Weather, Angel; Sweatman, Zachary; Bae, Junsoo; Lebedyeva, Iryna; Department of Chemistry and Physics; Augusta University (2018-02-21)
      Covalently linked acceptor-spacer-donor (A-S-D) multichromophoric systems have previously been discussed largely in mechanistic terms, with emphasis on the roles of electronic and nuclear functions in determining the factors of internal electron transfer. Electron energy transfer between donor (D) and acceptor (A) molecules has long been applied to measure or estimate distance in macromolecular systems, molecular stacking, intramolecular changes caused by ionic strength or target molecule binding, to define protein folding and aggregation and finally to give information about conformational changes in the molecule. Coumarins represent a family of dyes that often play the role of electron donor in electron-charged systems. During tailoring of new chromophore dyads, coumarin derivatives have been linked to fullerene, peptides, and dyes (benzimidazol benzopyrans). In particular, 7-methoxy-2-oxo-2H-chromene-3-carboxylic acid is a commonly used tag that provides strong fluorescence and acts as an electron-donor. In current work we are developing chiral systems of 10 Å and more in order to establish a structure map whenever the donor-acceptor fluorophore is conjugating with another system (e. g. peptides). Our team enhances the fluorescence of the two coumarin-based fluorophores by linking them to the N- and C-peptide moieties via 1,2,3-triazine linkers.

      Dojack, Amanda; Schulte, Megahn; Meyers, Amos; Curry-McCoy, Tiana; Department of Kinesiology and Health Science; Department of Radiology; Holland, Angelia; Department of Kinesiology and Health Science; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Cognitive function and cardiovascular health often decline with age. Purpose: The relationship between cognitive performance and cardiovascular health in older versus younger men and women was examined. Methods: This cross-sectional study included 13 younger(18-35years old)and 10 older (55-75 years old) individuals. Participants visited the lab fasted and the following occurred in order: informed consent and questionnaires filled out, blood pressure and resting heart rate recorded, triglyceride and cholesterol measured via a fingerprick, anthropometric measures recorded, cognitive performance assessed via tests from the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics, and a modified YMCA 3-minute step test assessed recovery heart rate. Results: No differences between male and female between six different cognitive tests. The older group demonstrated significantly greater scores on five of the six cognitive tests (P<0.01-0.05) and had a higher education level (P<0.001). The younger group had lower systolic (P<0.01) and diastolic (P<0.05) blood pressure while the older group demonstrated a lower resting heart rate (P<0.05). Females demonstrated a greater recovery heart rate (P<0.01) and total cholesterol (P<0.05) than males. There were no differences in age groups for BMI, fitness level, or glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels. Conclusion: Higher education and fitness may negate age-related cognitive declines.

      Kalra, Aarushi; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy; LeMosy, Ellen; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Theextracellular matrix (ECM)playsimportant rolesin cell adhesion and communication. We arestudying the localization and function of a small ECMprotein, tubulo-interstitial nephritis antigen-like protein 1 (Tinagl1),in mammalian cell lines. Previous studies conducted in zebrafish suggest that Tinagl1is imperativefor function of motile cilia; however, it is still uncertainas to how this presumed basement membrane protein could regulate cilia, and whether thisfunction has relevance inmammalian cells havingonly primary, non-motile cilia.We will useimmunostaining ofTinagl1 in mouse renal collecting duct epithelial (IMCD3) cellsto determine if it is only on basal side or if it can also be detected on cilia on the apical side. We will establishthe knockdown of tinagl1expression using siRNA methodswith measurements of mRNA andprotein levels. Using appropriate assays, we will examine iftheknockdown of Tinagl1 causes theloss of primary cilia, changes in cell viability and programmed cell death, and/or the detachment of cell-cell or cell-matrix adhesions. Thisproject will showbasic functionsof Tinagl1 in renal epithelial cell behavior, which will eventually give us moreinformation about itsanticipated rolesin cell adhesion, cell survival, and primary cilia homeostasis.
    • Does the JNK/Jun Signaling Node Regulate Autophagy in Breast Cancer Cells?

