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The Acute Toxic Effects of the Synthetic Cannabinoid, JWH-018 on the Cardiovascular and Neuroendocrine System in Ictalurus punctatus (Channel Catfish)

Description: Cannabinoid (CB) receptors have been found in most vertebrates that have been studied. The location of various CB receptors in the body and brain are known, but their physiological functions are not fully understood. The effects CBs have on the cardiovascular system have been of growing interest in recent years. Increasing reports from emergency departments and law enforcement agencies detail acute cardiovascular and psychological effects from synthetic CB intoxication, such as JWH-018. This major health concern is substantiated by governmental agencies like the CDC and NIDA. This pilot study investigates the acute toxic effects of the synthetic CB, JWH-018, on the cardiovascular and neuroendocrine systems in Ictalurus punctatus (channel catfish). Research in organisms besides the traditional mammal models can provide new insights into CB function and physiology. Ictalurus punctatus lend multiple benefits as a model organism that permits researchers to investigate in vivo effects of both cardiovascular and neuroendocrine systems without much influence from traditional sampling methods, and further more provide ample size and tissue to perform specific cardiovascular experiments. Multiple methods were used to assess cardiovascular function and sympathetic nervous system activation. Two different doses, low (500 µg/kg) and high 1,500 µg/kg, of JWH-018 were evaluated in the study. Delivery of JWH-018, via dorsal aorta cannulation, was administered to channel catfish in order to measure cardiovascular functions and sample blood. Plasma levels of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal/interrenal (HPA/I) biomarkers; ACTH, cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, were measured using ELISAs. Myocardial and neural tissue was collected after the exposures for rt-PCR analysis on β2 adrenergic and glucocorticoid receptor density change. Acute exposure of JWH-018 in undisturbed channel catfish yielded several findings: (1) High dose of JWH-018 was responsible for cardio depressor effects in catfish with a tendency to produce tachycardia, (2) rt-PCR results showed a 2.7 fold increase of glucocorticoid receptor mRNA density ...
Date: August 2017
Creator: Taylor, Dedric Esmond

Delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 into Blood Cells of Zebrafish: Potential for Genome Editing in Somatic Cells

Description: Factor VIII is a clotting factor found on the intrinsic side of the coagulation cascade. A mutation in the factor VIII gene causes the disease Hemophilia A, for which there is no cure. The most common treatment is administration of recombinant factor VIII. However, this can cause an immune response that renders the treatment ineffective in certain hemophilia patients. For this reason a new treatment, or cure, needs to be developed. Gene editing is one solution to correcting the factor VIII mutation. CRISPR/Cas9 mediated gene editing introduces a double stranded break in the genomic DNA. Where this break occurs repair mechanisms cause insertions and deletions, or if a template oligonucleotide can be provided point mutations could be introduced or corrected. However, to accomplish this goal for editing factor VIII mutations, a way to deliver the components of CRISPR/Cas9 into somatic cells is needed. In this study, I confirmed that the CRISPR/Cas9 system was able to create a mutation in the factor VIII gene in zebrafish. I also showed that the components of CRISPR/Cas9 could be piggybacked by vivo morpholino into a variety of blood cells. This study also confirmed that the vivo morpholino did not interfere with the gRNA binding to the DNA, or Cas9 protein inducing the double stranded break.
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Date: August 2017
Creator: Schneider, Sara Jane

Developing a Phylogeny Based Machine Learning Algorithm for Metagenomics

Description: Metagenomics is the study of the totality of the complete genetic elements discovered from a defined environment. Different from traditional microbiology study, which only analyzes a small percent of microbes that could survive in laboratory, metagenomics allows researchers to get entire genetic information from all the samples in the communities. So metagenomics enables understanding of the target environments and the hidden relationships between bacteria and diseases. In order to efficiently analyze the metagenomics data, cutting-edge technologies for analyzing the relationships among microbes and communities are required. To overcome the challenges brought by rapid growth in metagenomics datasets, advances in novel methodologies for interpreting metagenomics data are clearly needed. The first two chapters of this dissertation summarize and compare the widely-used methods in metagenomics and integrate these methods into pipelines. Properly analyzing metagenomics data requires a variety of bioinformatcis and statistical approaches to deal with different situations. The raw reads from sequencing centers need to be processed and denoised by several steps and then be further interpreted by ecological and statistical analysis. So understanding these algorithms and combining different approaches could potentially reduce the influence of noises and biases at different steps. And an efficient and accurate pipeline is important to robustly decipher the differences and functionality of bacteria in communities. Traditional statistical analysis and machine learning algorithms have their limitations on analyzing metagenomics data. Thus, rest three chapters describe a new phylogeny based machine learning and feature selection algorithm to overcome these problems. The new method outperforms traditional algorithms and can provide more robust candidate microbes for further analysis. With the frowing sample size, deep neural network could potentially describe more complicated characteristic of data and thus improve model accuracy. So a deep learning framework is designed on top of the shallow learning algorithm stated above in order to further ...
Date: August 2017
Creator: Rong, Ruichen

