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Articles 1 - 15 of 15

Full-Text Articles in Molecular Biology

Induction Of Antibodies To Hiv-1 Envelope Using Simian Adenovirus Vaccines, Kristel Lucie Emmer Jan 2018

Induction Of Antibodies To Hiv-1 Envelope Using Simian Adenovirus Vaccines, Kristel Lucie Emmer

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has infected 76 million people since the beginning of the epidemic. The first evidence that an HIV-1 vaccine could prevent infection in humans was provided in the RV144 vaccine efficacy trial. RV144 demonstrated 31.2% efficacy and immune correlate analyses indicated that antibodies targeting the variable 2 (V2) region of HIV-1 envelope (Env) correlated with decreased risk of infection. However, significant improvements are needed to develop a globally effective vaccine against HIV-1.

Several approaches can be employed to improve upon vaccination strategies: heterologous prime-boost regimens, immunogen design, and alternative adjuvants. To enhance Env-specific antibodies ...


Use Of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Models To Elucidate Retinal Disease Pathogenesis And To Develop Gene-Based Therapies, Thu Thi Duong Jan 2018

Use Of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Models To Elucidate Retinal Disease Pathogenesis And To Develop Gene-Based Therapies, Thu Thi Duong

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Choroideremia (CHM) is a rare monogenic, X-linked recessive inherited retinal degenerative disease caused by mutations in the Rab Escort Protein-1 (REP1) encoding CHM gene. CHM is characterized by childhood-onset night blindness (nyctalopia), progressive peripheral vision loss due to the degeneration of neural retina, RPE and choroid in a peripheral-to-central fashion. Most of CHM mutations are loss-of-function mutations leading to the complete lacking of REP1 protein. However, the primary retinal cell type leading to CHM and molecular mechanism remains unknown in addition to the fact of lacking proper disease models. In this study, we explored the utility of induced pluripotent stem ...


Epigenetic Mechanisms Governing Behavioral Reprogramming In The Ant Camponotus Floridanus, Riley John Graham Jan 2018

Epigenetic Mechanisms Governing Behavioral Reprogramming In The Ant Camponotus Floridanus, Riley John Graham

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Eusocial insect colonies divide behaviors among specialist groups called castes. In some species, caste identity is determined by the interaction of endogenous (e.g. genomic) and exogenous (e.g. juvenile hormone from nurses) signals during larval development, suggesting epigenetic mechanisms underlie plastic traits tied to caste identity. Previous work demonstrated a link between patterns of histone H3 lysine 27 acetylation (H3K27ac) and caste-specific gene expression in Major and Minor workers of the ant Camponotus floridanus, and we hypothesized caste-specific behaviors such as foraging may be similarly regulated by histone acetylation. To test this hypothesis, we fed mature (~30d old) Majors ...


Reprogramming The Retina: Next Generation Strategies Of Retinal Neuroprotection And Gene Therapy Vector Potency Assessment, Devin Scott Mcdougald Jan 2018

Reprogramming The Retina: Next Generation Strategies Of Retinal Neuroprotection And Gene Therapy Vector Potency Assessment, Devin Scott Mcdougald

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Mutations within over 250 known genes are associated with inherited retinal degeneration. Clinical success following gene replacement therapy for Leber’s congenital amaurosis type 2 establishes a platform for the development of downstream treatments targeting other forms of inherited and acquired ocular disease. Unfortunately, several challenges relevant to complex disease pathology and limitations of current gene transfer technologies impede the development of gene replacement for each specific form of retinal degeneration. Here we describe gene augmentation strategies mediated by recombinant AAV vectors that impede retinal degeneration in pre-clinical models of acquired and inherited vision loss. We demonstrate distinct neuroprotective effects ...


Chromatin Remodeling Dynamics During Brown Adipogenesis, Suzanne Natalie Shapira Jan 2018

Chromatin Remodeling Dynamics During Brown Adipogenesis, Suzanne Natalie Shapira

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is specialized to expend energy through the action of the mitochondrial uncoupling protein UCP1. Increasing brown fat mass or activity through genetic or chemical manipulation in mice suppresses obesity and its comorbidities; as such, there is great interest in developing approaches to increase the amount and/or function of brown fat to combat metabolic disorders. My thesis work aimed to dissect the molecular mechanisms by which the helix- loop-helix transcription factor Early B-Cell Factor 2 (EBF2) regulates brown adipocyte commitment and terminal differentiation. Through analysis of tissue-specific knockout mouse models, we found that EBF2 is required ...


