Recent Submissions

  • Plos One Transient Plasma Membrane Disruption Induced Calcium Waves in Mouse and Human Corneal Epithelial Cells - Figure Data Files

    Zhong, Chen; Lu, Xiaowen; Watsky, Mitchell; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy
    Data Files for figures 2-6 in manuscript titled "Transient Plasma Membrane Disruption Induced Calcium Waves in Mouse and Human Corneal Epithelial Cells" published in PLOS ONE.
  • The Effect of Adenosine in the Phenotype of Gingival Fibroblasts

    Serrano-Lopez, Rogelio; College of Science and Mathematics (Augusta University, 2023-08)
    Our research was focused on the role of gingival fibroblasts in the gingival inflammatory response and in periodontitis. Previous work in our lab has identified adenosine signaling as a key pathway able to control inflammatory chemokine secretion of gingival fibroblasts. The data from human correlative studies comparing chemokine expression in healthy versus periodontitis was combined with our in vitro analysis of immunofluorescence. Our in vitro data from immunofluorescence results demonstrated the effect of adenosine in the inflammatory response of gingival fibroblasts, typified by the expression of CXCL8- family of cytokines, including CXCL1. We demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effect of adenosine on fibroblast phenotype typified by the decreased IL-1β-stimulated CXCL1 expression. CXCL1 was also significantly higher in samples derived from different grades/severity of periodontitis compared to healthy-derived samples in our analysis of a public dataset. Our data indicated fibroblasts have an important role in gingival inflammatory response. In our findings, the expression or production of CXCL1 was abrogated after treating the human gingival fibroblasts with adenosine after IL-1β stimulation. Thus, adenosine may influence the stromal gingival inflammatory response in periodontitis by reducing the fibroblast-mediated activation of inflammatory cells.
  • Effects of Compression Garments on Oxygen Consumption and Heart Rate

    Gilbert, Haley; College of Education (Augusta University, 2023-08)
    For my thesis I will be examining the influence full-leg compression garments have on oxygen consumption and heart rate. It is speculated that compression garments assist with blood flow velocity as well as increasing oxygen delivery to the muscles. It is well known that compression garments aid in recovery and are widely used in the diabetic community to reduce pooling in the lower limbs. What has not been well explored are the benefits to performance during running. Studies show that compression garments reduce muscle oscillation, as well as soft tissue movement (Bringard et al. 2006; Doan et al. 2003). It has been theorized this reduction creates lower stress at the joints and a reduction in injury risk. It is reasonable to question that if compression garments reduce muscle oscillation, then muscle activation time will also be reduced because the muscles will not have to work as hard to counteract the additional oscillating stress at impact. If muscles are not active for as long, then the muscles will not need to produce as much energy or use as much oxygen. With an increase in blood flow and reduction in muscle activation, the heart will not have to work as hard to circulate oxygen and similar effects may occur for heart rate. However, very few studies have examined full-leg compression garments while performing a submaximal endurance run. Therefore, we are testing subjects in full-leg compression garments while performing a 40-minute submaximal effort run to determine the effect on oxygen consumption and heart rate. From a runner's perspective I am intrigued with this topic because I am always looking for new ways to enhance my performance during competition and compression garments could be that next step. By gathering results from this research, it could potentially give us more information on enhancing running performance. In the future we could expand on this research by looking at more variables such as maximal oxygen uptake or examining the effects for longer endurance runs like marathons.
  • The Effects of Quinolinic Acid on Muscles and Bones

