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  • Undergraduate Poster Abstracts
  • Biology (General)

    THU-656 SCHISTOSOMA MANSONI SM-P80 VACCINE CONFERS CROSS-SPECIES PROTECTION AGAINST SCHISTOSOMA JAPONICUM IN MICE

    • Karlie Herrera ;
    • Adebayo Molehin ;
    • Weidong Zhang ;
    • Juan Rojo ;
    • Souvik Karmakar ;
    • Zulfazal Ahmed ;
    • Afzal Siddiqui ;

    THU-656

    SCHISTOSOMA MANSONI SM-P80 VACCINE CONFERS CROSS-SPECIES PROTECTION AGAINST SCHISTOSOMA JAPONICUM IN MICE

    Karlie Herrera1, Adebayo Molehin2, Weidong Zhang2, Juan Rojo2, Souvik Karmakar2, Zulfazal Ahmed2, Afzal Siddiqui2.

    1Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, 2Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX.

    Schistosomiasis remains a major global health problem. Despite large-scale schistosomiasis control efforts, clear limitations such as re-infection rates and emergence of drug resistance necessitate the development of an effective anti-schistosomal vaccine. Schistosoma mansoni antigen Sm-p80 is a protein known to be involved in host immune modulation or evasion by schistosomes because of its involvement in schistosome membrane renewal. Our previous Sm-p80-based vaccination studies have consistently shown high levels of protection against S. mansoni and S. haematobium infections in various animal models. We therefore hypothesize that induction of specific host immune response through Sm-p80-based vaccination would provide an opportunity to control Asiatic schistosomiasis caused by S. japonicum infections. Specific IgG antibodies, total IgG, IgG2a, IgG2b, IgG2c, IgG3, IgA, and IgM, with significant high titers as determined by ELISA, were present in sera of mice immunized with recombinant Sm-p80 admixed with glucopyranosyl lipid adjuvant-stable emulsion (GLA-SE) when compared to controls. Recombinant Sm-p80 used for vaccination was expressed in Escherichia coli and affinity purified. Significant reduction in worm burden (28%) and in tissue egg load (17%) was observed in vaccinated mice when compared to the controls. These data on cross-species protection in addition to our previously published prophylactic, therapeutic, and anti-fecundity efficacy against the homologous parasite, S. mansoni, reinforces Sm-p80 as a promising vaccine that will provide relief for both intestinal and urinary schistosomiasis, thereby reducing the overall global burden of schistosomiasis. Sm-p80 vaccine is currently being prepared for GMP-compliant manufacture and for further pre-clinical development leading to human clinical trials.

    THU-658 DIETARY OPTIMIZATION STUDY FOR PHYSA ACUTA, A TOXICOLOGY TESTING SPECIMEN

    • Michael Adair ;
    • Jason Belden ;

    THU-658

    DIETARY OPTIMIZATION STUDY FOR PHYSA ACUTA, A TOXICOLOGY TESTING SPECIMEN

    Michael Adair, Jason Belden.

    Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK.

    The pulmonate snail, Physa acuta (P. acuta), is a potential test species for ecotoxicology testing because of its sensitivity to environmental contaminants, ubiquity throughout nature, and ease of maintenance in the laboratory. Optimizing their diet under toxicity testing conditions to maximize their growth and fitness will allow for more sensitive toxicity assays. In this study, we tested 6 food treatments; algae, lettuce, spirulina, Tetraman, plus combinations of Tetraman/spirulina, and Tetraman/broccoli. Experimental units consisted of P. acuta, (n = 8) within a length range of 1.0 to 2.0 mm, in 600 ml moderate hard water. Three replicates were constructed for each dietary treatment. Treatments were fed daily suspensions ranging from 5.4 to 18.0 mg/ml, based on size, to achieve an ab libitum food supply. In 7-day increments, over a 5 week period, length was collected via digital microscope and measured with ImageJ software. Reproduction was noted by egg mass presence, and mortality rate was recorded. Preliminary results indicate that the largest average length increase during the first 14 d was in the Tetraman/spirulina treatment, and the highest reproduction level was tied between Tetraman and Tetraman/spirulina treatments with 16 egg masses each. Our future direction will focus on optimizing the amount of food necessary for maximum growth and fecundity. After the P. acuta diet is optimized to satisfaction, toxicology assays will proceed with the introduction of environmental contaminants including metals and pesticides.

    FRI-643 THE ROLE OF THE WNT/WNGLESS PATHWAY IN THE DROSOPHILA RESPONSE TO DEVELOPMENTAL ETHANOL EXPOSURE

    • Gerardo AguiÒaga Torres Jr. ;
    • Rachael French ;
    • Sabrina Lopez ;

    FRI-643

    THE ROLE OF THE WNT/WNGLESS PATHWAY IN THE DROSOPHILA RESPONSE TO DEVELOPMENTAL ETHANOL EXPOSURE

    Gerardo AguiÒaga Torres Jr.1, Rachael French2, Sabrina Lopez2.

    1Mountain View College, Dallas, TX, 2San Jose State University, San Jose, CA.

    Developmental alcohol exposure (DAE) causes an array of physiological and behavioral abnormalities including developmental delay, decreased survival, and permanent neurobehavioral abnormalities. These symptoms are collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). We have established Drosophila melanogaster as a model for investigating the effects of ethanol exposure. By understanding how ethanol exposure alters gene expression and interacts with cell signaling pathways, we may begin to formulate treatments for the symptoms of FASD as well as to prevent those same symptoms in utero. We have previously shown that genes in the Wnt pathway are ethanol targets. Our goal is to determine how this pathway mediates DAE. We will approach this question in two ways: First, we will determine how mutations in the Wnt pathway genes fz-2, drl-2, APC-2, and sgg alter the growth and survival of flies reared in ethanol. Based on previous results, we predict that mutations reducing Wnt signaling (fz-2 and drl-2) will cause reduced survival, while mutations increasing Wnt signaling (APC-2 and sgg) will cause increased survival. Second, we will use quantitative RT-PCR to determine the effect of ethanol exposure on expression of these genes. We predict that ethanol exposure will reduce expression of fz-2 and drl-2 while increasing expression of APC-2 and sgg. The results from our experiments will prove vital for the understanding of FASD and for the generation of methods for prenatal treatment and prevention.