Evaluating the Role of UV Exposure and Recovery Regimes in PAH Photo-Induced Toxicity

Description: Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are contaminants synthesized through incomplete combustion of carbon based substances. PAHs are known to be photodynamic and toxicity increases exponentially when in contact with ultraviolet radiation (UV). The effect of UV absent recovery periods and potential for latent toxicity during photo-induced toxicity are previously unknown and are not included within the toxicity model. Results of equal interval tests further support the current reciprocity model as a good indicator of PAH photo-induced toxicity. Interval test results also indicate a possible presence of time-dependent toxicity and recovery thresholds and should be included into toxicity risk assessments. Moreover, results of latent effects assays show that latent mortality is a significant response to PAH photo-induced toxicity and should be included into toxicity risk assessments. The present research demonstrates that UV exposure time rate is a significant driving force of PAH photo-induced toxicity.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Gnau, Jennifer Leigh

Generating Molecular Biology Tools to Investigate the Ca2+ Binding Ability of Arabidopsis TON2

Description: The position of the cell division plane in plants is determined by the position of the preprophase band. The pre prophase band (PPB) is a ring of microtubules centered around the nucleus on the inner side of plasma membrane that establishes the cortical division site. The PPB forms at the end of G2 and breaks down at the end of prophase leaving behind protein markers of its position that are collectively called the cortical division site. During cytokinesis the phragmoplast expands towards the cortical division site and mediates the fusion of the new cell plate with the mother cell at that position. Several proteins necessary for PPB formation in plants have been identified, including maize DCD1 and ADD1 and Arabidopsis TON2, which are all type 2A protein phosphatase (PP2A)B" regulatory subunits. DCD1, ADD1, and TON2 localize to the PPB and the cortical division site through metaphase. The PP2A subunits each have two EF-hand domains, which are predicted to bind calcium ions. Since calcium ions are important for some aspects of cell division, we designed a series of constructs to test if TON2 binds calcium. TON2 protein was cloned into expression vectors, pET42a, and expression of TON2 protein was confirmed via Western blotting and immunodetection using a GST antibody. Site directed mutagenesis was used to mutate the TON2 EF-hand domains and mutated cDNAs were also cloned into expression vectors. These were then expressed in bacterial systems. Finally, the GST tagged proteins were purified. In the future, wild-type and mutated proteins TON2 proteins will used in calcium binding assays to determine if TON2 binds calcium.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Shao, Danyang

Investigating Human Gut Microbiome in Obesity with Machine Learning Methods

Description: Obesity is a common disease among all ages that has threatened human health and has become a global concern. Gut microbiota can affect human metabolism and thus may modulate obesity. Certain mixes of gut microbiota can protect the host to be healthy or predispose the host to obesity. Modern next-generation sequencing technique allows accessing huge amount of genetic information underlying microbiota and thus provides new insights into the functionality of these micro-organisms and their interactions with the host. Multiple previous studies have demonstrated that the microbiome might contribute to obesity by increasing dietary energy harvest, promoting fat deposition and triggering systemic inflammation. However, these researches are either based on lab cultivation studies or basic statistical analysis. In order to further explore how gut microbiota affect obesity, this thesis utilize a series of machine learning methods to analyze large amount of metagenomics data from human gut microbiome. The publicly available HMP (Human Microbiome Project) metagenomic sequencing data, contain microbiome data for healthy adults, including overweight and obese individuals, were used for this study. HMP gut data were organized based on two different feature definitions: taxonomic information and metabolic reconstruction information. Several widely used classification algorithms: namely Naive Bayes, Random Forest, SVM and elastic net logistic regression were applied to predict healthy or obese status of the subjects based on the cross-validation accuracy. Furthermore, the corresponding feature selection algorithms were used to identify signature features in each dataset that lead to the differences between healthy and obese samples. The results showed that these algorithms perform poorly on taxonomic data than metabolic pathway data though lots of selected taxa are still supported by literature. Among all the combinations between different algorithms and data, elastic net logistic regression has the best cross-validation performance and thus becomes the best model. In this model, several important ...
Date: August 2017
Creator: Zhong, Yuqing

Markov Model of Segmentation and Clustering: Applications in Deciphering Genomes and Metagenomes

