Open Access Publications

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Open access publications by faculty, postdocs, and graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences


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Now showing 1 - 5 of 35
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    Association of Behavioral and Clinical Risk Factors With Cataract: A Two-Sample Mendelian Randomization Study
    (Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2023-07) Jiang, Chen; Melles, Ronald B.; Sangani, Poorab; Hoffmann, Thomas J.; Hysi, Pirro G.; Glymour, M. Maria; Jorgenson, Eric; Lachke, Salil A.; Choquet, Hélène
    Purpose: To investigate the association of genetically determined primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), myopic refractive error (RE), type 2 diabetes (T2D), blood pressure (BP), body mass index (BMI), cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption with the risk of age-related cataract. Methods: To assess potential causal effects of clinical or behavioral factors on cataract risk, we conducted two-sample Mendelian randomization analyses. Genetic instruments, based on common genetic variants associated with risk factors at genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8), were derived from published genome-wide association studies (GWAS). For age-related cataract, we used GWAS summary statistics from our previous GWAS conducted in the Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging (GERA) cohort (28,092 cataract cases and 50,487 controls; all non-Hispanic whites) or in the UK Biobank (31,852 cataract cases and 428,084 controls; all European-descent individuals). We used the inverse-variance weighted (IVW) method as our primary source of Mendelian randomization estimates and conducted common sensitivity analyses. Results: We found that genetically determined POAG and mean spherical equivalent RE were significantly associated with cataract risk (IVW model: odds ratio [OR] = 1.04; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01–1.08; P = 0.018; per diopter more hyperopic: OR = 0.92; 95% CI, 0.89–0.93; P = 6.51 × 10−13, respectively). In contrast, genetically determined T2D, BP, BMI, cigarette smoking, or alcohol consumption were not associated with cataract risk (P > 0.05). Conclusions: Our results provide evidence that genetic risks for POAG and myopia may be causal risk factors for age-related cataract. These results are consistent with previous observational studies reporting associations of myopia with cataract risk. This information may support population cataract risk stratification and screening strategies.
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    Matrix Degradability Contributes to the Development of Salivary Gland Progenitor Cells with Secretory Functions
    (ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 2023-07-12) Metkari, Apoorva S.; Fowler, Eric W.; Witt, Robert L.; Jia, Xinqiao
    Synthetic matrices that are cytocompatible, cell adhesive, and cell responsive are needed for the engineering of implantable, secretory salivary gland constructs to treat radiation induced xerostomia or dry mouth. Here, taking advantage of the bioorthogonality of the Michael-type addition reaction, hydrogels with comparable stiffness but varying degrees of degradability (100% degradable, 100DEG; 50% degradable, 50DEG; and nondegradable, 0DEG) by cell-secreted matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) were synthesized using thiolated HA (HA-SH), maleimide (MI)-conjugated integrin-binding peptide (RGD-MI), and MI-functionalized peptide cross-linkers that are protease degradable (GIW-bisMI) or nondegradable (GIQ-bisMI). Organized multicellular structures developed readily in all hydrogels from dispersed primary human salivary gland stem cells (hS/PCs). As the matrix became progressively degradable, cells proliferated more readily, and the multicellular structures became larger, less spherical, and more lobular. Immunocytochemical analysis showed positive staining for stem/progenitor cell markers CD44 and keratin 5 (K5) in all three types of cultures and positive staining for the acinar marker α-amylase under 50DEG and 100DEG conditions. Quantitatively at the mRNA level, the expression levels of key stem/progenitor markers KIT, KRT5, and ETV4/5 were significantly increased in the degradable gels as compared to the nondegradable counterparts. Western blot analyses revealed that imparting matrix degradation led to >3.8-fold increase in KIT expression by day 15. The MMP-degradable hydrogels also promoted the development of a secretary phenotype, as evidenced by the upregulation of acinar markers α-amylase (AMY), aquaporin-5 (AQP5), and sodium-potassium chloride cotransporter 1 (SLC12A2). Collectively, we show that cell-mediated matrix remodeling is necessary for the development of regenerative pro-acinar progenitor cells from hS/PCs.
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    A Review of IsomiRs in Colorectal Cancer
    (Non-Coding RNA, 2023-06-07) Lausten, Molly A.; Boman, Bruce M.
    As advancements in sequencing technology rapidly continue to develop, a new classification of microRNAs has occurred with the discovery of isomiRs, which are relatively common microRNAs with sequence variations compared to their established template microRNAs. This review article seeks to compile all known information about isomiRs in colorectal cancer (CRC), which has not, to our knowledge, been gathered previously to any great extent. A brief overview is given of the history of microRNAs, their implications in colon cancer, the canonical pathway of biogenesis and isomiR classification. This is followed by a comprehensive review of the literature that is available on microRNA isoforms in CRC. The information on isomiRs presented herein shows that isomiRs hold great promise for translation into new diagnostics and therapeutics in clinical medicine.