      Joseph, Carol; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy; Schoenlein, Patricia V.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      A common treatment for estrogen receptor positivebreast cancers is the use of selective estrogen receptor modulators such as Tamoxifen.1Unfortunately, 30-40% of patients experience relapse due tothe development ofantiestrogen resistance. Autophagy, a process that is typically seen in cells that are exposed to a variety of stresses, is critical to development of antiestrogen resistanceand may play a key role in metastatic progression.2,3 To further combat antiestrogen resistance, a potential target for breast cancers is JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase), a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family. The mechanismsby which JNK inhibition affects breast cancer cell growthare not fully characterized.Our hypothesis is that JNK is a key regulator of autophagy and the emergence of autophagy-dependent antiestrogen resistant breast cancer. Our aims are todetermine the effect of JNK inhibition on autophagy, cell number, and cell viability under conditions of antiestrogen treatment.By utilizingMCF-7breast cancercells andthe irreversible JNK-IN-8 inhibitor our current data provides strong evidence that JNK inhibition blocks autophagy. Data supporting a role for JNK in the regulation of antiestrogen-mediated autophagy have the potential to identify JNK as a molecular target for the improved treatment of breast cancer.
    • Guidelines for Healthy Food Production in an Urban Brownfield: Is Aquatic Vegetation Safe for Composting?

      Barrera, Bryuanna; Greene, Rhiley; Mondeddu, Sheena; Department of Biological Sciences; Clinical and Digital Health Sciences; Wear, Donna; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Sibley Mill, located in the community of Harrisburgnear Augusta University, is a designated brownfield. The property was the site of theConfederate Powder Works and later that ofa cotton mill.Soil contaminantsinclude arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium,lead and mercury.There are documented cases of children in this community with elevated blood concentrations of lead. Risks associated with lead poisoning are damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, and behavioral problems.The benefits of urban agricultureare wellestablished, but currently there are no guidelines for safe methods of food production in brownfields. Aquatic vegetation is removed weekly from the Augusta Canal to enablehydroelectric powergenerationat Sibley Mill. We are using this vegetationto implementa novel approach for the production of compostfor raised-bed gardening.We measured the concentrations of 14 heavy metals, prior to composting, to establishbaseline data. Concentrations of barium(253.3-962.4 ppm)and lead(4.1-16.5ppm)exceed the guidelines recommended for drinking waterand are the two metals of greatest concern for the productionof safe, usablecompost.
    • Role of Perivascular Adipose Tissue in Vasoreactivity

      Prasad, Rosaria; Department of Biological Sciences; Kim, Ha Won; Department of Medicine; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) surrounds most systemic vessels directly around the lamina adventitia, which has an anti-atherosclerotic effect. However, inflamed and dysfunctional PVAT induced by high fat diet (HFD) is associated with various cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the systemic effect of PVAT on vascular functions in the setting of diet-induced obesity. 50 mg of PVAT or subcutaneous adipose tissue (SQAT, as a control) from obese donor mice (fed with HFD) was transplanted into the abdominal aorta in recipient mice. We found that PVAT transplantation group showed significantly higher insulin resistance than the SQ group (p=0.095) whereas no differences were observed in body weight, fat composition, and glucose tolerance between these groups. Interestingly, PVAT transplantation, but not SQAT or sham group, showed the impaired vasoconstriction in thoracic aorta, as examined by wire myography. Furthermore, PVAT transplanted group promoted endothelial dysfunction as evaluated by endothelium-dependent relaxation curve analysis.PVAT transplantation into the abdominal aorta is associated with endothelial dysfunction of the thoracic aorta. Dysfunction of PVAT induced by high-fat feeding may negatively affect metabolic and vasoreactivity in an endocrine manner.
    • Disease Gene Discovery for Microcephaly in Consanguineous Pakistani Families