    Patel, Rohan; Augusta University (Augusta University, 2023-07-29)
    Quinolinic acid(QA) is an NMDA-receptor agonist associated with several neurological illnesses, including Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease. QA is a metabolite of tryptophan known for its excitotoxic nature in high concentrations. However, in normal conditions its acts as a precursor in the manufacture of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a key molecule for energy synthesis. As people age, the quantity of tryptophan and its metabolites, such as QA, fluctuates. With age, QA levels rise, while tryptophan and NAD+ levels decline. QA’s known association with energy production and beneficial properties is overlooked due to its toxic behavior. In this study, we hope to further examine QA through a different perspective by focusing on its potential healing properties rather than its harmful ones. We intend to investigate QA by identifying its effects on muscles and bone marrow stem cells. To decipher its effects, in vitro studies will be conducted. Through this process, we seek to learn if it has therapeutic qualities through cell proliferation and whether it stimulates stem cell differentiation. In the end, we believe that QA, a chemical with a negative connotation, will have notable healing effects on bones and muscles and will be able to provide possible linkage with healthy aging.
  • Impact of Community-based Cancer Initiative on Health Knowledge Regarding Prostate Cancer

    Idun, Barbara; Pamplin College, Augusta University (Augusta University, 2023-06-27)
    Although in recent decades deaths from prostate cancer have declined among all men, Black men in the US are twice as likely as non-Hispanic White men to die of prostate cancer and continue to have the highest prostate cancer mortality among all US population groups (American Cancer Society, 2021). Within the United States this phenomenon becomes more apparent in areas with a high density of Black Americans, for example the state of Georgia. There, disparity can be seen in prostate cancer with a rate of 50.3 deaths per 100,000 versus 18.4 deaths per 100,000 for non-Hispanic White men (Georgia Cancer Data Reports, 2016). Consensus agrees that these health inequalities exist due to a multitude of social, economic, and cultural factors. These include cultural attitudes towards cancer, and accessibility to healthcare. The cost of health inequality is human lives, thus, reducing the disparities seen in the Black American community is imperative. One initiative that has set out to tackle this is the Cancer Health Awareness through screeNinG and Education (CHANGE) program. CHANGE aims to reduce Black American racial disparities in prostate, colorectal, and breast cancer through education, navigation to screening, and provider cultural competency improvement. Researchers used an evidence-based template, with an emphasis on modifiable risk factor prevention (such as smoking or obesity), to develop informative classes on cancer screening eligibility, access to screening at the Georgia Cancer Center, and encouragement of early detection behaviors to promote health knowledge and self-efficacy. The CHANGE initiative presented four community-tailored sessions with a focus on cancer, screening, and modifiable risk factors guided by a trained facilitator. To gather evidence of acquired health knowledge an assessment survey was sent out before and after the sessions took place
  • Investigation of HphB and an ArAT in a Homologation Pathway Department of Chemistry & Physics

    Parviainen, Anna; Chemistry (Augusta University, 2023-05)
    Natural products (NPs) are nonessential metabolites produced by organisms that are often used in the production of pharmaceuticals. Their natural purpose is to protect their producing organism from the environment, making them an attractive medium for the starting point of drug discovery. NPs are generally very diverse in structure and therefore difficult to reproduce or alter structurally using organic synthesis. Understanding how NPs are synthesized in Nature aids researchers in developing new tools to produce novel NP-like bioactive compounds. The enzymatic pathway this project investigates is a homologation pathway found in the cyanobacterium Nostoc punctiforme PCC 73102 that serves to add a methylene (-CH2-) group to the side chain of an amino acid. Characterization of enzymes in this pathway could lead to the ability to artificially homologate other natural products, a tool that would be valuable because the addition of a methylene group has been shown to improve the biological activity of compounds. The two enzymes involved in this pathway that are being investigated in this project are dehydrogenase/decarboxylase HphB and an aromatic aminotransferase (ArAT). The goal of this project is to clone, express, and purify these enzymes and then test their enzymatic activity to characterize their detailed functions. The two enzymes of interest have been successfully purified by the biochemical technique affinity column chromatography, and the activity of ArAT is currently being investigated by applying the analytical method high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to experimental assays. The knowledge gained from this project will shed light on an unknown enzymatic pathway, which could ultimately lead to the development of a new enzymatic tool.
  • The Role of Rbx1 in Cardiac Development