All The Right Noises: Causes And Consequences Of Stochastic Trimethylamine Oxide Reductase Expression In Escherichia Coli, Jeffrey Carey Jan 2018

All The Right Noises: Causes And Consequences Of Stochastic Trimethylamine Oxide Reductase Expression In Escherichia Coli, Jeffrey Carey

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Microbial populations can maximize fitness in dynamic environments through bet hedging, a process wherein a subpopulation assumes a phenotype not optimally adapted to the present environment but well adapted to an environment likely to be encountered. Here we show that oxygen induces fluctuating expression of the trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) respiratory system of Escherichia coli, diversifying the cell population and enabling a bet-hedging strategy that permits growth following oxygen loss. This regulation by oxygen affects the variance in gene expression but leaves the mean unchanged. We show that the oxygen-sensitive transcription factor IscR is the key regulator of variability. Oxygen causes ...


Wnt5a Signaling Induced Phosphorylation Increases Acyl Protein Thioesterase Activity And Promotes Melanoma Metastatic Behavior, Rochelle Shirin Sadeghi Jan 2018

Wnt5a Signaling Induced Phosphorylation Increases Acyl Protein Thioesterase Activity And Promotes Melanoma Metastatic Behavior, Rochelle Shirin Sadeghi

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Wnt5a has been implicated in melanoma progression and metastasis, although the exact downstream signaling events that contribute to melanoma metastasis are poorly understood. Wnt5a signaling results in acyl protein thioesterase 1 (APT1) mediated depalmitoylation of pro-metastatic cell adhesion molecules CD44 and MCAM, resulting in increased melanoma invasion. The mechanistic details that underlie Wnt5a-mediated regulation of APT1 activity and cellular function remains unknown. Here, we show Wnt5a signaling regulates APT1 activity through induction of APT1 phosphorylation and we further investigate the functional role of APT1 phosphorylation on its depalmitoylating activity. We found phosphorylation increased APT1 depalmitoylating activity and reduced APT1 dimerization ...


Exploring The Role Of Tet1 In Genomic Imprinting, Jennifer Myers Sanmiguel Jan 2018

Exploring The Role Of Tet1 In Genomic Imprinting, Jennifer Myers Sanmiguel

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

DNA methylation is an essential epigenetic mark crucial for normal mammalian development. This modification controls the expression of a unique class of genes, designated as imprinted, which are expressed monoallelically and in a parent-of-origin-specific manner. Proper parental allele-specific DNA methylation at imprinting control regions (ICRs) is necessary for appropriate imprinting. Processes that deregulate DNA methylation of imprinted loci cause disease in humans. DNA methylation patterns dramatically change during mammalian development: first, the majority of the genome, with the exception of ICRs, is demethylated after fertilization, and subsequently undergoes genome-wide de novo DNA methylation. Secondly, after primordial germ cells are specified ...


Gene Therapy Approaches To Immune Tolerance Induction In Canine Hemophilia, Robert French Jan 2018

Gene Therapy Approaches To Immune Tolerance Induction In Canine Hemophilia, Robert French

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

A key issue in gene therapy is the immune response to the therapeutic transgene. This is especially important in applications where current treatments often elicit an antibody response, like hemophilia, where protein replacement therapy results in neutralizing

antibodies (“inhibitors”) in ~25% of severe hemophilia A and 1-3% of severe hemophilia B patients. To test the ability of skeletal muscle-directed gene therapy to prevent an immune response, we used an inhibitor-prone dog model of severe hemophilia B to express a hyperactive factor IX (FIX) variant from skeletal muscle via adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector and observed curative levels of expression that lasted ...


Β Cell Replacement Therapy: A Novel Application For Targeted Epigenetic Editing, Kristy Ou Jan 2018

Β Cell Replacement Therapy: A Novel Application For Targeted Epigenetic Editing, Kristy Ou

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Pancreatic β cells are the exclusive source of insulin, which normalizes blood glucose levels under hyperglycemic conditions. In 2015, over 252,000 deaths in the United States were contributed by diabetes, a family of disorders directly linked to defects in the pancreatic β cells. β cell deficiency or dysfunction leads to insufficient insulin secretion, resulting in chronic hyperglycemia and increased risk for severe health complications. Although severely diabetic patients can clinically manage their glucose levels with mealtime delivery of insulin analogues, many still experience potentially life-threatening hypoglycemic episodes due to erroneous insulin administration. Only β cell replacement therapy, through the ...


