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The Undergraduate Research Scholars Program 2005-2006


Mr. Ryan Abelowitz
Ms. Marina Acosta
Ms. Latifat Alli
Mr. Christopher Bui
Ms. Akanksha Chhabra
Ms. Grace Chang
Ms. Lillian Chang
Ms. Yuli Chang
Mr. Benjamin Chiang
Ms. Janet Chow
Mr. Navid Ezra
Ms. Emily Fu
Ms. Shiva Ganjian
Ms. Princess Gilbert
Ms. Iulia Giuroiu
Mr. Daniel Gould
Ms. Joie Guner
Mr. Omar Hajji
Mr. Ali Hassanpour
Ms. Sanghee Hong
Ms. Amy Hughes
Ms. Lucia Huynh
Ms. Virginia Huynh
Ms. Angela Jin
Ms. Amy Kao
Ms. Alina Katsman
Mr. Mike Kharazian
Mr. Hyun Kim
Mr. Sunmin Kim
Mr. Omid Kohannim
Mr. Hsiang (Andrew) Kung





Mr. Ryan Abelowitz
Mentor: Dr. Michael Sofroniew
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title: Spinal Cord Regeneration Utilizing Biodegradable Materials

Ryan Abelowitz is a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Neuroscience. Under the guidance of Michael Sofroniew, he has been researching spinal cord injury (SCI) in mice models for the past two and a half years. Initially his research included work in a transgenic mice model that regulates astrocyte reactivity. The transgenic model is based on a deleted STAT3, Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription, gene in only GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein) expressing cells. After an SCI in normal mice, a signaling pathway that regulates the reactivity of astrocytes up regulates STAT3. However, if STAT3 is deleted from this pathway then astrocyte reactivity is attenuated, thereby minimizing the astrocytic scar formation. Currently, Ryan is studying the regeneration aspect of SCI. He is researching the use of synthetic biodegradable hydrogel and polymers to attempt to promote axonal regeneration after SCI. These microsphere polymers, which are composed of biodegradable material, retain a specified amount of neurological growth factor and decompose over a defined time in vivo. Accordingly, they release the encapsulated growth factor and encourage axonal regeneration through the injured region of the spinal cord. The hydrogels used are a poly-amino-acid composed of varying lengths of hydrophobic alpha helices and polar tails. These hydrogels not only homogenize and facilitate an injectable microsphere solution, but also utilized themselves as a vehicle to carry various growth factors. Ryan would like to thank his fellow researchers in the Sofroniew lab, especially Julia Herrman and Dr. Michael Sofroniew. He would also like to express his utmost gratitude to the Wasserman family for their support.

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Ms. Marina Acosta
Mentor: Dr. Elaine Reed
Funding: Schering-Plough
Title: Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy and Plasmapheresis to Reduce Allosensitization in Heart Tranplant Recipients

Marina Acosta is a third year Biology student at UCLA. She conducts her research at the David Geffen School of Medicine under the guidance of her mentor Dr. Elanie Reed. Marina has been in Dr. Reed’s lab since September 2004. Reed’s lab focuses on the study of mechanisms of antibody mediated allograft rejection. The goal of Marina’s project is to determine whether intravenous immune gamma globulin (IVIG)) therapy and/or plasmapheresis in heart transplant recipients is associated with reduction and/or elimination of anti-donor HLA antibodies. IVIG and plasmapheresis are immunosupression therapies that have been shown to have potent immunomodulatory effects on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Recent studies also suggest that IVIG and plasmapheresis can be used to reduce sensitization in broadly sensitized transplant candidates and effect the treatment of patients with antibody-mediated rejection. Ultimately, the correlation between anti-HLA class I and/or class II antibody production and episodes of rejection, transplant arteriosclerosis, cardiac function and patient and graft survival will be established in patients with and without IVIG therapy and plasmapheresis. After graduating from UCLA Marina plans to attend either medical school or graduate school. She also would like to pursue a Master’s in Public Health. Marina would like to thank her mentor Dr. Elaine Reed and her Post-Doc, Jennifer Zhang. She would also like to express her sincere appreciation to the Schering-Plough Corporation for their support in her exciting research achievements.

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Ms. Latifat Alli
Mentor: Dr. Rob Gunsalus
Funding: Schering-Plough Equipment Award
Title: The Effect of Different Concentrations of Nickel, Selenium, Cobalt and Cyanocobalamin on the Growth of Methanosarcina acetivorans.