    Varghese, Priyanka; Biology (Augusta University, 2023-05)
    The human heart is one of the first organs to form and function during the development of a human embryo. Heart development is a highly complicated and tightly regulated process that culminates in the formation of the four-chamber heart. During the 6 to 7 weeks of human embryo development, the bottom of the heart tube forms the two atria, and the middle of the tube forms the two ventricles. The ventricular walls then begin to divide into all 4 chambers. Each chamber includes an entrance and exit for blood flow. Abnormal heart structure can impair heart contractility and can lead to Congestive Heart Disease (CHD). CHD is very prevalent in many children in where the heart does not pump a sufficient amount of blood into one’s body. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2008), “CHDs affect nearly 1% of?or about 40,000?births per year in the United States”. CHD can be caused by genetic or environmental cues that disrupt heart development (Lage et al., 2012). The mechanisms that lead to CHD are unfortunately not fully understood.
  • The Role of KCTD 17 in the Striatal G-Protein Coupled Receptor Signaling

    Momin, Saniya; Cell and Molecular Biology (Augusta University, 2023-05)
    Many neurological disorders cause a wide array of detrimental effects, such as movement disorders. Despite an extensive amount of research on the underlying structure and signaling of neurodevelopmental disorders, such diseases remain largely uncured. After decades of unclear etiology, we now know of numerous genetic marker sessential for disease progression. Unfortunately, this revelation has not yet enhanced patient outcomes, suggesting precedence to investigate novel genetic players. Research is currently rising upon the potassium channel tetramerization domain (KCTD) family due to neurological diseases from patients with mutations in various KCTD genes. Yet,our understanding on the roles of KCTD proteins is in its infancy. However, several KCTDs (KCTD2, 5, 8, 12, and 16) have been shown to interact with components of the protein network that interrogate neuromodulatory signals through G Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs). Abundant evidence indicates an essential role in neuromodulatory GPCR signaling across a spectrum of movement disorders. Intriguingly clinical variations in KCTD17, which has a high level of homology to KCTD2/5, is causal of movement disorders. Therefore, we have examined KCTD17’s role in the GPCR signaling pathway. In addition, previous reports have demonstrated a relationship between primary cilia and KCTD17. Intriguingly, components of the GPCR signaling pathway have been localized to primary cilia, however the role of primary cilia in neuromodulatory signaling has not yet been explored. We tested the significance of this pathway by observing the effects of cilia on KCTD17 to help us better understand the function of primary cilia to KCTD17 regarding neuromodulatory signaling. The long-term goal was to analyze how the loss of KCTD17 can affect motor control. We used the CRISPR/Cas9 approach to see how KCTD17 can affect the neuronal activity via GPCR signaling and primary cilia disruption. We found that disruption of primary ciliaindeed influences GPCR signaling. We are hopeful the results will shed light to find further treatment in the neurodevelopmental disorders associated with the protein.
  • Design and Synthesis of Potential Antiviral Drug Candidates

    Moore, Jade; Chemistry (Augusta University, 2023-05)
  • The role of bHLH transcription factor Bmal2 in arterial endothelialcircadian rhythms and remodeling: Sex dependent effects in mice