    THU-659 TESTING KINESINS 4 THROUGH 14

    • Abyan Mama-Farah ;
    • Inna Djagaeva ;
    • Bill Saxton ;

    THU-659

    TESTING KINESINS 4 THROUGH 14

    Abyan Mama-Farah, Inna Djagaeva, Bill Saxton.

    University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA.

    Understanding how cells move, organize, and distribute the organelles containing the building blocks of life is one of the fundamental goals of cellular biology. Our project studies the mechanisms driving intracellular and cytoplasmic organization in vivo using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. The focus is on motor proteins in the kinesin superfamily and their roles in long distance axonal transport. While kinesins 1 and 3 have been shown to be involved, it is unclear whether any of the other kinesins (4-14) are involved. We attempted to answer this question using real-time imaging of live larva through the body wall. We employed the UAS/GAL4 system that allows precise control over spatial and temporal expression of specific transgenes. Flies containing a motor neuron specific driver (OK6-GAL4) and a responder (UAS-ANF-GFP) were crossed with UAS-RNAi transgenic flies. These crosses produced progeny containing fluorescent-protein tagged dense core vesicles in a subset of tissues while also expressing short hairpin RNA (shRNA). The shRNA knock down the function of the specific kinesin in motor neurons only and thus allowed us to test for genes essential in early fly development. By imaging larvae with confocal microscopy, the movement of organelles can be recorded and analyzed for differences in flux and velocity. The same animals are also examined for the presence of focal accumulations and distal paralysis. With further imaging and investigation, we hope to answer the broader question of what role the less studied kinesins play in long distance axonal transport of various organelles.

    THU-657 IDENTIFICATION OF SNP DATA FROM DIFFERENT E. VAGINATUM POPULATIONS USING BIOINFORMATICS

    • Armando Lerma ;
    • Jonathon Mohl ;
    • Ming-Ying Leung ;
    • Michael Moody ;

    THU-657

    IDENTIFICATION OF SNP DATA FROM DIFFERENT E. VAGINATUM POPULATIONS USING BIOINFORMATICS

    Armando Lerma, Jonathon Mohl, Ming-Ying Leung, Michael Moody.

    The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX.

    Eriophorum vaginatum is an ecologically important Arctic plant lineage, and it serves as a model for understanding home site advantage in light of climate change. Ecophysiological research has recognized distinct ecotypes from the north and south of its range in Alaska; analysis of its genetic structure can help to predict how these populations will respond to climate change. This research employs double-digest restriction-associated DNA (RAD) sequencing, a next generation sequencing technique, to identify single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data for distinguishing the ecotypes at the genetic level and ultimately levels of gene flow among populations. In a preliminary analysis, a script was written in Python computer language to create a workflow that filtered, processed, and analyzed the RAD sequence data using different programs (FASTX, STACKS). Subsequently, a tree-building program, Geneious, was used to evaluate genetic variation, structure, and relatedness between ecotypes. After completing the analysis, a significant number of SNPs were identified, and neighbor-joining trees allowed us to observe an expected north/south split. The resolution suggested that inclusion of more loci may be more important than using only loci with high sample coverage for an increased resolution. A variant call format (VCF) file was produced containing genotype information on each sample. By parsing and manipulating this file, we will be able to identify specific SNPs that varied among the different populations for further analysis.

    THU-652 EXAMINING THE EFFECTS OF THE ANTI-PHOSPHOLIPID ANTIBODY ON MICRORNA REGULATION OF TISSUE FACTOR IN BREAST CANCER TUMOR PROGRESSION

    • Irene Sun ;
    • Andrew Nguyen ;

    THU-652

    EXAMINING THE EFFECTS OF THE ANTI-PHOSPHOLIPID ANTIBODY ON MICRORNA REGULATION OF TISSUE FACTOR IN BREAST CANCER TUMOR PROGRESSION

    Irene Sun, Andrew Nguyen.

    Queensborough Community College, Bayside, NY.

    Tissue factor (TF), a transmembrane glycoprotein known originally as the initiator of blood coagulation cascade, was recently shown to be involved in cell signaling and angiogenesis. Furthermore, the activation of the TF signaling pathway has been linked to many types of tumors including breast cancer. The mechanism by which TF is up regulated during tumor progression is not well known. We have recently demonstrated that anti-phospholipid antibody (aPL) stimulates TF expression in less aggressive tumor cell lines. In our examination of the mechanism by which aPL stimulation leads to TF up regulation, we have focused on microRNAs (miRs). Our preliminary data showed that miR106b was highly expressed in a more dormant cell line, MDA-MB-468, compared to a highly invasive cell line, MDA-MB-231. This coincided with lower expression of TF in MDA-MB-468 relative to MDA-MB-231 suggesting that miR106b is regulating TF in these cells. MDA-MB-468 treated with miR106b inhibitor showed a release of inhibition and, thus, an increase of TF expression. We are currently evaluating the effects of aPL treatment on miR106b expression in both MDA-MB-468 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines. We hypothesize that aPL antibody treatment can transform MDA-MB-468 dormant cells to become malignant via increased TF expression by down regulating miR106b.

    FRI-656 THERMAL TOLERANCE OF AMPHIBIANS FOUND IN PRIMARY AND SECONDARY FORESTS OF LA SELVA, COSTA RICA

    • Elva Manquera ;
    • Steven Whitfield ;

    FRI-656

    THERMAL TOLERANCE OF AMPHIBIANS FOUND IN PRIMARY AND SECONDARY FORESTS OF LA SELVA, COSTA RICA

    Elva Manquera1, Steven Whitfield2.

    1Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, 2Zoo Miami, Miami, FL.

    Amphibians globally are currently one of the most threatened vertebrate groups. These threats range from pollution and habitat loss to emerging infectious diseases and global warming. To better understand how global warming affects amphibians, we examined the maximum temperature at which amphibians can function (critical thermal maximum, or CTmax). Our focal organisms were 4 rainforest frog species found at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica: Eleutherodactylus brandsfordii, Oophaga pumilio, Craugastor megacephalus, and Craugastor mimus. We hypothesized that the CTmax would be higher for populations found in secondary forests than for populations found in primary forests, because the forest types vary in the amount of sunlight and differ in vegetation. Specimens were collected in both forest types and, following capture, the substrate (forest floor) temperature was measured with an infrared temperature gun. In the lab, each individual was placed on its back in a gradually heating water bath, and the temperature at which it could not right itself was recorded as CTmax. Our data showed no significant difference in CTmax between populations found in primary and secondary forests with a p-value of 0.1503, but there was significant findings between CTmax and species with a p-value of 1.449e-07. The substrate temperature had no significant difference between primary and secondary forests, with a p-value of 0.8123.This suggests that amphibian species will react differently to climate change, but it also suggests that amphibians will be effected the same amount in both primary and secondary forests.

