David W. Kastner, Ankur Jalan, and Steven L. Castle
Bulky α,β-dehydroamino acids (ΔAAs) can improve the proteolytic stability of peptides that contain them, presumably by altering the shape of the backbone of the peptide and by stabilizing folded states through their rigidifying effect. The stabilizing effects of ΔAAs that contain at least one hydrogen atom at the β-carbon are well-known, but the role of bulky ΔAAs that contain fully substituted β-carbons in the stability of larger peptides is less explored. To better explore the conformational contribution of α,β-dehydroamino acids in β-hairpins we performed NMR-based structural calculations to confirm our experimental observations. We used the simulated annealing program CYANA to determine 20 low-energy conformations based on our NMR chemical shift and NOE data. The lowest energy conformations were then optimized using the quantum mechanics ONIOM method via the program Gaussian to confirm the hydrogen bonding pattern and the observed dihedral angles. The effect of the type and position of the bulky dehydroamino acid will be discussed.
Ryan Rupper, P Jeff Maughan, and Eric N. Jellen
Chenopodium quinoa (quinoa) is a high protein grain crop originating in the Andes. Quinoa’s ability to grow in drought and high salt conditions and its protein profile make it a highly sought after crop for world food security. Varieties of quinoa may be bitter or sweet, depending on the whether the variety produces saponins or not. Saponins are soap-like molecules that are believed to protect the plant from birds, fungi and other micro-organisms. The anti-nutritional effects of saponins on human means that they must be removed prior to human consumption. The process of desaponization is time consuming and requires specialized equipment. The goal of this project was to find a genetic marker linked to the bitter saponin production (BSP) gene to accelerate the breeding of improved sweet quinoa varieties using marker assisted selection.
Jeffrey Gongze Zhao and Laura C. Bridgewater
Obesity has become a serious health issue in the world (Ogden 2012), and its correlation to the human gut microbiota has been studied extensively since 2007 (Cani 2007). In 2013, researchers identified Enterobacter cloacae B29 from an obese patient’s gut and demonstrated its causal relationship to the host’s obese symptoms( Fei & Zhao 2013). However, there have not been many methods developed to alleviate obesity symptoms through eliminating pathogenic endotoxin-producing bacteria (such as E. cloacae B29), from the host’s gut flora. In this research, I propose a new strategy for treating obesity by using gut microbiome targeted bacteriophage therapy. Bacteriophages (phage) are viruses that infect bacteria by binding at specific and unique binding sites on the cell surface. Compared to broad-spectrum antibiotics, each phage only kills specific bacterium. Making it possible to only eradicate the pathogenic bacteria in the gut while leaving the probiotics to flourish, thus treating obesity. Multiple phages were isolated and characterized to be novel and unique phages that are highly lytic to B29 in vitro. These findings, with future studies, suggest that phage therapy may be used to be an effective treatment against obesity.
Alexander A. Gosch, Mary F. Davis, and Joshua C. Denny
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by demyelination in the central nervous system. In previous studies, serum uric acid (UA) levels have been implied as a useful biomarker in understanding MS disease progression and development. The majority of previous studies have found MS patients have a lower UA level than healthy controls, however some studies have found higher UA levels with MS patients. Previous studies have compared UA levels between subtypes of MS, but have not produced conclusive data. To better understand the correlation between UA levels and MS patients, we compared UA levels between our set of MS patients from the Vanderbilt BioVU database, which includes the electronic health records of ~7,000 MS patients.
In 499 MS patients and 276 healthy controls with UA results, Both gender and age were found to be contributing factors to UA levels (p = 5.979e-10 and p=4.448e-5). With both age and gender as covariates, we found no significant different UA levels associated with MS patients (regression, p=0.0858). UA levels were compared to MS subtype with no significant association (p = 0.628)
Our study failed to support previous evidence of low UA levels associated with MS patients. Gender and age were identified as contributing factors to UA level. There was no significant difference found between UA levels of different subtypes of MS.
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