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    NhaR, LeuO, and H-NS Are Part of an Expanded Regulatory Network for Ectoine Biosynthesis Expression
    (Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2023-06-06) Boas Lichty, Katherine E. Boas; Gregory, Gwendolyn J.; Boyd, E. Fidelma
    Bacteria accumulate compatible solutes to maintain cellular turgor pressure when exposed to high salinity. In the marine halophile Vibrio parahaemolyticus, the compatible solute ectoine is biosynthesized de novo, which is energetically more costly than uptake; therefore, tight regulation is required. To uncover novel regulators of the ectoine biosynthesis ectABC-asp_ect operon, a DNA affinity pulldown of proteins interacting with the ectABC-asp_ect regulatory region was performed. Mass spectrometry analysis identified, among others, 3 regulators: LeuO, NhaR, and the nucleoid associated protein H-NS. In-frame non-polar deletions were made for each gene and PectA-gfp promoter reporter assays were performed in exponential and stationary phase cells. PectA-gfp expression was significantly repressed in the ΔleuO mutant and significantly induced in the ΔnhaR mutant compared to wild type, suggesting positive and negative regulation, respectively. In the Δhns mutant, PectA-gfp showed increased expression in exponential phase cells, but no change compared to wild type in stationary phase cells. To examine whether H-NS interacts with LeuO or NhaR at the ectoine regulatory region, double deletion mutants were created. In a ΔleuO/Δhns mutant, PectA-gfp showed reduced expression, but significantly more than ΔleuO, suggesting H-NS and LeuO interact to regulate ectoine expression. However, ΔnhaR/Δhns had no additional effect compared to ΔnhaR, suggesting NhaR regulation is independent of H-NS. To examine leuO regulation further, a PleuO-gfp reporter analysis was examined that showed significantly increased expression in the ΔleuO, Δhns, and ΔleuO/Δhns mutants compared to wild type, indicating both are repressors. Growth pattern analysis of the mutants in M9G 6%NaCl showed growth defects compared to wild type, indicating that these regulators play an important physiological role in salinity stress tolerance outside of regulating ectoine biosynthesis gene expression. IMPORTANCE Ectoine is a commercially used compatible solute that acts as a biomolecule stabilizer because of its additional role as a chemical chaperone. A better understanding of how the ectoine biosynthetic pathway is regulated in natural bacterial producers can be used to increase efficient industrial production. The de novo biosynthesis of ectoine is essential for bacteria to survive osmotic stress when exogenous compatible solutes are absent. This study identified LeuO as a positive regulator and NhaR as a negative regulator of ectoine biosynthesis and showed that, similar to enteric species, LeuO is an anti-silencer of H-NS. In addition, defects in growth in high salinity among all the mutants suggest that these regulators play a broader role in the osmotic stress response beyond ectoine biosynthesis regulation.
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    Nonmuscle Myosin IIA Regulates the Precise Alignment of Hexagonal Eye Lens Epithelial Cells During Fiber Cell Formation and Differentiation
    (Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2023-04-18) Islam, Sadia T.; Cheng, Catherine; Parreno, Justin; Fowler, Velia M.
    Purpose: Epithelial cells in the equatorial region of the ocular lens undergo a remarkable transition from randomly packed cells into precisely aligned and hexagon-shaped cells organized into meridional rows. We investigated the function of nonmuscle myosin IIA (encoded by Myh9) in regulating equatorial epithelial cell alignment to form meridional rows during secondary fiber cell morphogenesis. Methods: We used genetic knock-in mice to study a common human Myh9 mutation, E1841K, in the rod domain. The E1841K mutation disrupts bipolar filament assembly. Lens shape, clarity, and stiffness were evaluated, and Western blots were used to determine the level of normal and mutant myosins. Cryosections and lens whole mounts were stained and imaged by confocal microscopy to investigate cell shape and organization. Results: We observed no obvious changes in lens size, shape, and biomechanical properties (stiffness and resilience) between the control and nonmuscle myosin IIA–E1841K mutant mice at 2 months of age. Surprisingly, we found misalignment and disorder of fiber cells in heterozygous and homozygous mutant lenses. Further analysis revealed misshapen equatorial epithelial cells that cause disorientation of the meridional rows before fiber cell differentiation in homozygous mutant lenses. Conclusions: Our data indicate that nonmuscle myosin IIA bipolar filament assembly is required for the precise alignment of the meridional rows at the lens equator and that the organization of lens fiber cells depends on the proper patterning of meridional row epithelial cells. These data also suggest that lens fiber cell organization and a hexagonal shape are not required for normal lens size, shape transparency, or biomechanical properties.
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