as a cofactor in fraction L, thus making CNO appear as a pterin- dependent hydroxylase. CNO was purified 150-fold (specific activity 0.9 U/mg) and quantitatively converted cyanide to formate and ammonia as reaction products. When coupled with formate dehydrogenase, the complete enzymatic system for cyanide oxidation to carbon dioxide and ammonia was reconstituted. CNO was found to be an aggregate of known enzymes that included NADH oxidase (Nox), NADH peroxidase (Npx), cyanide dihydratase (CynD) and carbonic anhydrase (CA). A complex multi-step reaction mechanism is proposed in which Nox generates hydrogen peroxide which in turn is utilized by Npx to catalyze the oxygenation of cyanide to formamide accompanied by the consumption of one and two molar equivalents of oxygen and NADH, respectively. The further hydrolysis of formamide to ammonia and formate is thought to be mediated by CynD. The role of H4biopterin and of the enzyme CA in the proposed process remains unclear, but the involvement of each in reactive oxygen and radical chemistry is consistent with the proposed formation of such species in the catalytic process. H4biopterin may additionally serve as a protein stabilizing agent along with a protein co-purifying with CynD identified as elongation factor Tu, a known chaperone. At least two of the CNO components (Nox and CynD) are complex oligomeric proteins whose apparent association with Npx and CA appears to be favored in bacterial cells induced with cyanide allowing their purification in toto as a multiprotein enzyme complex.
- Influence of Cholesterol Import on Aspergillus fumigatus Growth and Antifungal Suscepibility
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Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis is a life-threatening fungal infection commonly observed in immunocompromised patients and has a mortality rate approaching 100% once the disease is disseminated. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common pathogen. Early diagnosis improves the prognosis but is very difficult since most signs and symptoms are nonspecific. Antifungal therapy, usually based on sterol biosynthesis inhibitors, is also of limited efficacy. In my attempts to discover a diagnostic sterol marker for aspergillosis, I observed that A. fumigatus incorporates large amounts of cholesterol from serum-containing medium. This observation suggested the hypothesis that exogenous cholesterol from the host can be imported by A. fumigatus and used as a substitute for ergosterol in the cell membrane. This proposed mechanism would reduce the efficacy of antifungal drugs that act as sterol biosynthesis inhibitors. Experiments to test this hypothesis were designed to determine the effects of serum-free and serum-containing medium on growth of A. fumigatus in the presence and absence of azole antifungal agents. The results showed a marked increase in growth in the presence of human serum. Cultures in media containing cholesterol but no serum also showed enhanced growth, a result indicating that a non-cholesterol component of serum is not primarily responsible for the increased growth. However, sterol analysis of A. fumigatus cultured in the absence of inhibitors showed little or no change in ergosterol levels. This result suggested that the imported cholesterol was not being used as membrane sterol. However, in parallel experiments using Itraconazole, an antifungal agent that attenuates sterol biosynthesis by inhibiting the sterol 14a-demethylase (ERG11), ergosterol levels decreased with increasing doses of inhibitor. Moreover, serum-containing medium partially rescued A. fumigatus from the effects of Itraconazole, and a similar rescue effect was observed with serum-free media containing cholesterol. From the preceding results, it can be concluded that human serum enhances A. fumigatus growth, that cholesterol import rescues Aspergillus from the effects of antifungal agents, that the potency of some azole antifungals is decreased by cholesterol, and that imported cholesterol may substitute for membrane ergosterol in the presence of sterol biosynthesis inhibitors.
- Identification and characterization of an incomplete root hair elongation (IRE)-like gene in Medicago truncatula (L.) root nodules.
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Cloning and molecular characterization of new genes constitutes a useful approach in studying the symbiotic interactions between the model plant Medicago truncatula and Synorhizobium meliloti. Large numbers of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) available for Medicago truncatula, along with numerous cDNA, oligonucleotides, and Affimetrix DNA microarray chips, represent useful tools for gene discovery. In an attempt to identify a new gene that might be involved in the process of nodulation in Medicago truncatula, preliminary data reported by Fedorova et al. (2002), who identified 340 putative gene products or tentative consensus sequences (TCs) expressed only in nodules, was used. This research was focused on TC33166 (TC103185), which has 3 ESTs in the TC, and whose strongest BLASTX hit of TC103185 is the incomplete root hair elongation (IRE) protein kinase-like protein (NP_192429) from Arabidopsis thaliana. The Arabidopsis IRE gene is required for normal root hair growth, and a role in apical growth was suggested (Oyama et al., 2002). Infection thread growth can be looked at as an inward growth of the root hair. Thus, TC103185 was a good candidate for identifying a gene that may be involved in early events of nodulation. MtIRE (GenBank accession AC122727) is organized in 17 exons and 16 introns, similarly to the Arabidopsis IRE gene. MtIRE is a new member of the IRE family and it is a putative Ser/Thr protein kinase. MtIRE is a nodule- and flower-specific gene, suggesting that nodulation may have recruited it from other developmental processes. MtIRE is likely to be involved in the invasion process, or in the maturation of the symbiosome, or of the cells that contain rhizobia, rather than infection thread initiation and elongation or in nitrogen fixation. Nodule invasion precedes the onset of MtIRE expression and the expression pattern changes in time within the nodule. RNA interference results support MtIRE expression data and suggest a possible role in preventing extensive defense responses. Our study demonstrates the existence of an Arabidopsis IRE homolog in Medicago truncatula root nodules with an entirely new function and regulation.