    Moratin, Jordan; Cell and Molecular Biology (Augusta University, 2023-05)
    Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of mortality in humans. An important influence in the progression of artery disease is the long-term effect of disruptions in daily patterns or circadian rhythms. Not sleeping well at night, and daytime sleepiness associate with cardiovascular disease. In addition, a cardiovascular system that does not rest well at night is also bad. A blood pressure reading that does not decrease at night called non-dipping hypertension worsens cardiovascular disease. One important impact of broken rhythms is to cause disease in arteries. Thus, understanding the mechanisms that control 24-hour daily patterns is important. One key component gene of circadian rhythm is the transcription factor Bmal1. Vascular disease is a progression that begins as an adaptation to hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia, whereby blood vessels change their structure in response to these changes in the bloodstream through a process called vascular remodeling. Remodeling is a process whereby arteries, arterioles, and even veins change their size and cellular structure (muscularity). Using mouse models of genetic disruption, our lab previously found that Bmal1 has an important role to control vascular remodeling, and when Bmal1 is disrupted, a vascular disease phenotype occurred. The lab also found that the endothelial cell layer of arteries contributes to the disease in Bmal1 knockout (KO) mice. These observations seemed the same in both males and females, thus, were sex independent. Bmal2, is a paralog of Bmal1, and interacts with Bmal1, and is more selectively expressed in the endothelium. However, the role of Bmal2 in remodeling is not clear. To understand the role of Bmal2 in vascular disease, I have implemented a widely used experimental animal model of arterial ligation to induce vascular remodeling. I have ligated the left common carotid artery (LC) in two groups of mice, control wild-type mice (no genetic mutation) and the experimental Bmal2-KO (global knockout) mice. After two weeks, I isolated the LC and fixed the arteries in optimal cutting temperature (O.C.T.) compound and conducted histological processing (cut cross sections with a cryotome and staining with hematoxylin and eosin). I then quantified the changes in structure in the artery using the ImageJ program on digitized microscope images. My findings show that inward remodeling and wall-hypertrophy in male Bmal2-KO mice are similar to wild-type mice. The inward remodeling observed in the male WT and male Bmal2-KO mice is consistent with the normal response of what has been observed in this ligation model, inward accompanied by wall hypertrophy. However, I saw something different in the female Bmal2 KO mice undergoing the ligation for two weeks. Female Bmal2-KO mice exhibited robust inward remodeling that was accompanied by intimal hyperplasia. My data suggest that there are sex-specific differences in remodeling controlled by Bmal2.
  • COVID-19 in Nursing Homes : A Comprehensive Survey of Healthcare Management Practices

    O'Keefe, Anabelle; Health Services and Music (Augusta University, 2023-04)
  • Investigation of Vitamin B12 for the treatment of traumatic brain injury

    Onyekachi, Joy; Biology (Augusta University, 2023-05)
    This study investigates the potential of vitamin B12 as a treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs are complex injuries that can result in a wide range of symptoms, and current treatments include medications, surgery, and therapies. The pathology of TBIs includes excitotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction, and apoptotic cell death. Vitamin B12 has been shown to have neuroprotective effects in various neurological disorders, but its potential as a treatment for TBI has not been extensively studied. This study uses a rodent model of TBI to investigate the effects of vitamin B12. The study aims to contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms underlying TBI and to identify potential therapeutic targets for this complex injury. The rats underwent CCI surgery and were divided into three groups: control group, injured non-treated group, and experimental group. Each group consisted of 10 adult rats, and cognitive and behavioral testing was conducted using the Foot Fault Task (FFT). The FFT allowed for the quantitative assessment of the motor deficits that commonly occurred following brain injury. The assigned task for the project was to score and analyze the foot fault data, providing important insights into the motor deficits experienced by the rats and the potential impact of vitamin B12 on their recovery. Figure 1 shows a linear decline in the number of foot faults made by the rats, indicating improved motor coordination and balance. However, statistically B12 did not have any significant effect on the treatment of TBI.
  • Investigation of Fear Memory Induced by Contextual Fear Conditioning

    Pokharel, Kritika; Cell and Molecular Biology (Augusta University, 2023-05)
  • The Function of ELAVL Genes During Neuronal Reprogramming