Description: Rapidly accumulating genomic data as a result of high-throughput sequencing has necessitated development of efficient computational methods to decode the biological information underlying these data. DNA composition varies across structurally or functionally different regions of a genome as well as those of distinct evolutionary origins. We adapted an integrative framework that combines a top-down, recursive segmentation algorithm with a bottom-up, agglomerative clustering algorithm to decipher compositionally distinct regions in genomes. The recursive segmentation procedure entails fragmenting a genome into compositionally distinct segments within a statistical hypothesis testing framework. This is followed by an agglomerative clustering procedure to group compositionally similar segments within the same framework. One of our main objectives was to decipher distinctive evolutionary patterns in sex chromosomes via unraveling the underlying compositional heterogeneity. Application of this approach to the human X-chromosome provided novel insights into the stratification of the X chromosome as a consequence of punctuated recombination suppressions between the X and Y from the distal long arm to the distal short arm. Novel "evolutionary strata" were identified particularly in the X conserved region (XCR) that is not amenable to the X-Y comparative analysis due to massive loss of the Y gametologs following recombination cessation. Our compositional based approach could circumvent the limitations of the current methods that depend on X-Y (or Z-W for ZW sex determination system) comparisons by deciphering the stratification even if only the sequence of sex chromosome in the homogametic sex (i.e. X or Z chromosome) is available. These studies were extended to the plant sex chromosomes which are known to have a number of evolutionary strata that formed at the initial stage of their evolution, presenting an opportunity to examine the onset of stratum formation on the sex chromosomes. Further applications included detection of horizontally acquired DNAs in extremophilic eukaryote, Galdieria sulphuraria, which ...
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Date: August 2017
Creator: Pandey, Ravi Shanker

Neurological Responses to a Glucose Diet in Caenorhabditis elegans

Description: TRPV channels play a role in both mammalian insulin signaling, with TRPV1 expression in pancreatic beta-cells, and in C. elegans insulin-like signaling through expression of OSM-9, OCR-1, and OCR-2 in stress response pathways. In response to a glucose-supplemented diet, C. elegans are know to have sensitivity to anoxic stress, exhibit chemotaxis attraction, and display reduced egg-laying rate. Transcriptome analysis reveals that glucose stimulates nervous system activity with increased transcript levels of genes regulating neurotransmitters. Ciliated sensory neurons are needed for a reduced egg-laying phenotype on a glucose-supplemented diet. Egg-laying rate is not affected when worms graze on glucose-supplemented Delta-PTS OP50 E. coli, which is defective in glucose uptake. This suggests a possible sensory neuron obstruction by exopolysaccharides produced by standard OP50 E. coli on glucose, eliciting a starvation response from the worm and causing reduced egg-laying rate. Glucose chemotaxis is affected in specific TRPV subunit allele mutants: ocr-2(vs29) and osm-9(yz6), serotonin receptor mutants: ser-1(ok345) and mod-1(ok103), and G-alpha protein mutant: gpa-10(pk362). TRPV deletion mutants had no effect on glucose chemotaxis, alluding to the modality role pf TRPV alleles in specific sensory neurons. The role of serotonin in a reduced egg-laying rate with glucose remains unclear.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Dumesnil, Dennis

Reproduction and Metabolic Responses to Acute and Chronic Hypoxia in Ovoviviparous Blaberid Cockroaches, with a Focus on Blaptica dubia

Description: The major components of the tracheal system of insects are an extension of the exoskeleton, and the size of the exoskeleton is fixed in the adult stage, so any increase in metabolic demand that may accompany reproduction must be met by a relatively unaltered tracheal system that the female set in place at ecdysis, when entering adulthood. Acute hypoxia tends to elicit an increase in ventilation in insects, and here, I observe increased interburst VCO2 release, and a tendency towards a more continuous gas exchange pattern being preferred over discontinuous gas exchange when Blaptica dubia and Eublaberus posticus are exposed to a descending regime of hypoxia. Additionally, higher temperatures appear to increase sensitivity to hypoxia in these species, an expected result because both species, like most ectothermic animals, display a Q10 effect, increasing metabolic rates as temperature increases. The reproductive mode of B. dubia is considered to be lecithotrophic pseudoviviparity (or type A ovoviviparity), and by the time the embryos are born, they have more than doubles in volume from the time of oviposition. This gain is apparent in the wet mass of the embryo, with no change occurring in dry mass. The egg mass that can be attributed to water begins at 39% at oviposition and increased to nearly 82% at hatching. The metabolic rates of females and embryos increase as embryonic development progresses, but bomb calorimetry reveals that energy content of the embryos does not change. It is possible that these embryos gain some nutrition from the mother during embryonic development, but direct evidence remains to be demonstrated. Blaptica dubia and Eublaberus posticusare both blaberid species that display the same reproductive mode, pseudoviviparity, with incubation occurring in a brood sac. Comparisons between the reproductive traits of B. dubia and E. posticus reveal that the two species have similar ...
Date: August 2017
Creator: Mallery, Christopher Sean

The Role of Thyroid Hormone across Avian Development Spectrum: Investigations on Systemic Development, Metabolism and Ontogeny of Endothermy