- Regulation of pyrimidine biosynthesis and virulence factor production in wild type, Pyr- and Crc- mutants in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
- Previous research in our laboratory established that pyrB, pyrC or pyrD knock-out mutants in Pseudomonas aeruginosa required pyrimidines for growth. Each mutant was also discovered to be defective in the production of virulence factors. Moreover, the addition of exogenous uracil did not restore the mutant to wild type virulence levels. In an earlier study using non-pathogenic P. putida, mutants blocked in one of the first three enzymes of the pyrimidine pathway produced no pyoverdine pigment while mutants blocked in the fourth, fifth or sixth steps produced copious quantities of pigment, just like wild type P. putida. The present study explored the correlation between pyrimidine auxotrophy and pigment production in P. aeruginosa. Since the pigment pyoverdine is a siderophore it may also be considered a virulence factor. Other virulence factors tested included casein protease, elastase, hemolysin, swimming, swarming and twitching motilities, and iron binding capacity. In all cases, these virulence factors were significantly decreased in the pyrB, pyrC or pyrD mutants and even in the presence of uracil did not attain wild type levels. In order to complete this comprehensive study, pyrimidine mutants blocked in the fifth (pyrE) and sixth (pyrF) steps of the biosynthetic pathway were examined in P. aeruginosa. A third mutant, crc, was also studied because of its location within 80 base pairs of the pyrE gene on the P. aeruginosa chromosome and because of its importance for carbon source utilization. Production of the virulence factors listed above showed a significant decrease in the three mutant strains used in this study when compared with the wild type. This finding may be exploited for novel chemotherapy strategies for ameliorating P. aeruginosa infections in cystic fibrosis patients.
- Physical Map between Marker 8O7 and 146O17 on the Medicago truncatula Linkage Group 1 that Contains the NIP Gene
- The Medicago truncatula NIP gene is located on M. truncatula Linkage Group 1. Informative recombinants showed crossovers that localize the NIP gene between markers 146O17 and 23C16D. Marker 164N9 co-segregates with the NIP gene, and the location of marker 164N9 is between markers 146O17 and 23C16D. Based upon data from the Medicago genome sequencing project, a subset of the model legume Medicago truncatula bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) were used to create a physical map on the DNA in this genetic internal. BACs near the potential NIP gene location near marker 164N9 were identified, and used in experiments to predict the physical map by a BAC-by-BAC strategy. Using marker 164N9 as a center point, and chromosome walking outward, the physical map toward markers 146O17 and 23C16D was built. The chromosome walk consisted of a virtual walk, made with existing sequence of BACs from the Medicago genome project, hybridizations to filters containing BAC DNA, and PCR reactions to confirm that predicted overlapping BACs contained DNA that yielded similar PCR products. In addition, the primers which are made for physical mapping via PCR could be good genetic markers helpful in discovering the location of the NIP gene. As a result of efforts repotted here, gap in physical map between marker 164N9 and 146O17 was closed.
- Isolation and Characterization of Polymorphic Loci from the Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber): New Tools for Wildlife Management
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Methods to determine genetic diversity and relatedness within populations are essential tools for proper wildlife management. Today the approach of choice is polymerase chain reaction-based microsatellite analysis. Seven new polymorphic loci were isolated from a microsatellite-enriched Caribbean flamingo genomic library and used to characterize survey populations of Caribbean and African greater flamingos. In addition, four of these loci were used to verify parentage relationships within a captive-breeding population of African greater flamingos. Parentage predictions based upon gamekeeper observations of breeding and nesting did not always agree with genetic-based parentage analyses of the nine suggested family groups. Four family groups were supported (groups I, II, III and VI) by there results. However, an analysis of the remaining five suggested groups, with a total of eight offspring/dam and eight offspring/sire suggested relationships, yielded seven exclusions of the suggested dam and six exclusions of the suggested sire. This put the overall suggested dam exclusion rate at 35% and exclusion rate for suggested sires at 29%. Although the keeper observation data for our family groups must be considered a variable of concern at this time, these findings are certainly suggestive that more carefully controlled studies may reveal that flamingos are not monogamous as long accepted, but rather socially monogamous or even promiscuous. Thus we have now been able to both characterize and demonstrate the utility of our polymorphic microsatellite loci. We hope these results will interest additional wildlife facilities in further parentage and behavioral studies that will collectively aid to improve monitoring and maintenance of genetic diversity, and as provide better insight into breeding habits of both wild and captive populations.