      Sivised, Vattika; College of Science and Mathematics; Kim, Hyung-Goo; Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Microcephaly is a genetic condition where the brain does not develop normally resulting in a reduced head circumference, and the disorder can be non-syndromicor syndromic.There are two types of microcephaly: primaryand secondary. Microcephaly is passed down through family lines as an X-linked recessive autosomal dominant or recessive disorder.Microcephaly can be segregated in families through consanguineous marriages. These interfamilial marriages can lead to the child inheriting identical defective copies of genes from both parents, which results in an autosomal recessive disease.This paper will explore four Pakistani families, each practicing consanguineous marriages that have resulted in individuals displaying syndromic and non-syndromic microcephaly.A list of chromosomal regions obtained from genotyping methods allowed for the narrowing down of potential causative genes in each family. Using online search engines, including Endeavour and the Human Genome Browser, four lists of candidate genes were obtained, one for each family.For two families, a defect in the ASPMgene, a gene that is reported to cause primary microcephaly,has beendiscovered. Potential candidate genes, including SCN7AandPKIB, present in chromosomal regions found through homozygosity mapping of the remaining two families could be the cause of the phenotype and will be discussed.
    • Epigenetic modifications in rat pancreas following ethanol abuse.

      Liao, Kristie; Nancy Jhanji; Pruitt, Allison; Patton, Tadd; Hernandez, Caterina; Department of Biological Sciences; College of Nursing; Department of Psychological Sciences; Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Sabbatini, Maria Eugenia; et al. (2018-02-12)
      Chronic consumption of alcohol can lead to pancreatitis, which can predispose to pancreatic cancer. Because combinations of histone modifications have been implicated in pancreatic tumorigenesis, our goal is to find histone modifications in pancreatic acinar cell nuclei following by ethanol abuse. As an animal model of alcoholism, alcohol preferring (P) rats and alcohol non-preferring rats (NP) were used. Histones were extracted from rat pancreatic nuclear fractions using 0.4 N sulfuric acid and dialysis. Histone modifications were studied by Western-blotting analysis using the following antibodies: anti-trimethyl-histone H3 at Lys9 (H3K9me3), anti-dimethyl-histone H3 at Lys9, anti-phospho-histone H3 at Ser10, anti-acetyl-histone H3 atLys14, anti-histone H3, anti-acetyl-histone H4, anti-histone H4. We found that alcohol abuse caused a decrease in the phosphorylation of histone H3. This result was observed in pancreatic tumor specimens.Further studies are needed to determine the extentto which both modifications are related and which gene expression is affected.
    • Expression and Treatment of Pain-Related Depression of Fixed-Ratio and Progressive-Ratio Food-Maintained Behavior in Rats

      Baker, Frederick; Frazier, Eric; Marshall, Laura; Sinclair, Sequoia; Thakkar, Parth; Department of Psychological Sciences; Miller, Laurence; Department of Psychological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Increasingly, preclinical studies on the expression, mechanisms, and treatment of pain have been aimed at improving understanding of pain-related interference with behavior. Positively reinforced operant behaviors are sensitive to depression by physiologically relevant pain stimuli. Most studies using operant conditioning procedures to examine pain-related depression of behavior have used fixed-ratio schedules of reinforcement. The primary dependent variable in these studies is the rate of behavior. In contrast, the primary dependent variable in studies using progressive-ratio schedules of reinforcement is breakpoint. Breakpoint is defined as the total number of reinforcers earned, and is thought to be related to the subject's motivation to obtain the reinforcer. This study examined effects of pain and analgesic manipulations on behavior maintained under fixed-ratio and progressive-ratio schedules of behavior. Intraperitoneal injection of dilute lactic acid was more potent at depressing behavior under the fixed-ratio schedule compared to the progressive-ratio schedule. Ketoprofen was equipotent at blocking pain-related depression of behavior maintained under both schedules. These findings support the validity of operant procedures astools to examine candidateanalgesics for the treatment of pain-related depression of behavior. Moreover, the use of diverse schedules of reinforcement may yield important scientific information on the mechanisms underlying pain-related interference with behavior.
    • The Significance of the Study of Evolution: Development and Implementation of an Interactive Course Module: Phase I