Description: Achievement of endothernic capacity is vital for independence from ambient temperature changes, sustained activity, optimal biochemical reactions and optimization of parental care. During early avian development, the core tenets of transition from ectothermy to endothermy are development of metabolic capacity (oxygen consumption, mitochondrial bioenergetics), enhanced cardiovascular function (heart rate and cardiac output), pulmonary ventilation and thermogenic capacity. Thyroid hormones, particularly T3, are key metabolic regulators of basal metabolism, thermogenesis, pulmonary ventilation and mitochondrial respiration. Thyroid hormone fluctuation patterns during both precocial and altricial avian endothermic transition suggest a prominent role in maturation of endothermy, cardiovascular, respiratory and skeletal muscle physiology. This body of work explores effects of T3 manipulations in two avian species: the precocial Pekin duck and the altricial Red-winged Blackbird. Increased plasma T3 during late incubation resulted in increased cardiac mass, elevated resting and intrinsic heart rate, intrinsic mean arterial pressure, increased cholinergic tone and blunted alpha-adrenergic tone in the precocial Pekin duck. In both Pekin duck and Red-winged blackbird, plasma T3 levels correlated with changes in the trajectory of endothermic ontogeny, systemic oxygen consumption, thermogenesis, maturation of pulmonary ventilatory function, altered growth and effects on skeletal and cardiac mitochondrial bioenergetics. These observations support the role of thyroid hormones as metabolic and developmental regulators at the time of attainment of endothermy during the perinatal period in precocial and altricial avian species. Insights into the role of thyroid hormone as a metabolic and development regulator at the time of avian endothermic attainment provide a more thorough understanding of metabolic and physical transitions a hatchling bird must undergo to reach the adult endothermic phenotype. Such insights also deepen understanding of the complex role thyroid hormones play in homeostasis and offer implications about the evolutionary history of endothermic capacity.
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Date: August 2017
Creator: Sirsat, Tushar S

The Effectiveness of Hybrid Problem-Based Learning versus Manual-Based Learning in the Microbiology Laboratory

Description: Promising results from the use of problem-based learning (PBL) as a teaching method in medical programs have encouraged many institutions to incorporate PBL into their curricula. This study investigates how applying hybrid-PBL (H-PBL) in a microbiology laboratory impacts students' higher-order thinking as compared to applying a lecture-based pedagogy. The experimental design compared the learning outcomes of two groups of students: the control group and the H-PBL group, for whom PBL cases comprised 30% of the curriculum. Both groups were taught basic skills for the microbiology lab by the same instructor. Using the traditional teaching style for the control group, the instructor offered each student what they needed for their experiments. The H-PBL group practiced experimental design, data analysis, theory proposal, and created research questions by using six study cases that were closely linked to the area of study. The outcome was measured using a pre- and post- assessment consisting of 24 questions that was designed by following Bloom's taxonomy of learning levels. A one-way ANOVA was used to analyze the data. The results showed that for the first three levels of Bloom's taxonomy— knowledge, comprehension, and application—there were no statistically significant differences between the H-PBL and control group gain scores as determined by a one-way ANOVA. For the knowledge level, f (1, 78) = .232, and p = .632; for the comprehension level, f (1, 78) = .004, and p = .951; and for the application level f (1, 78) =. 028, and p =.863. On the other hand, the gain scores for the three higher levels—analysis, evaluation, and creativity—improved for the H-PBL group. The analysis level showed statistically significant differences, with f (1, 78) = 4.012, and p = .049. Also, there were statistically significant differences in students' performance at the evaluation level, with f (1, 78) = 11.495, ...
Date: May 2017
Creator: Alharbi, Najwa

Studies on Zebrafish Thrombocyte Function

Description: Thrombocytes are important players in hemostasis. There is still much to be explored regarding the molecular basis of the thrombocyte function. In our previous microarray analysis data, we found IFT122 (an intraflagellar transport protein known to be involved in cilia formation) transcripts in zebrafish thrombocytes. Given recent discoveries of non-ciliary roles for IFTs, we examined the possibility that IFT122 affects thrombocyte function. We studied the role of IFT122 in thrombocyte function. We also found that IFT122 plays a central role in thrombocyte activation initiated by the agonists ADP, collagen, PAR-1 peptide and epinephrine. Although the receptors for ADP, PAR-1 peptide and epinephrine are present in the zebrafish genome, the collagen receptor GPVI was missing. In this study, we identified G6fL as a collagen receptor in zebrafish thrombocytes. Furthermore, IFT knockdown results in reduction in Wnt signaling. The Wnt signaling has been shown to be involved in megakaryocyte proliferation and proplatelets production. Therefore, defects in IFT could lead to thrombocytopenia. Splenectomy is performed in humans to treat such conditions. Therefore, in this study we developed a survival surgery protocol for splenectomy. We have shown that number of thrombocytes and their microparticles increase following splenectomy in zebrafish. Thus overall the studies on thrombocyte function in zebrafish could enhance fundamental knowledge on hemostasis and may provide future target candidates for therapies.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Pulipakkam Radhakrishnan, Uvaraj