- Impaired virulence factor production in a dihydroorotate dehydrogenase mutant (pyrD) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
- Previous research in our laboratory showed that when knockout mutations were created in the pyrB and pyrC genes of the pyrimidine pathway in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, not only were the resultant mutants auxotrophic for pyrimidines but they were also impaired in virulence factor production. Such a correlation had not been previously reported for P. aeruginosa, a ubiquitous opportunistic pathogen in humans. In an earlier study it was reported that mutants blocked in one of the first three enzymes of the pyrimidine pathway in the non-pathogenic strain P. putida M produced no pyoverdin pigment while mutants blocked in the later steps produced copious amounts of pigment, just like the wild type. This study probed for the same connection between pyrimidine auxotrophy and pigment production applied in P. aeruginosa. To that end a knockout mutation was created in pyrD, the fourth step in the pyrimidine pathway which encodes dihydroorotate dehydrogenase. The resulting mutant required pyrimidines for growth but produced wild type pigment levels. Since the pigment pyoverdin is a siderophore it may also be considered a virulence factor, other virulence factors were quantified in the mutant. These included casein protease, hemolysin, elastase, swimming, swarming and twitching motility, and iron binding capacity. In all cases these virulence factors were significantly decreased in the mutant. Even supplementing with uracil did not attain wild type levels. Starvation of the pyrimidine mutant for uracil caused increased specific activity of the pyrimidine enzymes, suggesting that regulation of the pyrimidine pathway occurred at the level of transcription. This effect has also been reported for P. oleovorans. The present research consolidates the idea that pyrimidine auxotrophs cause decreased pathogenicity in P. aeruginosa. Such a finding may open the search for chemotherapy targets in cystic fibrosis and burn victims where P. aeruginosa is an infecting agent.
- Microsatellite-based genetic profiling for the management of wild and captive flamingo populations.
- Flamingo species generate tremendous interest whether they are small captive groups or wild populations numbering in the thousands. Genetic pedigrees are invaluable for maintaining maximum genetic diversity in captive, as well as wild, populations. However, presently there is a general lack of genetic data for flamingo populations. Microsatellites are loci composed of 2-6 base pair tandem repeats, scattered throughout higher eukaryotic genomes, often exhibiting high levels of polymorphism and heterozygosity. These loci are thus important genetic markers for identity, parentage and population studies. Here, six microsatellite loci were isolated from a microsatellite-enriched Caribbean flamingo partial genomic library. Two are compound complex repeats and four are perfect trinucleotide repeats. Each locus was amplified from Caribbean, African greater, Chilean and lesser flamingo genomic DNAs. Heterozygosity frequencies were calculated for Caribbean (range 0.12-0.90) and African greater flamingos (range 0.23-0.94) loci. All six microsatellite loci were found to be in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and linkage disequilibrium analyses did not suggest linkage for any pair of two greater flamingo subspecies (African and Caribbean) loci. At least five of the loci also exhibit polymorphism in Chilean and lesser flamingos, but due to small sample numbers, relevant allele/heterozygosity frequency calculations could not be estimated. Nucleotide sequence comparisons of the amplicons derived from the four flamingo groups reveal a high level of sequence conservation at all loci. Although small sample numbers again limit the data for lesser flamingos and to some degree for the Chilean birds, the sequences of the two greater flamingo subspecies were identical and the number of nonconserved nucleotides appears to be higher for lesser/greater comparisons than for Chilean/greater comparisons. This is consistent with Chilean flamingos being a different species within the same genus as the greater flamingos, while lesser flamingos belong to a separate genus. Parentage analyses on suggested African greater flamingo family groups from Disney's Animal Kingdom's collection were performed using microsatellite data. Results confirmed many suggested family groups but in other cases one or more of the suggested parents were clearly excluded. The six microsatellite loci isolated provide a new population management tool useful for both wild and captive flamingo populations.