      Wilson, Cynthia Lynn; Sanyal, Nilabhra; Wise, Alisha; Department of Biological Sciences; Hull College of Business; Mukhopadhyay, Soma; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      The goal of this project is to create an interactive, one week coursemoduleto supplement teaching students about the connections between molecular evolution, macroevolution, microevolution and how they pertain tothehuman body and health. Thisinteractive course module is beingdeveloped using resources from the Internet that will allow the students to better understand the content. The main purpose of this course modulewill be to show that evolution is an evidence based science that affects public health and all fields of biology. Those who believe that evolution is antithetical to their beliefs, their concerns and the controversies that surround the study and teaching evolution will be addressed to ease any problemsthatthey may have. Surveys will be given at the beginning and end of the course to gauge the students' current and learned knowledge of evolutionand to get feedback for further improvement. This pedagogical research will be used to show that evolution is based on empirical evidence and is necessary to learn as it serves as the foundation of phylogenetic studies in biology. This knowledge can be applied to better understand individual human health and then to the wider field ofpublic health.
    • Examining the Effects of Aetokthonos hydrillicola extract on Oxidative Stress in C6 Cells

      Ward, Kayla; College of Science and Mathematics; Wiley, Faith; College of Science and Mathematics; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Aetokthonos hydrillicola,a species ofcyanobacteria,has colonized an invasive species of hydrilla in the lakes of the Southeastern United States. This cyanobacterium is suspected to cause Avian Vacuolar Myclinopathy (AVM). AVM is a neurological disease that affect birds. Bald eagles and American coots havebeen primarily studied and known to be affected by AVM. Symptoms of AVM consist of brain lesions, loss of basic motor skills, and the disease often leads to death. Extracts of A. hydrillicolaare toxic to C6 cells, and this cell line is used as a model toexamine the mechanism of toxicity. The aim of this research project is to understand the role of oxidative stress in A. hydrillicolacytotoxicity and determine if antioxidant compounds may protect the cells. Common oxidative stress inhibitors, Gingko bilobaextracts and selenium, have been tested in different concentrations in order to determine if oxidative stress is present and preventable. These compounds did not prevent toxicity in the C6 cells exposed to the cyanobacterial extracts. The presence of oxidative stress in cytotoxicity will be further tested using oxidative stress analysis tests as well as other antioxidant compounds. Various measures of oxidative stress will be used to assess if oxidative damage occurs following exposure to the cyanobacterial extract.

      Pepper, Anthony; Fischer, Jeffrey; Department of Biological Sciences; Bradford, Jennifer; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      The aim of this study was tocharacterize bone-marrow derived macrophages (BMDMs) that lack canonical nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-?B) signaling. The macrophages for the study were obtained by harvesting the bone-marrow fromp65LysMCre (KO) mice and LysMCrecontrolmice.To determine NF-?B deletion efficiency, p65 (a transcription factor in the canonical pathway) protein levels were evaluated by fluorescent microscopyin bothKOand control BMDMs that had been stimulated withlipopolysaccharide(LPS).The induction ofiNOSwasmonitoredin KO and control BMDMswhenactivated by NF-?B stimulatorsIFN-?andLPS.The regulation of iNOSwas assessedby comparing macrophages that had been treated withLPS, IFN-?, or both to a control treatment under fluorescent microscopy. In addition to staining, a nitric oxide assay was employed to help determine the extent of iNOS activity.The macrophages were also visualized under light microcopyby comparing macrophagesthat were stimulated with LPS andIFN-?tounstimulated cellsusing fluorescence microscopy.Currently,a caspase assay is in progress to help further evaluate the effects of p65 losswithin macrophages.
    • Structural Affinity of CAP1 and AC isoforms