    Williams, Christine; Chemistry (Augusta University, 2023-04)
    Spinal cord injuries often impair a person’s daily life by limiting mobility. While potential treatments such as stem cell transplantation are being investigated in animal models, these treatments have not translated in clinical trials and entail risks including triggering an immune response and tumorigenesis. Neuronal reprogramming has emerged as an alternative method of treating spinal cord injuries to restore the mobility lost by patients. When an injury to the spinal cord occurs, reactive astrocytes surround the site of injury where neurons have died. Neuronal reprogramming involves the reprogramming of surrounding glial cells into functional neurons. While neuronal reprogramming has great potential in treating neurological diseases, the underlying molecular mechanisms of this unique biological process are still not fully elucidated. Previous research has shown that when overexpressed, the transcription factor, NeuroD1 can convert reactive astrocytes into functional neurons at a high conversion efficiency. The overexpression of NeuroD1 leads to upregulation of other genes including the two genes, ELAVL2 and ELAVL4. Here, I aim to determine if these two genes have reprogramming ability on their own. Upon cloning into overexpression vectors, I examined the function of these genes in reprogramming of glial cells (U251 glioblastoma cell line). Using techniques like western blot and immunocytochemistry, cells overexpressing these genes were analyzed. Overexpression of ELAVL2 and ELAVL4 resulted in no significant change in morphology and no expression of the young neuronal marker, DCX. In conclusion, this study does not support the hypothesis that the overexpression of ELAVL2 and ELAVL4 could result in neuronal reprogramming.
  • Southeastern Fiddler Crabs : Distribut io ns & Characteristics of Burrow Ornamentation

    Patel, Staumi; Biology (Augusta University, 2023-05)
    An experimental design has been chosen to exhibit the distributions and characteristics of fiddler crab burrow ornaments , specifically present on the southern coast of the United States. This thesis will demonstrate the growing evidence of non-biological ornamentation found in the burrows constructed by fiddler crabs. To further this research, two sampling sites have been pinpointed along the southeastern coast, Edisto Island and Hunting Island, to survey the existing features of fiddler crab burrow ornaments. The distribution of burrow structures was compared to local regional differences between South Carolina versus Georgia and the Southeast versus the Northeast coast. Furthering this research, it was also postulated that burrowing behavior of fiddler crabs is affected by the sediment size and the construction of the burrow ornaments/hoods. To identify the presence of fiddler crab semi domes and ornaments of the type, a continuation of observations of the ecological features, such as mating, predation, and environmental heterogeneity will be factored.
  • The effect of exercise mode on time perception during exercise

    Johnson, Kade; Kinesiology (Augusta University, 2023-05)
  • Expression and Purification of HphB and ArAT: Enzymes in the L-Phenylalanine Homologation Pathway

    Reynes, Juan-Paolo; Cell and Molecular Biology (Augusta University, 2023-05)
    Natural products (NPs) are organic molecules produced by microorganisms and plants that are often used in drugs and drug leads. Organisms use biological catalysts called enzymes to perform the biosynthesis of NPs. Homo-L-phenylalanine (L-Hph) is an uncommon amino acid derived from L-phenylalanine (L-Phe) by a chemical process called homologation. L-Hph is used as a building block of some peptide NPs to enhance their biostability. HphB and aromatic amino acid aminotransferase (ArAT) are two out of four enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of L-Hph. In the proposed biosynthesis of L-Hph, HphB catalyzes dehydrogenation/decarboxylation to convert 2-benzyl-3-hydroxybutanedioic acid (B3HB) to 2-oxo-4-phenylbutyric acid (OPB). ArAT is responsible for the first and last step of the homologation pathway: the conversion of L-Phe to phenylpyruvic acid (PPA) and 2-oxo-4-phenylbutyric acid (OPB) to L-Hph. This project focused on cloning, expression, and purification of HphB and ArAT. After cloning of genes encoding HphB and ArAT into the expression plasmid pET-28a, HphB was overexpressed in E. coli and purified by an affinity column chromatography. It is now ready for the enzymatic assays for its characterization. However, purification of ArAT was unsuccessful as the protein was insoluble. It was cloned to be expressed with different tags that can enhance the protein solubility, such as 6×histidine tag at N- and/or C-terminus as well as maltose binding protein tag, all of which did not make the protein soluble in a large scale. Further expression experiments using different constructs and conditions will be performed in the future. Characterizing enzymes involved in the homologation of L-Phe to L-Hph could allow for future engineering of the pathway to produce L-Hph analogs and other homologated amino acids. These compounds can be used to increase the potency and stability of existing drugs, as L-Hph is used as a chiral building block in some pharmaceuticals, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

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