Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE)
Venue 2: RH 203
Gabriella Rutherford, Sophia Zhang
Lab: Systems Proteomics Lab
Faculty: Dr. Christine Vogel
Mentor: Dr. Gustavo Monteiro Silva, Wei Wei
Time: 10:00 am – 10:14 am
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the biological molecule that carries genetic information, but proteins are molecules responsible for performing the majority of cellular functions. Inside cells, many proteins can be modified to change their course; protein ubiquitination is a widespread modification involved in regulating protein degradation, protein synthesis, DNA repair, and more. Using a variety of biochemical and genetic approaches, this project investigates the relationship between protein ubiquitination and the control of cell division, which is an essential feature in understanding tumor development.
Mobile Application for Stroke Rehabilitation: An increasingly aging society and consequently rising number of patients with post stroke-related neurological dysfunctions are forcing the rehabilitation ﬁeld to adapt to ever-growing demands. As a part of the Mechatronics Lab and Controls Laboratory, we will be developing a mobile application for Stroke Rehabilitation. This project utilizes sensors already embedded in mobile phones to sense arm motion. This application will enable haptic and auditory feedback at calculated intervals that will help patients rehabilitate faster. Future enhancements will involve streaming data over the internet to clinics for monitoring rehabilitation.
Studies of the role of individual zinc fingers in the Drosophila transcription factor Zelda: Zinc finger (ZF) containing proteins are the most abundant transcriptional regulators in metazoans. ZF proteins recognize specific sequences in DNA through a small peptide motif of about 30 amino acids – “zinc finger”. Each ZF recognizes specifically 3-4 adjacent nucleotides in double-stranded DNA, but in many proteins containing multiple ZFs, not all ZFs are involved in DNA recognition. Zelda is a transcriptional activator of the early zygotic genome in Drosophila. It is a large protein of 1609 amino acids that contains six ZFs. Zelda recognizes and binds to a consensus 7 base pairs (bp) sequence called the TAG-team site: 5’C/TAGGC/TAG/A 3’. Theoretically, two ZFs should be sufficient for recognition of the TAG-team site, therefore important questions about the mechanism of Zelda binding to DNA are: which ZFs are involved in recognition of DNA and could different combinations of ZFs recognize different binding sites. To address these questions, this project will use a DNA-protein interaction assay. The assay will compare binding to DNA of recombinant Zelda proteins with mutagenized ZFs and wild type Zelda protein. The strength of binding will be determined from the affinity binding constants of the interactions. The project is a part of a broad study with an aim to understand mechanistically Zelda function and in general the role of multiple ZFs in transcription.
Polymer syntactic foams are light-weight porous composites that are widely used in marine and aerospace applications. In this project, the polymer syntactic foams are fabricated by dispersing glass microballoons in an epoxy matrix material. These syntactic foams will be used as core materials in fabricating sandwich composites, which will be tested for impact properties using a drop weight impact tester. The damage profile in the specimens will be developed using ultrasonic imaging. The damage will be correlated with the impact energy.
Proper levels of chromosome recombination are crucial for efficient chromosome inheritance during the formation of egg and sperm (meiosis) in humans. Consequently, errors in recombination are a significant cause of infertility, spontaneous abortions and birth defects like Down syndrome. We are continuing a mutagenesis screen to identify novel genes/mutations that influence chromosome recombination using budding yeast as a model organism. As many meiotic factors have conserved roles in yeast and humans, mutations isolated in this screen will directly impact our understanding of recombination, chromosome inheritance and infertility in humans.
Zelda is a gene that plays a key role in Drosophila development. It is expressed in early embryos and activates several genes crucial for early development. Without zelda embryos die within the first few hours. Zelda is also expressed in the nervous system of older embryos, and in neural stem cells in the larval and adult brain. To understand how zelda comes to be expressed at these times across different developmental stages, we are testing genomic DNA around the zelda gene for the ability to enhance the transcription of genes. Eight putative “enhancer” regions will be tested. To test these regions, DNA located upstream of the transcription start site and in introns, where enhancers typically reside, were fused to the yellow reporter gene and inserted into the Drosophila genome by injection (previously prepared). Embryos from each transgenic line will be assayed for reporter transcription by in situ hybridization. We will compare the expression patterns to zelda endogenous expression to determine whether the lines have enhancer activity.
Lightweight iron matrix composites: Iron and its alloys can be found in many engineering applications but their high density is a limitation. An innovative method of reducing density is to fill hollow particles in the iron matrix material. These composites called “syntactic foam” are promising as light-weight materials for use in the automotive sector. In this research, improving the strength of as-cast iron syntactic foam after heat treatment is investigated. The heat treated specimens will be tested for compressive properties. In addition, extensive microstructural evaluation will be conducted on the specimens.
Transcription factors can activate different target genes by binding to specific binding sites in regulatory elements. Transcription factors can also activate the same target genes in different tissues or activate new sets of genes. Zelda is a transcription factor in Drosophila that activates target genes by binding to TAG motif related sites and acts as a major hub in the expression network in the early embryo. At the larval stage, the Zelda transcript, zld, is expressed in the neural stem cells in the larval brain and maintains them. We will analyze genes expressed in neural stem cells in the brain, and verify whether those genes are regulated by zld.
Through the combined use of mobile phones, microcontrollers, inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors, and more, we will fully process and map natural human arm motion. We aim to provide stroke patients suffering hemiparesis an interactive and engaging way to provide doctors data, which we will visualize and present through our software. Our project consists of three main components: Data collection, data visualization, and device communication. Data collection encompasses the mechanical development of our hand sensor system which will help collect the more fine movements of the patient’s hands, and the larger movement of the patient’s full arm. Data visualization includes the software (game/app) which the patients will interact with in order to provide the necessary data, and the translation of the patient’s real world movements into the digital world. Device communication is the reading and streaming of data from our various sensors. We will compare the patient’s healthy and affected arms, in order to provide a comparison that will elaborate on the severity and effects of the hemiparesis. We will work to create an integrated and modular system which can be easily used and beneficial to the rehabilitation of stroke patients with hemiparesis.