      Mehrotra, Simran; Department of Biological Sciences; Sabbatini, Maria Eugenia; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      The major cause of death of pancreatic cancer is metastases. For that reason, it is of interestto study the mechanism through which the pancreaticcancercells migrate as itcould help with future medicine and prolong survivalrate. Adenylyl cyclase-associated protein 1 (CAP1)is involved in the regulation of actin microfilament formation, which ultimately regulatescell migration and invasion.CAP1 binds to G-actin,inhibiting polymerization. In previousresults,we found CAP1 interactswith a number ofadenylyl cyclase (AC) isoforms: AC1, AC3, AC4 and AC7. The goal for this project wasto study therelative affinityof CAP1 for each AC isoform. Using sequential co-immunoprecipitation, we found that AC1 is the isoform that interacts more firmly with CAP1 in HPAC cells. Further studies will be done usingthe homology modeling.

      Brown, Jason; Department of Biological Sciences; Kim, Hyung-Goo; Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Intellectual disability (ID) is characterized by substantial limitations in intellectual functioningbefore the age of 18. One of its causes is genetic etiology. Around 300 genesarebelieved to beinvolved in autosomal recessive ID (ARID). It is thought that there are still many more genes as yet undiscovered. Consanguineous families have higher rates of autosomal recessive disorders and so make a good population in which to study ARID. Phenol-chloroform extraction was performed on the bloodof five consanguineous Pakistani families with syndromic and non-syndromic ID to obtain DNA. The DNA wasgenotyped using an SNP microarray and homozygosity mapping was used to analyze the genotyping data to provide candidate regions within the chromosomes likely to contain genes involved in ID. A review of current literaturewasperformed to identify the most likely candidate genes among the identified regions in each family. In the most likely region from each family, 36 genes in total were identified as candidates for involvement with ID, with 17 identified as stronger candidates. This paves the way for future studies to provide more evidence for causation. DNA sequencing could be used to identify potentially causative mutations, which could then be tested in animal models.

      Treacy, Corey; Department of Biological Sciences; Christy, Charlotte; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      The genus Sisyrinchium(Iridaceae) is a taxonomically complex group that includes several species that are native to the Eastern United States. Initially, two populations with differing morphologies were observed in areas with contrasting maintenance and mowing regimes. This generated two initial questions: Are these populations the same species, and if so, are the contrasting morphologies due to phenotypic plasticity? Investigations included: surveys for additional populations; whether plants could be transplanted to a common habitat; observation of seedling morphology; simulated mowing to test for plastic responses; germination of seeds; and comparisons of reproductive output and of pigmentation. Results suggest that these populations are the same species but that there are differences in reproductive effort, in pigmentation, and in response to fertilizer application. Further investigations to determine if observed differences are heritable and to characterize the type and extent of genetic differences among populations are planned.
    • Forecasting Hotel Occupancy Rates in Augusta: Can Google Trends Improve Forecasts?

      Callison, Jamie; Hull College of Business; Thompson, Mark; Hull College of Business; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      This project will develop models in an attempt to develop better forecasts of hotel occupancy for the market in Augusta, Georgiaby utilizing historical occupancy data and Google trends data. Using the historical data from the years 2012 through 2015, a series of five univariate modelswill be made with differing forecasting equations to forecast the year 2016. The forecast for theyear 2016 will be compared to actual occupancy data from 2016 to measure for errors. The models will then be re-estimated with additional keywords that will be chosen on the basis that they will be commonly used to search for and book hotels. Some terms will be specific to Augusta and others will be general for booking hotels. With those terms, an index will be created to weigh the terms according to their relevance throughout the year, according to Google trends. With the addition of the keywords, the newforecasts will be compared to actual occupancy data from 2016. Errors of the univariate models and the models utilizing Google trends data will be compared to determine the accuracy of the two forecasting techniques.
    • The Relationship Between Christianity and PTSD Shown Through 19th- and 20th-Century Literature