Cardiovascular Fetal Programming in Quail (Colinus virginianus), An Avian Comparative Model

Description: The consequences of early embryonic insults and how they affect subsequent life reflects the emerging concept of "fetal programming". The aim of this project is to study the effects of embryonic insults as they subsequently manifest themselves in adults, with emphasis on the heart and vasculature. My experiments establish that fetal programming operates on the bobwhite quail inducing similar changes as those observed in mammalians and other birds. The quail's fast development provides reliable data in a short period of time than other avian models (e.g. domestic chicken). Data on quail showed a correlation between egg mass and hatchling mass; where small eggs produce small hatchlings but a high mortality made it impractical as a stressor for this study. Hypoxia was used as a stressor during embryonic incubation, where it induced a low hatching weight in quail that was not observable in adult birds. Morphological measurements demonstrated an increased ventricular collagen content and reduced ventricular lumen in birds in adults incubated in hypoxia consistent with hypertension. The hematological analyzes showed few differences indicating organ remodeling instead of hematopoietic compensation. The assessment of vascular reactivity pointed out an impaired endothelium dependent relaxation commonly associated to hypertension in birds and mammals. Fetal programming could be a widespread response to an adverse prenatal environment in endotherms and the resulting data from this work contributes to our understanding of fetal programming in vertebrates and its long term consequences.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Flores Santin, Josele

Effects of Brain Brain Injury on Primary Cilia of Glial Cells and Pericytes

Description: Glial cells maintain homeostasis that is essential to neuronal function. Injury to the nervous system leads to the activation and proliferation of glial cells and pericytes, which helps to wall off the damaged region and restore homeostatic conditions. Sonic hedgehog is a mitogen which is implicated in injury-induced proliferation of glial cells and pericytes. The mitogenic effects of sonic hedgehog require primary cilia, but the few reports on glial or pericyte primary cilia do not agree about their abundance and did not address effects of injury on these cilia. Primary cilia are microtubule-based organelles that arise from the centrosome and are retracted before cells divide. Depending on cell type, proteins concentrated in cilia can transduce several mitotic, chemosensory, or mechanosensory stimuli. The present study investigated effects of stab wound injury on the incidence and length of glial and pericyte primary cilia in the area adjacent to the injury core. Astrocytes, polydendrocytes and pericytes were classified by immunohistochemistry based on cell-type markers. In normal adult mice, Arl13b immunoreactive primary cilia were present in a majority of each cell type examined: astrocytes, 98±2%; polydendrocytes, 87±6%; and pericytes, 79±13% (mean ± SEM). Three days post-injury, cilium incidence decreased by 24% in astrocytes (p< 0.008) and 41% in polydendrocytes (p< 0.002), but there was no significant effect in pericytes. Polydendrocytes labeled with the cell cycle marker Ki67 were less likely to have cilia compared to resting, Ki67- polydendrocytes. Considering post-injury rates of proliferation for astrocytes and polydendrocytes, it appears that resorption of cilia due to cell cycle entry may account for much of the loss of cilia in polydendrocytes but was not sufficient to account for the loss of cilia in astrocytes. Under normal conditions, astrocytes rarely divide, and they maintain non-overlapping territories. However, three days after injury, there was a 7-fold increase in ...
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Date: December 2016
Creator: Coronel, Marco Vinicio

Maternal Transfer of Dietary Methylmercury and Implications for Embryotoxicity in Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas)

Description: Mercury (Hg) is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant, which is capable of global atmospheric transport. As a result, even the most pristine aquatic ecosystems are affected by atmospheric Hg deposition, following which microbial transformation yield organic Hg forms, the most concerning of which is methylmercury (MeHg). Methylmercury is capable of bioaccumulation and biomagnification in food webs, resulting in potentially toxic body burdens due to regular dietary exposure in long-lived organisms at higher trophic levels. It is also a molecular mimic of some endogenous amino acids, providing a route of transfer from mother to offspring via large amino acid transporters. Exposure during neurodevelopment can lead to serious, irreversible neurological dysfunction, associated with a variety of cognitive and motor abnormalities across species. The present studies evaluate the effects of maternally-transferred dietary MeHg, at environmentally relevant concentrations on early life stage fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas). Embryos were collected from adult fatheads exposed to one of three diets with varying concentrations of MeHg for 30 days. Adult reproductive metrics were also monitored over the course of the study, with results indicating no effects on spawning frequency, clutch size, or total egg output. In embryos, Hg concentration was a function of female diet and the duration (number of days) of female exposure. Offspring spawned in tanks administered the low Hg diet displayed altered embryonic movement patterns (hyperactivity), decreased time to hatch, decreased mean larval size, and alterations to several metabolite abundances when compared with controls. Significantly altered metabolites include those associated with cellular energetics, fatty acid metabolism, and polyamine synthesis, indicating current environmental exposure scenarios are sufficient to disrupt important cellular pathways. Dysregulation of the dopaminergic system of embryos is also characterized, and may be a possible mechanism by which hyperactive behaviors are observed in these embryos. Offspring from tanks administered the high Hg diet exhibited ...
Date: December 2016
Creator: Bridges, Kristin