    FRI-657 IGNORANT SEED PREDATORS: A MANIPULATIVE EXPERIMENT EXPLORING THE MECHANISMS OF SEED KLEPTO-PARASITISM BY TWO MAMMAL SPECIES AND THEIR EFFECTS ON SEEDLING SURVIVAL

    • Kimberly Hamilton ;
    • Erin Kuprewicz ;

    FRI-657

    IGNORANT SEED PREDATORS: A MANIPULATIVE EXPERIMENT EXPLORING THE MECHANISMS OF SEED KLEPTO-PARASITISM BY TWO MAMMAL SPECIES AND THEIR EFFECTS ON SEEDLING SURVIVAL

    Kimberly Hamilton1, Erin Kuprewicz2.

    1California State University, Stanislaus, Turlock, CA, 2National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

    Granivorous mammals are abundant within some lowland tropical forests and can have profound effects upon local plant communities. Seed detection is an important yet understudied aspect of animal behavior. This study examines the potential mechanisms of seed detection by ignorant seed predators—predators that have no previous knowledge of a buried seed’s location. Using artificial seedlings and Iriartea deltoidea seeds, we explored how Central American agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata) and collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu) locate underground seeds—we predicted that animals might use a combination of visual and olfactory cues. We set out 224 artificial seedlings (visual cues) with and without seeds (scent cues) within and outside semi-permeable exclosures in the primary forest of La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica. Exclosures allowed agouti entrance, excluding peccaries, whereas seedlings and seeds outside of exclosures were accessible to all mammals. We tracked seed and seedling mortality of 6 different treatment types: mature seedling/seed; mature seedling/no seed; young seedling/seed; young seedling/no seed; hoard; and sham burial. We found that there was not any agouti activity after 35 days and only a small amount of peccary activity after the same amount of time—14 interactions with seeds and seedlings. We found no significant difference between peccaries foraging on seeds with and without artificial seedlings, indicating that peccaries use a combination of visual and olfactory cues to detect hidden seeds. This study shows that peccaries have a larger negative effect on seedling survival compared to agoutis and this may scale up to affect forest community dynamics.

    THU-650 THE INFLUENCE OF ASCLEPIAS SYRIACA (COMMON MILKWEED) FLOWER PIGMENTATION ON FLORAL-VISITOR BEHAVIOR AND POLLINATION

    • Karen Segura ;
    • Aaron Howard ;

    THU-650

    THE INFLUENCE OF ASCLEPIAS SYRIACA (COMMON MILKWEED) FLOWER PIGMENTATION ON FLORAL-VISITOR BEHAVIOR AND POLLINATION

    Karen Segura, Aaron Howard.

    Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL.

    Many flowering plants require vectors for reproducing via pollination, which occurs when a vector, or flower visitor, transports pollen from one flower to another. Therefore, understanding how floral traits influence vector-mediated pollen movement is essential for understanding plant reproductive success. Flower pigmentation is a floral trait known to influence various aspects of pollination including the type of flower visitor and its behavior. While previous studies indicate that flower pigmentation influences the amount of pollen removed and deposited in Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed), no study has quantified how flower pigmentation influences the behavior of vectors and pollen transport in this plant. In this study, we investigated the influence of A. syriaca flower pigmentation on visitor behavior and pollen movement. To do this, we quantified the behavior of visitors to the flowers of A. syriaca plants located in the swamp white oak savanna on the campus of Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, IL, and then we collected flowers from the visited plants to estimate pigment (anthocyanin) concentration and pollen deposition and removal. Our results indicate that the number of visitors decreased as pigment concentration increased, and that there was a positive relationship between the number of visitors and the amount of pollen deposited and removed. The higher visitation rate and pollen movement for low pigment flowers may be due to their greater abundance in our population than high pigment flowers and are consistent with previous studies that found bumblebees have a distinct preference for flowers with lower pigment concentrations.

    FRI-654 BURROWING PERFORMANCE OF PACIFIC SAND CRABS (EMERITA ANALOGA) IN SUBSTRATA OF VARIOUS SIZES

    • Stacy Schkoda ;
    • Joseph Gamez ;
    • Austin Xu ;
    • Nathan Vega ;
    • Jordan Abney ;
    • William Hoese ;
    • Erin Misty Paig-Tran ;

    FRI-654

    BURROWING PERFORMANCE OF PACIFIC SAND CRABS (EMERITA ANALOGA) IN SUBSTRATA OF VARIOUS SIZES

    Stacy Schkoda, Joseph Gamez, Austin Xu, Nathan Vega, Jordan Abney, William Hoese, Erin Misty Paig-Tran.

    California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA.

    Pacific sand crabs (Emerita analoga) rely on burrowing to maintain position within the swash zone and to avoid exposure to predators, yet must remain near the surface to respire and filter-feed. We hypothesized burrowing efficiency is related to 1) body size to substrata ratio, and 2) penetrability of the substratum (a measure of how displaceable sand grains are). We collected sand from 6 tidal depths and measured grain size composition within each aliquot. We measured burrowing performance (the ability to burrow) and time to burrow (body lengths/second) in 6 substrata categories ranging from fine grain (0.05 – 0.3mm) to shell (> 4mm), in N = 15 small (8mm – 15mm) and N = 17 large (longer than 15mm) crabs using high-speed video (600 FPS). We recorded a minimum of three burrowing trials per size class for each substratum category, and each crab was used once (N = 32 separate burrowing trials). We used particle image velocimetry (PIV) to test whether crabs fluidized the substrata while burrowing; however, only large crabs were capable of this. Burrowing performance was significantly different between small and large crabs across all substrata (p < 0.001); time to burrow (bl/s) was different among substratum (p = 0.008). Small crabs’ burrowing performance peaked in fine sediment (0.3 – 0.7mm), while larger crabs peaked in mid-range size sediment (0.7 – 1mm). Substratum penetrability was significantly different among all substrata types (p < 0.001). Large crabs are true burrowing generalists, while small crabs are constrained to smaller grain sizes.