- Callus Development and Organogenesis in Cultured Explants of Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp
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Cowpea, Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp is an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals and a major food crop many parts of Africa. Optimal production levels are hampered by insect pests and diseases. Biotechnological techniques such as tissue culture and genetic engineering can aid in the development of varieties with resistance to insect pests and diseases. The objective of this study was to investigate conditions necessary for the development of a reproducible tissue culture system that can be applied to regenerate transformed cells from culture. The in vitro manipulation of cowpea using Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium, auxins and cytokinins resulted in the formation of callus and rhizogenesis. Calli that were formed were separated into six classes based on color and texture. Yellowish friable callus, yellowish compact, soft yellowish callus and green and white were composed of largely vacuolated cells and were non-regenerative. Friable green callus was the most prevalent callus type and could form of roots in some hormone combinations. Green spots were formed on hard compact green callus. The green spots became nodular, forming root primordia and ultimately giving rise to roots. None of the six calli types gave rise to the formation of shoots. Embryogenic callus was induced from cowpea explants cultured on MS medium supplemented with dicamba and picloram. Embryogenic suspension cultures were initiated from callus induced on MS supplemented with 3.0 mg/L dicamba or picloram and conditions for maintenance of embryogenic suspension cultures were evaluated. Somatic embryos were formed in suspension cultures. Attempts to convert and germinate the somatic embryos resulted in the formation of callus or formation of appendages on the somatic embryos or in the death of the embryos. The appendages formed roots on prolonged culture. Further research is needed to determine appropriate optimal conditions for embryo conversion and germination and ultimately plant recovery from culture.
- Purification and Characterization of Proteolytic Aspartate Transcarbamoylase (ATCase) from Burkholderia cepacia 25416 and Construction of a pyrB1 Knock-out Mutant
- Burkholderia cepacia is a common soil bacterium of significance in agriculture and bioremediation. B. cepacia is also an opportunistic pathogen of humans causing highly communicable pulmonary infections in cystic fibrosis and immunocompromized patients. The pyrB gene encoding ATCase was cloned and ATCase was purified by the glutathione S-transferase gene fusion system. The ATCase in B. cepacia has been previously classified as a class A enzyme by Bethell and Jones. ATCase activity gels showed that B. cepacia contained a holoenzyme pyrBC complex of 550 kDa comprised of 47 kDa pyrB and 45 kDa pyrC subunits. In the course of purifying the enzyme, trimeric subunits of 140 kDa and 120 kDa were observed as well as a unique proteolysis of the enzyme. The 47 kDa ATCase subunits were cleaved to 40 kDa proteins, which still demonstrated high activity as trimers. The proteolysis site is between Ser74 and Val75 residues. To confirm this, we converted the Ser74 residue to an Ala and to an Arg by site-directed mutagenesis. After this primary sequence changed, the proteolysis of ATCase was not observed. To further investigate the characteristics of B. cepacia pyrB gene, a pyrB knock-out (pyrB-) was constructed by in vitro mutagenesis. In the assay, the 550 kDa holoenzyme and 140 kDa and 120 kDa trimers disappeared and were replaced with a previously unseen 480 kDa holoenzyme pyrB- strain. The results suggest that B. cepacia has two genes that encode ATCase. ATC1 is constitutive and ATC2 is expressed only in the absence of ATC1 activity. To check for the virulence of these two strains, a eukaryotic model virulence test was performed using Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). The pyrB1+pyrB2+ (wild type) B cepacia killed the nematode but pyrB1-pyrB2+ B. cepacia had lost its virulence against C. elegans. This suggests that ATC1 (pyrB1) is involved in virulence in B.cepacia and ATC2 (pyrB2) is not.
- Isolation of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa Aspartate Transcarbamoylase Mutant and the Investigation of Its Growth Characteristics, Pyrimidine Biosynthetic Enzyme Activities, and Virulence Factor Production
- The pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway is an essential pathway for most organisms. Previous research on the pyrimidine pathway in Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAO1) has shown that a block in the third step of the pathway resulted in both a requirement for exogenous pyrimidines and decreased ability to produce virulence factors. In this work an organism with a mutation in the second step of the pathway, aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase), was created. Assays for pyrimidine intermediates, and virulence factors were performed. Results showed that the production of pigments, haemolysin, and rhamnolipids were significantly decreased from PAO1. Elastase and casein protease production were also moderately decreased. In the Caenorhabditis elegans infection model the nematodes fed the ATCase mutant had increased mortality, as compared to nematodes fed wild type bacteria. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that changes in the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway contribute to the organism's ability to effect pathogenicity.