Glucose and Altered Ceramide Biosynthesis Impact the Transcriptome and the Lipidome of Caenorhabditis elegans

Description: The worldwide rise of diabetes and obesity has spurred research investigating the molecular mechanisms that mediate the deleterious effects associated with these diseases. Individuals with diabetes and/or obesity are at increased risk from a variety of health consequences, including heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease; all of these complications have oxygen deprivation as the central component of their pathology. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been established as a model system for understanding the genetic and molecular regulation of oxygen deprivation response, and in recent years methods have been developed to study the effects of excess glucose and altered lipid homeostasis. Using C. elegans, I investigated transcriptomic profiles of wild-type and hyl-2(tm2031) ( a ceramide biosynthesis mutant) animals fed a standard or a glucose supplemented diet. I then completed a pilot RNAi screen of differentially regulated genes and found that genes involved in the endobiotic detoxification pathway (ugt-63 and cyp-25A1) modulate anoxia response. I then used a lipidomic approach to determine whether glucose feeding or mutations in the ceramide biosynthesis pathway or the insulin-like signaling pathway impact lipid profiles. I found that gluocose alters the lipid profile of daf-2(e1370) (an insulin-like receptor mutant) animals. These studies indicate that a transcriptomic approach can be used to discover novel pathways involved in oxygen deprivation response and further validate C. elegans as a model for understanding diabetes and obesity.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Ladage, Mary Lee

Maturation of Endothermic Capacity within the Avian Developmental Spectrum: A Characterization of Thermoregulatory Metamorphosis

Description: An avian embryo is ectothermic, with body temperature determined by environmental temperature. Upon hatching, the neonate begins a conversion so that endothermic capacity becomes feasible and body temperature becomes independent of environment. Whole animal metabolic rate and ventilation response, cardiovascular development, and maturation of muscle mitochondrial flux were the focus of this dissertation because of the direct role in shivering thermogenesis. Precocial ducks and altricial Double-crested Cormorants exhibit increasing hematocrit and disproportionate increases in fractional heart mass resulting in greater oxygen delivery capacity and increased capacity of muscles to utilize oxygen compared with ectothermic American Alligator and Common Snapping turtles. By selecting for faster growth and higher meat yield in the domestic chicken, differences in whole-animal, tissue, cellular, and regulatory responses are evident between broiler and layer type birds. In the altricial red-winged blackbird, despite appearance of a whole animal endothermic response sometime after 7 dph, capacity of skeletal muscles involved in shivering thermogenesis peaks prior to that time. Thus, full development of endothermy is delayed in this species, allowing the altricial nestling to allocate energy towards growth rather than metabolic maintenance. Hypothyroidism in neonate red-winged blackbirds results in delayed maturation of the cardiovascular system and mitochondrial oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle. Such deficiencies were quickly recovered once the animals returned to a normothyroid state, apparently at the cost of increasing body mass. Insights into onset of thermoregulation provide a more thorough understanding of metabolic and physical transitions a hatchling bird must undergo to reach the adult endothermic phenotype. Endothermic capacity will continue to be at the forefront of physiological research because of the significance of changes between the energetic relations of an animal that must occur with its environment.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Sirsat, Sarah Goy

Respiratory Responses in the Freshwater Snail (Pomacea Bridgesii) are Differently Affected by Temperature , Body Mass,and Oxygen Avalability

Description: Pomacea bridgesii is a snail species native to tropical and sub-tropical regions, where it usually faces variability in water, temperature and oxygen level. This study of the effect of temperature on mass-specific oxygen consumption (ṀO2) and its relation to body weight shows that the ṀO2 of juvenile snails in normoxia (18-21 kPa) acclimated at temperature of 25°C ranged from 5 to 58 µMol O2/g/h, with a mean of 41.4 ± 18.3 µMol O2/g/h (n=7). Adult snails in normoxia at 25°C show less variation, ranging from 13 to 23 µMol O2/g/h , with a mean of 24.4± 6.1 µMol O2/g/h (n=12). The Q10 value for juvenile snails was higher in the interval 25-30°C (Q 10=5.74) than in the interval 20-25°C (Q10= 0.286). In adult snails, Q10 was higher in the interval 20-25°C (Q10=3.19). ṀO2 of P. bridgesii in relation to body weight showed a negative linear correlation between metabolic rate and body weight with b values between 0.23 and 0.76. Also, both juvenile and adult snails exhibited weak O2 regulation. In general, the different respiratory characteristics between juvenile and adult snails might be related to the differences of individual life history, which caused them to perform differently in face of temperatures change. Additionally, Pomacean snails species originated in tropical habitats where there is a lack of thermal fluctuation. For this reason, Pomacean snails may be less likely to have evolved effective thermal acclimation capabilities.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Frifer, Wenasa Salem