    FRI-651 SELECTIVE DEGENERATION OF DOPAMINERGIC NEURONS IN DROSOPHILA MODELS OF PARKINSON'S DISEASE

    • Kiara Andrades ;
    • Mehmet Enes Inam ;
    • Antonio Tito Jr. ;
    • Sheng Zhang ;
    • Hugo Bellen ;
    • Shebna Cheema ;

    FRI-651

    SELECTIVE DEGENERATION OF DOPAMINERGIC NEURONS IN DROSOPHILA MODELS OF PARKINSON'S DISEASE

    Kiara Andrades1, Mehmet Enes Inam1, Antonio Tito Jr.2, Sheng Zhang2, Hugo Bellen3, Shebna Cheema1.

    1University of Houston Downtown, Houston, TX, 2University of Texas-Health Science Center Houston, TX, 3Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

    Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder that is caused by the degeneration of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra of the mesencephalon. The cause of degeneration of dopamine neurons is still unknown. We utilized Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism due to its low cost and unlimited number of test subjects. The homologs for these genes in Drosophila do not contribute to age-dependent neural degeneration. In Drosophila, PARK2 is involved in removing dysfunctional proteins and directing them to the proteasome system for further degradation. Parkin mutation in Drosophila leads to the disruption of mitochondria, which cause the accumulation of toxic-free reactive oxygen species (ROS). Parkin mutation along with wildtype were used to determine changes in the number of dopaminergic neurons of the aging adult brains of Drosophila. Results show no remarkable changes in the number of DA neurons due to aging. Thus, we further determined the non-autonomous contribution of glial cells in the viability of dopamine neurons. As a spontaneously toxic molecule, DA is protected from auto-oxidation by β-alanine insertion mediated by ebony in the glial cells. Thus, a fly line containing parkin and ebony recombination was generated. This study provides the first insight into the role of glial cells in the viability of dopamine neurons in a genetic model of Parkinson’s disease.

    THU-651 IMPLEMENTING A GAP TECHNIQUE TO OBSERVE WHITE ROT AND DECOMPOSITION DURING A DROUGHT IN EL YUNQUE NATIONAL FOREST, PUERTO RICO

    • Karina Escobar ;
    • Sharon Cantrell ;

    THU-651

    IMPLEMENTING A GAP TECHNIQUE TO OBSERVE WHITE ROT AND DECOMPOSITION DURING A DROUGHT IN EL YUNQUE NATIONAL FOREST, PUERTO RICO

    Karina Escobar1, Sharon Cantrell2.

    1Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT, 2University of Turabo, Gurabo, PR.

    Microbial and macrofungal processes such as decomposition and nutrient cycling are vital to an ecosystem’s potential for growth and its ability to recover following a disturbance. As the increasing frequency of tropical storms and droughts make the need for recovery more commonplace, it is especially important to understand these processes. Unlike other fungi, white-rot fungi contain enzymes that deteriorate the tougher, recalcitrant components of leaf litter, known as lignin. This creates smaller fragments of litter that can then be recruited by non-ligninolytic fungi. To further investigate white rot’s ability to accelerate decomposition, we implemented a gap technique that isolated leaf litter samples from white-rot mats. Samples were oven-dried to calculate percent mass loss, PRS (plant root simulator) probes were placed to monitor the levels of anionic nutrients, PCR product was amplified from sampled DNA, and TRFLP analyses were constructed. All of this data was implemented to make comparisons between gap and contact samples. We found that there was a significant difference between hyphal connections found in the gap and contact samples. We also found that the drought, with conditions ranging from moderately dry to extremely dry during the study, stalled normal white-rot decomposition and nutrient displacement. This provided insight on the effects such a disturbance has on the very communities and processes that the ecosystem relies on to recover again. It was determined that the gap technique is a reliable way in which white-rot fungi could continue to be investigated in the future.

    FRI-653 V-ATPASE FEEDBACK REGULATION OF GLYCOLYTIC ENZYMES IN BREAST TUMOR CELL LINES VIA HIF-1A

    • Tyler Northrup ;
    • Colleen Fordyce ;

    FRI-653

    V-ATPASE FEEDBACK REGULATION OF GLYCOLYTIC ENZYMES IN BREAST TUMOR CELL LINES VIA HIF-1A

    Tyler Northrup1, Colleen Fordyce2.

    1Carroll College, Helena, MT, 2The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.

    Vacuolar-ATPase (V-ATPase) is an ATP-dependent proton pump that generates and sustains proton gradients throughout the endomembrane system thereby contributing to important cell functions. V-ATPase is frequently up regulated in tumors and tumor cell lines where it contributes to tumorigenic phenotypes, including the Warburg effect (i.e., the phenomenon where glycolysis is preferred over oxidative phosphorylation). It is well documented that V-ATPase activity is regulated by glucose concentration, glycolytic enzymes, and ATP levels. Given the preference of tumor cells for glycolysis we reasoned that they may be an ideal model to study the effects of V-ATPase inhibition on glycolytic metabolism. Exposure to V-ATPase-specific inhibitors, concanamycin A (CCA) or bafilomycin A (Baf), increases expression of several glycolytic enzymes in breast tumor cell lines. Studies using the transcription-inhibitor, actinomycin D, suggest that the induction of glycolytic genes observed when V-ATPase is inhibited is dependent on increased transcription. Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1α) is a transcriptional inducer of many glycolytic genes and increases transport of glucose into cells. HIF-1α is induced by V-ATPase inhibition and is sufficient to induce transcription of glycolytic genes. Collectively, our data suggest a feedback loop between V-ATPase and glycolytic metabolism in tumor cells. Future experiments will test if HIF-1α is necessary for V-ATPase-dependent increase of glycolytic gene transcription in tumor cells and evaluate the relationship between V-ATPase and glycolytic metabolism in normal breast cells. These studies may help identify the mechanism of anti-HIF-1α chemotherapeutics and may justify the use of V-ATPase inhibitors as novel or adjuvant chemotherapeutics.