The Role Of Molecular Motors In Peripheral Nerve Regeneration, Melissa D. Priest Jan 2018

The Role Of Molecular Motors In Peripheral Nerve Regeneration, Melissa D. Priest

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Following injury, axons of the peripheral nervous system have retained the capacity for regeneration. While it is well established that injury signals require molecular motors for their transport from the injury site to the nucleus, whether kinesin and dynein motors play additional roles in peripheral nerve regeneration is not well understood. Here we use genetic mutants of motor proteins in a zebrafish peripheral nerve regeneration model to visualize and define in vivo roles for kinesin and dynein. We find that both kinesin-1 and dynein are required for zebrafish peripheral nerve regeneration. While loss of kinesin-1 reduced the overall robustness of ...


Discovering Novel Hearing Loss Genes: Roles For Esrp1 And Gas2 In Inner Ear Development And Auditory Function, Alex Martin Rohacek Jan 2018

Discovering Novel Hearing Loss Genes: Roles For Esrp1 And Gas2 In Inner Ear Development And Auditory Function, Alex Martin Rohacek

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Hearing loss is the most common form of congenital birth defect, affecting an estimated

35 million children worldwide. To date, nearly 100 genes have been identified which

contribute to a deafness phenotype in humans, however, many cases remain in which a

causative mutation has yet to be found. In addition, the exact mechanism by which

hearing loss occurs in the presence of many of these mutations is still not understood.

This is due, in part, to the complex nature of the development and function of the

cochlear duct, the organ of hearing. The cochlea undergoes an intricate morphogenetic

development and ...


Nonclassical Sex Hormone Signaling In Melanocytes And Melanoma, Christopher Anthony Natale Jan 2018

Nonclassical Sex Hormone Signaling In Melanocytes And Melanoma, Christopher Anthony Natale

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

The primary pigment in mammalian skin and hair is melanin, which is synthesized locally by differentiated melanocytes and transferred into surrounding epidermal keratinocytes and hair shafts. Because pigmentation differences are often readily visible clinically, melanocyte function is known to correlate with changes in environment, as well as physiologic and pathologic changes in other organ systems. We utilized these clinical associations to inspire the hypothesis that sex hormones influence melanocyte biology. For over 2,000 years, it has been appreciated that pregnancy is associated with changes in skin pigmentation, but the specific processes, hormones, receptors, and downstream signaling cascades responsible have ...


Investigating Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Mild Phenotype In Friedreich Ataxia Patients With G130v Missense Mutation, Elisia Clark Jan 2018

Investigating Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Mild Phenotype In Friedreich Ataxia Patients With G130v Missense Mutation, Elisia Clark

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Friedreich’s Ataxia (FRDA) is an incurable neurodegenerative disease caused by mutations in the frataxin (FXN) gene, resulting in decreased expression of the mitochondrial protein FXN. 2-3% of FRDA patients carry a GAA expansion on one FXN allele, and a missense mutation on the other. The mechanism behind the disease‐causing features remains elusive. The phenotype associated with patients carrying point mutations cannot be predicted with certainty; these patients can have a mild or severe clinical outcome, creating a unique platform to understand clinical heterogeneity. FXN is important for proper mitochondrial function, and is involved in Fe-S cluster biogenesis, metabolism ...


Decoding Calcium Encoding Through Bi-Directional Optogenetic Control Over Gq-Protein Signaling, Pimkhuan Hannanta-Anan Jan 2018

Decoding Calcium Encoding Through Bi-Directional Optogenetic Control Over Gq-Protein Signaling, Pimkhuan Hannanta-Anan

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Calcium is a fundamental secondary messenger responsible for relaying information from the extracellular space to the cell interior. Extracellular cues are temporally encoded through calcium signals, which often arise in the form of oscillations. These oscillations are then decoded to inform cellular decisions and regulate cellular functions. Despite its crucial role in cell signaling, the encoding and decoding of calcium oscillations is poorly understood. The current biological tools and methods used to study calcium signaling lack the temporal precision and specificity necessary to precisely manipulate, perturb, and dissect calcium signaling circuits. To address this need, we developed a new set ...