Characterizing the Molecular Changes of Austrofundulus limnaeus As It Develops Towards and Enters Diapause II

Description: Austrofundulus limnaeus is a species of annual killifish which inhabits ephemeral ponds in South America. The species is able to survive seasonally desiccating ponds due to their ability to produce robust embryos. The embryos of this species are capable of entering a developmental arrest, termed diapause II, which precedes the onset of drought. While in this arrested state embryos exhibit the greatest tolerance to anoxia of any characterized vertebrate at 25ºC. Furthermore, when raised at 30ºC, embryos escape the entrance to diapause II and go on to develop directly. Currently, little is known about the molecular mechanisms which induce and maintain this developmentally arrested state. In this study I have developed methods to analyze changes in histone modifications in the context of diapause II. Histone modifications were chosen due to their extreme conservation and well characterized role as modulators of gene expression in other systems. Results utilizing adapted immunobased assays show significant changes in the global amount of H3S10P, H3K27me and H3K4me, as the embryos progress from early embryogenesis through the exit of diapause. Additionally, it is revealed that there exists a degree of phenotypic plasticity with regards to the entrance into diapause II which is modulated by the environment (severe hypoxia 0.1% O2). This work builds a foundation for future histone modification studies and contributes the development of several tools to the field. This study contributes to a greater molecular understanding of the cue(s) which influence the remarkable phenomenon of obligate developmental arrest in a vertebrate embryo.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Toni, Lee S.

The Effect of Post-exercise Ethanol Consumption on the Acute Hormonal Response to Heavy Resistance Exercise in Women

Description: The purpose of this study was to examine the hormonal response to acute ethanol ingestion following a bout of heavy resistance exercise in women. Eight resistance trained women completed two identical acute heavy resistance exercise tasks (AHRET). From 10-20 minutes post-AHRET, participants consumed either a grain ethanol or a placebo beverage. Blood was collected before (PRE) and immediately after the AHRET (IP) and then every 20 minutes for five hours. Blood collected after beverage ingestion was pooled into 3 batches (phases: 20-40 minutes, 60-120 minutes, and 140-300 minutes post-exercise) and analyzed for serum total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (FT), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), human growth hormone (GH), cortisol (COR), and estradiol (E2) concentrations. Circulating concentrations of TT were significantly greater at P20-40 than at PRE, P60-120, and P140-300. Circulating concentrations of FT were significantly greater at P20-40 than at all other times. Circulating concentrations of GH were significantly greater at IP than at PRE, P60-120, and P140-300. Circulating concentrations of COR were significantly greater at P20-40 than at all other times. Additionally, COR concentrations at P140-300 were significantly lower than at all other times. Circulating concentrations of IGF-1 were significantly greater at P20-40 than at P60-120 and P140-300. Circulating concentrations of E2 were significantly greater at P20-40 than at all other times. In summary, the present study demonstrated an acute modulation of the neuroendocrine milieu following a heavy resistance exercise bout in women. Ethanol ingestion appeared to have no significant effect on the characteristics of acute hormonal augmentation in TT, FT, GH, COR, IGF-1, or E2.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Budnar, Jr., Ronald G.

Environmental Modulation of the Onset of Air-breathing of the Siamese Fighting Fish and the Blue Gourami

Description: This study determined the effect of hypoxia on air-breathing onset and physiological and morphological characters in larvae of the air breathing fishes Trichopodus trichopterus and Betta splendens. Larvae were exposed intermittently (12/12 h daily) to 20, 17, and 14 kPa of PO2 from 1 to 40 days post-fertilization. Survival, onset of air breathing, wet body mass, O2, Pcrit were measured every 5 dpf. Hypoxia advanced by 4 days, and delayed by 9 days, the onset of air breathing in Betta and Trichopodus, respectively. Hypoxia increased larval body length, wet mass, and labyrinth organ respiratory surface of Betta, but did not affect these factors in Trichopodus. Hypoxic exposure increased O2 by 50-100% at each day throughout larval development in Betta, but had no effect on larval Trichopodus. Hypoxia decreased Pcrit in Betta by 37%, but increased Pcrit in Trichopodus by 70%. Larval Betta reared in hypoxia showed a modified heart rate:opercular rate ratio (3:1 to 2:1), but these changes did not occur in Trichopodus. Compared to Betta, the blood of Trichopodus had a higher P50 and much smaller Bohr and Root effects. These interspecific differences are likely due to ecophysiological differences: Betta is a non- obligatory air-breather after 36 dpf with a slow lifestyle reflected in its low metabolism, while Trichopodus is an obligatory air-breather past 32 dpf with an athletic fast lifestyle and accompanying high metabolism.
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Date: December 2015
Creator: Mendez Sanchez, Jose Fernando