    THU-653 PROTEIN EXPRESSION VARIATION BETWEEN PAPILLARY AND GLANDULAR ESTROGEN RECEPTOR ALPHA POSITIVE MAMMARY CARCINOMAS

    • Pha Tran ;
    • Michael Shea ;
    • Linda Schuler ;

    THU-653

    PROTEIN EXPRESSION VARIATION BETWEEN PAPILLARY AND GLANDULAR ESTROGEN RECEPTOR ALPHA POSITIVE MAMMARY CARCINOMAS

    Pha Tran1, Michael Shea2, Linda Schuler2.

    1California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, CA, 2University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.

    Endogenously elevated prolactin is associated with an increased risk of estrogen receptor alpha positive (ERα+) mammary carcinomas. Unfortunately, the resistance rate to treatments is about 25%, which suggests that molecular characteristics of ERα+ mammary tumors should be further addressed to improve patients’ survival. Understanding that, we developed the neu-related lipocalin-prolactin (NRL-PRL) mouse model using prolactin as a tool to produce ERα+ mammary tumors. Our study focuses on 2 common histotypes: papillary and glandular tumors, in which we examined protein expression of progesterone receptor (PR), cytokeratin 8 (K8), cytokeratin 5 (K5), and Ki67. The protein expressions are important molecular biomarkers of survival or resistance prediction. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining was performed for ERα expression and histological subtypes. The identified ERα+ papillary and glandular sections were further stained for expression of K8, K5, Ki67, and PR. Our results indicated no difference in expression of ER, PR, and K5 in both subtypes. However, there were trend differences in K8 and Ki67 expression. The subtypes were both positive to K8 but the glandular tumor was slightly more positive than the papillary tumor. Ki67 was positive in the papillary but negative in the glandular tumor, which might imply that the papillary tumor was more proliferative and aggressive than the glandular tumor. In the future, the experiments should be replicated on different tumors for more significant results. Moreover, further understanding of various prognostic markers will assist in breast cancer survival prediction. Hence, it will be helpful in individualizing novel treatment approaches.

    FRI-659 ISOLATION AND CHARACTERIZATION OF AGARASE PRODUCING BACTERIA FROM TROPICAL WATERS OF PUERTO RICO

    • Natalia Maldonado ;
    • Edwin Vazquez ;

    FRI-659

    ISOLATION AND CHARACTERIZATION OF AGARASE PRODUCING BACTERIA FROM TROPICAL WATERS OF PUERTO RICO

    Natalia Maldonado, Edwin Vazquez.

    University of Puerto Rico in Cayey, Cayey, PR.

    There are currently several agarase-producing bacterial species that have been identified, mainly from marine water but some from freshwater and soil. Agarase is an enzyme responsible for the hydrolysis of agar as their primary source of carbon. Some agarases have been isolated and used in various research applications while others have been used for agar-derived oligosaccharide production. We report on the first isolated agarase-producing bacteria from tropical marine waters in Puerto Rico. Samples were obtained from the south coast and plated in marine agar. Colonies that formed pits were purified by streaking at least twice in the same medium and incubated at 30˚C. Isolates were characterized by pigment formation and morphological characteristics using Gram staining, followed by PCR amplification and sequencing of the 16s rRNA gene. At least 3 distinct bacterial species have been isolated belonging to the Rheineimera, Psychrobacter and Vibrio genera. We are currently isolating and purifying the enzymes to characterize them in terms of their specific activity and molecular weight. This will help us understand the relationship of these bacteria to other agarase producers isolated from other habitats.

    FRI-655 THE BEAUTY OF SCALLOPS, PHYLOGENETIC ANALYSIS OF SCALLOP SPECIES

    • Latayshia Lacey ;
    • Jeanne Serb ;

    FRI-655

    THE BEAUTY OF SCALLOPS, PHYLOGENETIC ANALYSIS OF SCALLOP SPECIES

    Latayshia Lacey1, Jeanne Serb2.

    1Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, IA, 2Iowa State University, Ames, IA.

    There are over 300 different species of scallops found all over the world and that adapt in order to fit their environment. We have chosen to focus on how closely related different scallops species are. This led us to ask the question: do the Propeamussidae clade and Pectinidae clade belong together? We ran 84 samples of different species through a series of polymerase chain reactions (PCR) to amplify our gene and then used gel electrophoresis to indicate if the primers were effective and to indicate if there was DNA present. Samples were sent for sequencing and analyzed for any errors that may have occurred during the process. Sequences were then combined with other sequences to create a phylogenetic tree, which consist of 5 genes. Analyzing the phylogenetic tree we created, we were able to discuss possibilities for our hypothesis. We were not able to conclude an exact result to determine whether the Propeamussidea clade and Pectinidae clade belonged together. We determined that if we had more species involved in this research, it may provide more precise results in future studies.

    THU-643 LIPASE EXPRESSION ON UNCULTURED BACTERIA

    • Gabriel Palmieri Lagares ;
    • Cleber Ouverney ;
    • Margarita Rangel ;
    • Nabil Zoubeidi ;
    • Becky Lee ;

    THU-643

    LIPASE EXPRESSION ON UNCULTURED BACTERIA

    Gabriel Palmieri Lagares1, Cleber Ouverney2, Margarita Rangel2, Nabil Zoubeidi2, Becky Lee2.

    1University of Puerto Rico in Ponce, Ponce, PR, 2San Jose State University, San Jose, CA.

    Many bacteria in the world contribute to ecological factors and health issues, though it is estimated that more than 99% of the bacteria are uncultivated and, therefore, little is known about the exact role these bacteria play in their niches. The goal of this project is to better characterize the role of an uncultured bacterium based on its genetics, and empirically test the activity of a novel lipase gene. Bacterial lipases are extracellular enzymes that degrade lipids (triglycerides), usually for energy acquisition. Lipases have also been used for biotechnology applications on food, dairy products, detergents, and pharmaceuticals. For instance, lipases can aid in cleaning oil spills and contaminated sites. Lipases are a subclass of esterases that break esters into acids and alcohol. Different types of lipases and esterases break down different kinds of triglycerides. Our specific goal is to identify the types of substrates the lipase in our uncultured bacterium can metabolize. Preliminary results from bioinformatics analysis suggest our lipase falls in the family of esterase/lipase. We plan to clone the lipase gene into the expression vector PET28a and test whether the lipase can hydrolyze various types of triglycerides. Most studies characterizing uncultured bacteria are limited to bioinformatics analysis and gene function predictions based on computer models. Our study takes one additional step and attempts to empirically validate gene products with direct impact on the potential metabolism this bacterium may carry out.