      Smith, Allyson; Department of English and Foreign Languages; Dr. Lee Anna Maynard; Department of English and Foreign Languages; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      This project explores the validity of faith, specifically Christianity, as a coping mechanism for those suffering from PTSD. Rather than solely looking at the scientific side of this topic, I will use two works of fiction to represent the cultural attitudes toward Christianity as it relates to PTSD.The selected works are Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.I chose to approach the topic this way because works of art, including fictional writings, tend to reflect the state of society in which the author lived. By incorporating context from the cultural and medical knowledge of PTSD at the time the books were written, events in the author's lives, and events in the world at the time the authors were writing their books, I will explorewhether a return to faith as a coping mechanism can be an effective strategy for the modernindividual struggling with PTSD.
    • Measuring the Influence of the Traffic Noise on Songbird Vocalizations

      Frazier, Eric; VanDeventer, Melissa; Cromer, Robert; Department of Psychological Sciences; Cromer, Robert; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Songbirds are a group of perching birds from the order, Passeriformesthat possess a uniquely developed syrinx allowing for production of distinctive songs.Research suggests that songbird vocalizations can be influenced by their environment. The objective of this experiment is to test whether traffic noise can alter songbird vocalizations in comparison to songbirds in naturallyless noisy settings, i.e. parks, forests and marshes.Recordings were taken at Pendleton King Park, Brick Pond Park, University Village trail,Phinizy Swampand near the Interstate20. The recordings of both the low-noise natural andhigh-noise interstatesettings were then analyzed using the software Songscope® .We evaluated song interval and frequency and compared experimental groups using a Student's paired T-test.
    • The Sublethal Effects and Bioaccumulation of 17 -Ethinyl Estradiol in Lumbriculus variegatus

      Ogun-Semore, Kikelomo; Department of Biological Sciences; Wiley, Faith; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Freshwater sources are subject to contamination of toxic compounds and other harmful materials through improper sewage cleanup and pollution. Ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic, steroidal estrogen used as contraception, is present in varying concentrations across freshwater sources worldwide. The objective of this study is to observe the sublethal effects and bioaccumulation of ethinyl estradiol (EE) in Lumbriculus variegatus. Data on the reproduction rate and segment regrowth of L. variegatusare currently being collected. In the future, bioaccumulation of EE within L. variegatuswill be observed through sediment tests and an ethinyl estradiol ELISA. Preceding data has found that ethinyl estradiol exposure leads to an increase in mortality, a decrease in offspring, and changes in reproductive morphology among other freshwater invertebrates. The data collected from this experiment would contribute to information available on the effects of low-dosage endocrine disruptor concentrations on freshwater organisms. The effects of EE and its bioaccumulation could be extrapolated to include bioaccumulation of EE in organisms of higher trophic levels, including vertebrates.
    • Innovation in Improving General Chemistry Student Lab Performance

      Jain, Ash; Thompson, Celeste; Wilson, Michael; Department of Biological Sciences; Department of Chemistry and Physics; Wan, Yanjun; Department of Chemistry and Physics; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      General Chemistry students often struggle with transitioning from high school level to college level chemistry not only in lectures but also in the corresponding labs. The teaching assistant (TA) of one of the General Chemistry I labs in the Fall 2017 semester noticed after the first 3 labs that students really struggled with linking what they had learned in lecture with the labs they were performing, resulting in low understanding and performance in labs. In an attempt to address this issue, the TA started to organize voluntary pre-lab meetings to review relevant concepts from lecture prior to each week's lab.This gradually turned into an undergraduate SoTL research because of the need to assess the effectiveness of and to provide guidance for future directions for such meetings. Despite the small sample size, this pilot study exhibited encouraging initial results that students who frequently attended these pre-lab meetings had outperformed their counterparts not only on the average performance in the latter labs but also in their understanding and performance in lectures. To repeat this study on a larger scale in the Spring 2018 semester, two of the students who had benefited from the pilot study joined this research to make these pre-lab meetings available to more students at various times, in the attempt to better assess and maximize the effectiveness of these meetings. Positive findings from the larger scale study could offer insights for the incorporation of similar practices into other chemistry labs in future.