A High-fat Meal Alters Post-prandial mRNA Expression of SIRT1, SIRT4, and SIRT6

Description: Sirtuins (SIRT) regulate the transcription of various genes involved in the development of diet-induced obesity and chronic disease; however, it is unknown how they change acutely following a high-fat meal. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a high-fat meal (65% kcals/d; 85% fat recommendation), on SIRT1-7 mRNA expression in blood leukocytes at 1, 3, and 5-h post-prandial. Men and women (N=24) reported to the lab following an overnight fast (>12H). Total RNA was isolated and reverse transcribed prior to using a Taqman qPCR technique with 18S rRNA as a normalizer to determine SIRT1-7 mRNA expression. An additional aliquot of serum was used to measure triglycerides. Data was analyzed using a RM ANOVA with P<0.05. Triglycerides (P<0.001; 124%) peaked at 3-h. SIRT 1 (P=0.004; 70%), and SIRT 6 (P=0.017; 53%) decreased expression at 3-h. SIRT4 (P=0.024) peaked at 5H relative to baseline (70%) and 3-h (68%). To our knowledge, this is the first study to report that consumption of a high-fat meal transiently alters SIRT mRNA expression consistent in a pattern that mirrors changes in serum triglycerides. Decrease in expression of SIRT1 and SIRT6 combined with an increased SIRT4 would be consistent with an increase in metabolic disease risk if maintained on a chronic basis.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Best Sampson, Jill Nicole

Impact of a Genetically Engineered Probiotic Therapy and IGF-1 Genomics in the PAHenu2 Mouse Model of PKU

Description: Absence of functional phenylalanine hydroxylase results in phenylketonuria (PKU). Viable treatments remain few, expensive and secondary conditions such as osteopenia occur in most PKU patients. Objective 1: Given the recently described roles of gut microbes to aid host digestion, an orally administered genetically engineered probiotic as the delivery vehicle for enzyme replacement therapy was created. The engineered probiotic, pHENOMMenal, produced phenylalanine ammonia lyase with significant production of trans-cinnamate (phenylalanine cleavage product) in vitro and resulted in a reduction of 515 μM in blood phenylalanine when fed to PKU animals for 14 days (from 2307µM ± 264µM to 1792µM ± 261µM, n = 6, P < 0.05). The control probiotic produced no change in blood phenylalanine. Thus, pHENOMMenal treatment in PKU mice demonstrated engineered microbes could compensate for a metabolic deficiency of the host. Objective 2: Evaluate the PAHenu2 mouse model of PKU for a genetic discrepancy causing ocular enlargement and delayed development observed only after the PAHenu2 mutation was crossed to the C57BL/6J mouse. When compared to healthy littermates, ELISA indicated a consistent but insignificant decrease in plasma IGF-1 and an increase in ocular IGF-1 in PKU animals. SNP screening demonstrated a differential inheritance of IGF-1 alleles in healthy and PKU animals based on PAH allele inheritance. Ocular and developmental phenotypes in the PAHenu2 colony match those described in previous IGF-1 studies. Understanding the IGF-1 inheritance discrepancy will enable better osteopenia research using PAHenu2 mice and allow breeding of a healthier mouse colony for continued research. Collectively the results from this work describe a new therapeutic approach for treatment of PKU as well as a better understanding of the PAHenu2 mouse model to study this disease.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Durrer, Katherine Elaine

Phenotypic Morphological Plasticity Induced by Environmental Salt Stress in the Brine Shrimp, Artemia franciscana

Description: Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of an organism to express different phenotypes in response to biotic or abiotic environmental cues. The ability of an organism to make changes during development to adjust to changes in its environment is a key to survival. Sexually reproducing organisms that have short life cycles and that are easy to raise in the laboratory are more conducive for developmental phenotypic plasticity. Considerable research has already been carried out on the brine shrimp, Artemia franciscana, regarding its morphology due to changing salinities. There is, however, little research considering subsequent generations and how there morphology might be affected by parental experiences. This study has examined: 1) the morphological effects of different rearing regimes of different salinity levels, and 2) the epigenetic transgenerational transfer of these morphological traits in A. franciscana. Measurements included rate of growth (as measured by instar), body size, body length, and other morphological traits. A gradual increase to more hyperosmotic conditions during development produced brine shrimp that were larger in size and also more developmentally advanced. Salinity stress experienced by adults had increased the growth rate in the F1 offspring of A. franciscana. Collectively, these data indicate that Artemia franciscana is a tractable model for investigating phenotypic plasticity. These findings have added to the ever-growing field of developmental phenotypic plasticity while also providing more information on the natural history and adaptive abilities of A. franciscana.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Jones, Shaun Gray