    FRI-650 THE EFFECT OF CONSTITUTIVELY ACTIVE RAP1A IN CHOROIDAL NEOVASCULARIZATION

    • Brooke Romine ;
    • M.E. Hartnett ;
    • Deeksha Gambhir ;
    • Lori Fotheringham ;
    • Sadiki Deane ;

    FRI-650

    THE EFFECT OF CONSTITUTIVELY ACTIVE RAP1A IN CHOROIDAL NEOVASCULARIZATION

    Brooke Romine1, M.E. Hartnett2, Deeksha Gambhir2, Lori Fotheringham2, Sadiki Deane2.

    1Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 2Moran Eye Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

    Rap1a enhances barrier integrity of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which makes up the outer blood-retinal barrier that is important to visual acuity. In neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), choroidal endothelial cells invade the retina after migrating through the RPE to become vision-threatening choroidal neovascularization (CNV). Broadly activating Rap1 in the retina reduced CNV in a murine laser model. We formulated the hypothesis that activating Rap1a in RPE would be sufficient to reduce CNV. To introduce active Rap1a into RPE in vivo, self-complementary adeno-associated viral vectors with green-fluorescent-protein (GFP) and constitutively active Rap1a driven by an RPE65 promoter (CARap1a-GFP-RPE65-scAAV2) were created. Controls were GFP-RPE65-scAAV2 and phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Four-week old C57Bl/6 mice received 1-microliter subretinal injections of CARap1a-GFP-RPE65-scAAV2, GFP-RPE65-scAAV2 or PBS. Viral infection and toxicity were assessed using in vivo imaging for GFP and retinal structure (Micron IV, Phoenix-Research-Labs). Laser was delivered at 6 weeks and eyes were processed as choroidal flat-mounts 1 week later and labeled with anti-GFP and lectin. Images through CNV were captured as 3-micron optical sections within Z-stacks on a confocal microscope (Olympus), summed, and analyzed by ANOVA. GFP increased in both scAAV2 groups, but not in PBS. No viral toxicity was noted on GFP-labeled RPE mosaics in scAAV2-treated groups and or by assessing retinal structure in all groups. A pattern of reduced CNV volume occurred in scAAV2-treated groups, but no significant difference was found compared to PBS. CARap1a-GFP-RPE65-scAAV2 and GFP-RPE65-scAAV2 successfully transduced RPE following subretinal injections. We did not find that CARap1a-GFP-RPE65-scAAV2 reduced CNV compared to GFP-RPE65-scAAV2.

    THU-654 INVESTIGATION OF TELOMERES AND CAJAL BODIES IN LAND PLANTS

    • Adriel Martinez ;
    • Mario Izaguirre Sierra ;

    THU-654

    INVESTIGATION OF TELOMERES AND CAJAL BODIES IN LAND PLANTS

    Adriel Martinez, Mario Izaguirre Sierra.

    Northern New Mexico College, Espanola, NM.

    The focus of our research is the TCAB1 gene in Arabidopsis thaliana. TCAB1 is also known as telomerase Cajal body protein 1 and is found in the cytosol and cell nucleus of eukaryotic cells. Specifically, this protein is localized at the telomeres and enriched in a subnuclear structure called the Cajal body (CB). CBs are evolutionarily conserved nuclear bodies involved in the biogenesis of different kinds of small ribonucleoproteins. Telomeres are elongated through a mechanism that involve several proteins, some of which are found in CBs. Telomeres are repetitive sets of nucleotides found at each end of a chromosome. The main goal of my project is to study the role of AtTCAB1 and the CB during the telomere elongation process. We used genetics and molecular biology techniques to identify tcab1 mutants in Arabidopsis. This research can be used to create breakthroughs in the fight against aging and cancer.

    FRI-652 THE EFFECT OF SALINITY ON THE GROWTH OF NANNOCHLOROPSIS SALINA ALGAE CELLS

    • Jennifer Thompson ;
    • David Hanson ;

    FRI-652

    THE EFFECT OF SALINITY ON THE GROWTH OF NANNOCHLOROPSIS SALINA ALGAE CELLS

    Jennifer Thompson, David Hanson.

    The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.

    Water and land are the largest resources needed in the cultivation of algae for biofuel production. It is necessary to find ways to cultivate algae without impinging on fresh water resources, especially in arid regions. Certain species of algae, including Nannochloropsis salina, can be cultivated in hypersaline environments. The purpose of this experiment was to test the effect that salinity has on the growth rate of N. salina algal cells and to explore alternative water sources that can be used for the cultivation of algae. N. salina is a marine algae, therefore it was hypothesized that algal cells that were exposed to hypersaline growth media would experience a faster growth rate versus algal cells grown in hyposaline growth media. For this experiment, 3 N. salina algal cultures were grown in bioreactors in growth media of a specific salinity: 50% (hypo), 100% (control), or 150% (hyper) the salinity of seawater. Chlorophyll content, optical density, photosynthetic electron transfer rate, and pH were measured on the cultures during the experiment. Quantitative analysis of experimental data strengthened the hypothesis that algal cells grown in hypersaline media experienced an exponentially higher growth rate. The increased growth rate of N. salina in hypersaline environments imply that algae may be cultivated for the production of biofuel in non-traditional water sources such as water from oil and gas production, thus limiting competition for fresh water resources in arid regions.

    FRI-658 BACTERIAL EFFECTS OF NIOI (CAPSICUM FRUTESCENS)

    • Kimberly Kahaleua ;
    • Kathleen Ogata ;

    FRI-658

    BACTERIAL EFFECTS OF NIOI (CAPSICUM FRUTESCENS)

    Kimberly Kahaleua, Kathleen Ogata.

    Kapi'olani Community College, Honolulu, HI.

