• IDENTIFYING CANDIDATE GENES INVOLVED IN SYNDROMIC AND NON-SYNDROMIC INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY IN CONSANGUINEOUS PAKISTANI FAMILIES

      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.
    • 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.
    • Isolation and Culture of Microglia

      Doughty, Deanna; Venugopal, Natasha; Department of Biological Sciences; Bradford, Jennifer; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive and common adult brain tumor subtype, with the majority of patients surviving less than one year. The GBM microenvironment is composed of tumor cells as well as non-cancerous cells, such as microglia, a component of the immune system in the brain. To better understand the role of microglia in GBM, we have optimized in vitroculture conditions for primary microglia. Growing microglia in culture is challenging, but this technique is needed for planned future experiments. Microglia were isolated from mouse neuronal tissue by magnetic bead antibody cell separation using the cellular marker CX3CR1. Isolated microglia were then cultured in various culture conditions, and cellular morphology by light microscopy was used to determine cell health, viability, and activation status. It was determined that the primary microglia grow best in neurobasal media in wells coated with poly-D lysine. Future studies aim to isolate a larger number of cells to allow forco-culture of the inactivated microglia with GBM cells. These results will allow us to better understand the role that microglia play in GBM progression.
    • LOCALIZATION AND FUNCTION OF AN EXTRACELLULAR MATRIX PROTEIN, TINAGL1, IN RENAL EPITHELIAL CELLS

      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.
    • 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.
    • Patient Education of Acid Reducing Medication and Duration of Use

      Lewis, Allison; Autry, Prentiss; Spell, Dan; Rao, Amy; Hampton, Sarah; Department of Biological Sciences; Sein, Michael; Department of Family Medicine; Augusta University; University of Georgia; et al. (2018-02-12)
      Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a physical condition in which acid from the stomach flows into the esophagus. One of the most common symptoms of GERD is heartburn. Morethan 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and some studies suggest that more than 15 million Americans experience heartburn symptoms every day1. With Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) being one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States2, it is important to understand how patients are using these medications. Limited literature exists concerning a correlation between patient knowledge and duration of heartburn medication usage. This research identifies the demographic characteristics associated with the improper usage of acid reducing medications, specifically in the Southwest Georgia population. The participants of this study are representative of that area, with a majority of population residing in the medically underserved, low-income region of Albany, Georgia3. This information aims to help healthcare providers identify patients that are at a higher risk to misuse heartburn medication and be able to address these concerns.
    • A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION OF THE BLUE-EYED GRASSES

      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.
    • Production of a NF-¿B Deficient Microglial Animal Model

      Goodall, Michael; Soni, Karan; Department of Biological Sciences; Bradford, Jennifer; Department of Biological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Our goal is to determine how the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-?B) signaling pathway is used in the communication between microglia and the progression of glioblastoma (GBM) cancer cells. The NF-?B signaling pathway is very important in normal immune system function and has been implicated in various types of cancers, including, GBM. GBM is the most common type of adult brain cancer, has altered NF-?B signaling, and is also characterized by a large population of microglia, the immune cell of the central nervous system. Based on our recent studies, we hypothesize that deleting the major transcription factor (p65) of the canonical NF-?B pathway in microglia would slow the progression of GBM. To test this hypothesis, we have developed a p65fl/fl/CX3CR1CreERtransgenic animal, which should lack microglial p65 after exposure to tamoxifen. We currently have heterozygous animals and will soon begin characterizing them to determine p65 deletion efficiency.
    • 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.
    • Role of Aging in The Expression of Pain-related Depression of Nesting in Mice

      McPherson, Sarah; Patton, Tadd; Hunter, Lance; Department of Psychological Sciences; Miller, Laurence; Department of Psychological Sciences; Augusta University (2018-02-12)
      Pain stimulates some behaviors (e.g. flinching, vocalization), and depresses others (e.g. locomotor activity, social interactions). Pain-related depression of behavior is a key diagnostic criteria and treatment target in clinical settings, but preclinical research has primarily focused on pain-related stimulation of behavior. The present study aims to improve understanding of the impact of aging on pain-related depression of behavior by examining pain-related depression of nesting behavior in male ICR mice. The mice are placed in a cage containing nesting material, and the rate of consolidation of that material is determinedwith a schedule of data collection intervals. The impact of pain stimuli and analgesic drugs on nesting behavior are then determined. Previous studies have shown that physiologically-relevant pain stimuli depress nesting behavior, and clinically-relevant analgesics block pain-related depression of nesting. The present study will examine the role of aging as a determinant of the expression of pain-related depression of behavior by comparing pain-related depression of nesting by three age groups.
    • 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.
    • S100A1 IS ESSENTIAL FOR PEDIATRIC TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (PEDTBI) INDUCED DEPRESSIVE BEHAVIOR

      Sharma, Avirale; Sura, Suvarsha; Chaudhary, Rafay; Fatima, Sumbul; College of Science and Mathematics; Department of Medical Laboratory, Imaging and Radiologic Sciences; Pandya, Chirayu; Department of Medical Laboratory, Imaging and Radiologic Sciences; Hoda, Md Nasrul; Augusta University; et al. (2018-02-12)
      Background:Majority of kids visit the emergency room due to a pediatric traumatic brain injury (PedTBI), which increases the risk of long-term prognosis. S100A1 is a small molecular weight calciumbinding protein, whichdifferentially regulates cell specific signaling. Hypothesis:We tested the hypothesis that increased neuronal-S100A1 expression after PedTBI exacerbates depression. Methods:Wild type (WT) or S100A1 KO mice (SKO; 3-weeks) were used for behavioral comparison. Male mice from both strains (3-weeks) were also subjected to a closed-head PedTBI, followed by neurobehavioral assessments and tissue biochemistry at 4-weeks. Statistical significance was determined at P<0.05. Results:Naïve SKO mice showed significant anti-depressive phenotype compared to the WT control, and were resistant to the post-PedTBI depression. In WT mice, PedTBI significantly increasedthe neuronal-S100A1 in the cortex compared to the control, which paralleled with the significant decrease in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and synapsin I expressions, the key molecules in neural plasticity. Post-PedTBI loss in BDNF/Synapsin I and behavioral abnormalities due were reversed in the SKO mice. Conclusions:Our data identify neuronal-S100A1 as a possible link in the development of post-PedTBI depression. Further studies are warranted to establish the functional role of neuronal-S100A1in the development of depression after PedTBI.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • SYNTHESIS OF PEPTIDES WITH FLUORESCENT TAGS

      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.