    Nīoi (Capsicum frutescens), commonly known as the Hawaiian chili pepper, is not only used for adding spice to a dish, but for medicinal purposes. Although nīoi was introduced, it has become naturalized to the Hawaiian Islands and is extensively cultivated. It can be found growing in low elevations in dry to mesic areas. This shrub is generally long lived and produces white flowers and green fruits that ripen to a bright red. The red fruit contains capsaicin, which is responsible for the popular spicy sensation. Lāʻau lapaʻau practitioners, also known as traditional Hawaiian health practitioners, have used it to treat arthritis, wounds, and other health issues. Nīoi can be used externally or internally, e.g., to cleanse the body. When the fruit of this plant is pounded and applied to a sore or wound, it has antiseptic properties. Thus, nīoi functions as a bacteriocide. To understand the medicinal effects of nīoi, isolation and characterization of capsaicin was undertaken. In this study, nīoi was grown and the active components were partially purified through extraction with various solvents and silica gel chromatography. Thin layer chromatography (TLC) was used to identify these compounds. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used to quantify the purity of the capsaicin. Samples were then tested on various bacteria cultures to observe any bactericidal activity.

    FRI-649 ANGIOTENSIN RECEPTOR BLOCKER INCREASES LIPID MOBILIZATION AND AMELIORATES HYPERLIPIDEMIA IN A RAT MODEL OF METABOLIC SYNDROME FED A HIGH FAT DIET

    • Jose Garcia ;
    • Andrew Lee ;
    • Rudy Ortiz ;

    FRI-649

    ANGIOTENSIN RECEPTOR BLOCKER INCREASES LIPID MOBILIZATION AND AMELIORATES HYPERLIPIDEMIA IN A RAT MODEL OF METABOLIC SYNDROME FED A HIGH FAT DIET

    Jose Garcia, Andrew Lee, Rudy Ortiz.

    University of California, Merced, Merced, CA.

    CD36 and lipoprotein lipase (LPL) are proteins involved in lipid mobilization and triglyceride storage in various cell types, including adipocytes. Accumulation of excess lipids in non-adipose tissues leads to cell dysfunction, potentially cell death, and ultimately insulin resistance. Furthermore, activation of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is implicated in the manifestation of metabolic syndrome, for which dyslipidemia is an associated factor. To address our hypothesis that a blockade of the angiotensin II receptor (AT1) can improve lipid use, we measured body mass, retroperitoneal mass, adipose lipase activity, CD36 and LPL expression in five groups of rats: Long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka (LETO) normal diet (ND) (n = 6); Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) ND (n = 8); OLETF high-fat diet (HFD, 62% fat in food) (n = 8); OLETF + angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) (10 mg olmesartan/kgd 6 wk) (n = 8); and OLTEF HFD + ARB (n = 7). Body mass increased 38% in OLETF relative to LETO, ARB decreased it by 20% relative to OLETF, and HFD + ARB decreased it by 37% relative to HFD. ARB decreased retroperitoneal fat 16% in relation to OLETF, and ARB + HFD decreased it 72% compared to HFD. CD36 decreased in response to a HFD and an increase in lipase activity with ARB treatment. Our results suggest that AT1 activation decreases lipid use and mobilization, contributing to the development of hyperlipidemia from a high-fat diet.

    THU-655 LUNG TISSUE VOLUME AS AN INDICATOR OF AVIAN ADAPTATION AT HIGH ALTITUDES

    • Celina Aguilar ;
    • Christopher Witt ;

    THU-655

    LUNG TISSUE VOLUME AS AN INDICATOR OF AVIAN ADAPTATION AT HIGH ALTITUDES

    Celina Aguilar1, Christopher Witt2.

    1The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 2Museum of Southwestern Biology, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.

    In order to survive at higher elevations, birds must adapt on cellular and anatomical levels to tolerate the oxygen-poor air. The purpose of our investigation was to determine if the volume of avian lung tissue varies with elevation. Our hypothesis proposes that lung tissue volume increases with body size and that the data would reveal a clear relationship between lung tissue volume and elevation with body size accounted for. To obtain the volume of the lung tissues, 382 liquid-preserved lungs from Peruvian bird specimens collected in 2009-2011 were measured. The method of measurement involved observing liquid displacement. A solution of water and ethanol was used in a graduated cylinder to determine the amount of fluid displaced by each preserved lung. The results display a strong positive correlation between lung tissue volume in mL and bird body mass in grams. After plotting elevation against mass-adjusted lung tissue volume, which was determined by dividing lung tissue volume by body mass, the data displayed a weak positive correlation between elevation and mass-corrected lung tissue volume. At first glance, the weak correlation implies a low likelihood that lung tissue volume is highly impacted by adaptation to higher elevations. However, statistical analyses reveal that the correlation is actually significant. Other characteristics of avian pulmonary morphology and function should be investigated to determine how and why lung tissue volume is altered, as well as to identify additional mechanisms by which avian lungs and respiration adapt to the hypoxic and extreme conditions of higher elevations.

    FRI-642 ROLE OF GPER IN MEDIATING XENOESTROGEN ACTIONS IN THE BREAST

    • Janette Mendoza ;
    • Helen Hathaway ;

    FRI-642

    ROLE OF GPER IN MEDIATING XENOESTROGEN ACTIONS IN THE BREAST

    Janette Mendoza, Helen Hathaway.

    The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.

    We encounter xenoestrogens in our everyday environment in the form of plastics, detergents, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals. Xenoestrogens mimic estrogen and can inappropriately activate estrogen receptors such as ERα, ERβ and the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor GPER. Accumulating evidence demonstrates that prenatal exposure to the xenoestrogen bisphenol A (BPA) alters later estrogen-dependent mammary development and breast cancer incidence in rodent models, suggesting an epigenetic mechanism. GPER activation correlates with poor outcomes in patients with breast cancer, the most common cancer among women in the U.S. Moreover, GPER activation promotes proliferation in human breast cells. GPER deletion in mouse models of breast cancer leads to reduced tumor size, grade, and distant metastasis. GPER is expressed in the fetal mammary gland. We therefore hypothesize that BPA activation of GPER in the fetal period will promote aberrant mammary gland development. To test this hypothesis, wild-type or GPER-null mice were treated with BPA perinatally. At 25-days-of-age, female offspring were ovariectomized, estrogen was delivered via slow-release pellet for 10 days, then mammary glands were harvested and processed for morphometric analysis and to quantify proliferation and apoptosis in ductal outgrowths. We expect to see a decrease in ductal size, ductal extension, and reduced cell proliferation in GPER-null mice. Identification of GPER function will aid in the design of new in vivo studies that can help understand the role of xenoestrogens in breast development and breast cancer progression.

    FRI-640 LPS MODIFICATION OF MEMBRANES FOR COMPLEX MEMBRANE DESIGN

    • Kirstie Swingle ;
    • Gabriel Montano ;

    FRI-640

    LPS MODIFICATION OF MEMBRANES FOR COMPLEX MEMBRANE DESIGN

    Kirstie Swingle, Gabriel Montano.

    Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM.

    Supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) are useful model membrane systems for investigating biological processes and developing sensor technologies. The ability to create complex biological mimics through understanding SLB system boundaries could significantly enhance applications of SLBs. We previously demonstrated the ability to enhance control over SLB organization using lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a component of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. In a process that is both thermodynamically and kinetically driven, we showed that LPS causes the formation of stable holes in SLBs. In our current work, we extend this approach for membrane modification to create multicomponent assemblies consisting of lipids, polymers, and proteins and demonstrate geometric control of the resultant patterns over hundreds of microns. In addition, we demonstrate a novel memory effect in which LPS is shown to recreate holes at the same locations iteratively, allowing for controlled membrane healing. Lastly, we investigate enhanced stability of SLBs through the addition of small amounts of amphiphilic-block copolymers. Ultimately, our new findings and proposed techniques significantly extend the potential uses and applications of LPS-membrane modification. Our findings advance our ability to generate complex, controlled SLBS for membrane biosensor design and platform development for studying biological interactions.

    THU-641 ANTIMICROBIAL PROPERTIES OF COPPER

    • Celeny Rios ;
    • Lizbeth Romero ;

    THU-641

    ANTIMICROBIAL PROPERTIES OF COPPER

    Celeny Rios, Lizbeth Romero.

    Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo Campus, Arecibo, PR.

    Copper is an important metal that is distributed throughout nature and whose discovery dates from around 5,000 BC. It has been used in a variety of applications ranging from construction of household utensils, clothing accessories, and as an electric conductor. History has also shown a health-related use in ancient civilizations. In this study, we want to evaluate and compare, at 2 different times, the effects of solid copper on Staphylococcus aureus and Enterobacter aerogenes. Copper will be compared with plastic and stainless steel. Also, we want to test the antimicrobial properties of copper sulfate, copper nitrate and cupric chloride on Enterobacter aerogenes, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Bacillus cereus, Enterococcus faecalis, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Our results show that solid copper inhibits the tested bacteria at 1 and 3 hours of exposure. Copper surfaces showed complete inhibition of growth in contrast with the effect observed in plastic and stainless steel. In the case of liquid copper, an inhibition zone was observed for each tested bacteria at concentrations of 50, 100, and 150 mg/ml of each solution. These results demonstrate the antibacterial properties of copper on bacteria of medical importance. Further studies are required to test and evaluate the antimicrobial effect of copper surfaces and other concentrations of copper sulfate, copper nitrate, and cupric chloride.

    THU-640 GABA-B RECEPTORS IN THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX ARE NECESSARY FOR THE ACQUISTION OF SPATIAL LEARNING

    • Roy Brooks Rivera ;
    • Roberto Melendez ;

    THU-640

    GABA-B RECEPTORS IN THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX ARE NECESSARY FOR THE ACQUISTION OF SPATIAL LEARNING

    Roy Brooks Rivera1, Roberto Melendez2.

    1Universidad Metropolitana, San Juan, PR, 2University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, PR.

    The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is responsible for learning, memory, and cognitive functions. Using the PFC-dependent spatial memory task Morris water maze (MWM), we determined whether intracranial administration of one of the following compounds into the PFC would impair spatial learning in adolescent and adult C57BL/6J mice: the GABA-A receptor agonist muscimol (0.1 mM), the combination of the GABA-B agonist baclofen and muscimol (1/0.1 mM), and aCSF-vehicle control. The infusion of these agents was performed at a flow rate 1 µl/min using a microdialysis probe (1 mm membrane) inserted into the medial PFC. Approximately 15 minutes after the infusions, mice were subjected to the MWM task, which consisted of 4 consecutive trials per day for 3 consecutive days. Mice had a maximum of 60 seconds per trial to swim and navigate to the hidden platform to escape. Infusion of muscimol alone resulted in no significant alterations in escape latency compared to aCSF. On the other hand, infusion of baclofen/muscimol significantly increased the latency scores compared to muscimol alone or aSCF infusions, indicating a nearly 50% reduction in spatial learning. The mean latency scores for aCSF, baclofen/muscimol, and muscimol-treated mice were 24.1 ± 3.9, 44.1 ± 2.6, 31.5 ± 3.0 respectively. These findings suggest an important role of GABA-B receptors in the PFC in mediating the acquisition of spatial learning in B6 mice.

    FRI-641 OPTIMIZATION-BASED EXPLORATION OF PARKINSON'S DISEASE MICROARRAY EXPERIMENTS

    • Janice Garcia ;
    • Trujillo Alto ;
    • Clara Isaza ;
    • Xavier Aguilar ;

    FRI-641

    OPTIMIZATION-BASED EXPLORATION OF PARKINSON'S DISEASE MICROARRAY EXPERIMENTS

    Janice Garcia1, Trujillo Alto1, Clara Isaza2, Xavier Aguilar1.

    1University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, Mayaguez, PR, 2Ponce Health Sciences University, Ponce, PR.

    Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. In order to study PD, it is possible to make use of high-throughput techniques to detect important biological signals. Such is the case for microarrays which quantify relative expression of tens of thousands of genes simultaneously. In our research group, a 2-step analysis pipeline has been proposed to detect highly differentially expressed genes and determine the most correlated path among them as a proxy to the potential signaling pathway. The methods incorporated in this pipeline are based on mathematical optimization which is deemed novel. These methods include multicriteria optimization and network flow optimization. In particular, in the latter, the traveling salesman problem and the minimum spanning tree mathematical formulations were used. This research focuses on generating knowledge about Parkinson’s disease in the form of a potential genetic signature and a potential signaling pathway. Preliminary results in potential biomarkers and signaling paths will be discussed as well as the role that this information could play in the understanding of the disease. The analysis of a single microarray experiment has been used to obtain biologically relevant information, and the results of the proposed analysis strategy have been already validated in previous biological experiments, supporting the potential and high discriminating power of this strategy.