Latifat Alli is a fourth year Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics student. She started doing research in 2004 as a transfer student from El Camino College. Under the supervision of Dr Rob Gunsalus and Lars Rohlin, she is currently studying the effect of different concentrations of nickel, selenium, cobalt and cyanocobalamin on the growth of Methanosarcina acetivorans.

Methanosarcina acetivorans are important organisms because they serve as an integral part of the carbon cycle and are a large producer of methane gas, a global warming gas. M. acetivorans are methanogens and belong to the archaea group. Methanosarcina species are found in a wide variety of habitats. They also live on a diverse menu of energy sources, including acetate. With the genome sequenced, research is ongoing on the search for genes responsible for the organism's capacity to adapt and break down a variety of waste products

Latifat is very excited to be studying gene expression in this important global warming-causing organism. She hopes that future results obtained will eventually be used to reduce global warming.

After graduation, she will be doing more summer research with Schering-plough pharmaceuticals in New-Jersey. Eventually, she hopes to become a doctor that will be dedicated towards doing both research and primary care to benefit people especially those in third world countries.

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Mr. Christopher Bui
Mentor: Dr. Utpal Banerjee/ Dr. Gerald Call
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title: Characterization of the Novel Drosophila Blimp-1 Gene

Chris Bui is presently a fourth year physiological sciences major, and is starting his second year doing research in the Undergraduate Research Consortium in Function Genomics (URCFG). The URCFG is a unique research laboratory here at UCLA in that it is comprised entirely of undergraduate students, and was created by Dr. Utpal Banerjee in an attempt to expand and broaden the undergraduate research experience. Presently, Chris is working to characterize the novel Drosophila gene B-lymphocyte induced maturation protein (Blimp-1), which was discovered in a genomic wide screen performed by the URCFG to isolate genes that are essential for eye development. Clonal analysis of Blimp-1 mutations in the Drosophila eye result in an unique raised glossy phenotype. Blimp-1 encodes a protein that contains a DNA binding domain, and a SET domain, which acts as a histone methyl transferase. Consequently, Blimp-1 is believed to be a transcription factor and regulates the expression of various genes. The current focus of this project is to discern any interacting proteins that Blimp-1 may regulate via immuno-staining and in situ hybridization, in order to formulate a signaling pathway through which Blimp-1 may act to regulate differentiation. Chris will be applying to medical school where he hopes to specialize in orthopedic surgery / sports medicine.

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Ms. Akanksha Chhabra
Mentor: Dr. Utpal Banerjee/ Dr. Gerald Call
Funding: Alcott Scholar
Title: Characterization of mutation in atonal using Drosophila eye development

Akanksha Chhabra is an international student, majoring in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. She has been working in Dr. Utpal Banerjee’s Lab since her freshman year and is currently completing her honor thesis. Akanksha began researching in Howard Hughes Medical Institute funded Undergaduate Consortium in Functional Genomics where genes vital for Drosophila eye development were identified using genetic screens. She continued on in the lab and is working on an independent project. Presently she has mapped a mutation with an interesting mutant eye phenotype to the atonal (ato) gene. ato is a proneural gene that encodes for a highly conserved basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor. Its expression is essential for the specification of the first photoreceptor (R8). She is using immuno-staining to visualize mutant clones in the Drosophila imaginal eye disc, which is the developing eye while in the larval stage. With appropriate antibodies she has concluded that the mutation results in the loss of nuclear localization of Atonal in mutant clones. Subsequently she has sequenced the mutant fly line and determined that the coding region it be wild-type and now plans to study regulatory elements of the gene. Akanksha is currently applying to MD/PhD and PhD programs and wishes to continue bring together research and healing.

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Ms. Grace Chang
Mentor: Dr. L. Jeanne Perry
Funding: Kessler Scholar
Title: Expression, Crystallization, and Characterization of Metabolic Proteins in Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Grace Chang is currently a Senior studying Molecular Cell Developmental Biology as a major and Political Science as a minor. She has worked as an SRP student for 2 years under the tutelage of Dr. L. Jeanne Perry, who is funded by the Department of Energy and works closely with the Structural Genomics Consortium. This year Grace is focused on her research project to solve the crystal structures via x-ray diffraction of six metabolic proteins of Mycobacterium tuberculosis: Rv1271c, Rv1291c, Rv1396c, Rv1419, Rv1566c, and Rv1759c. Her goal is to express, purify, and crystallize these proteins to decipher their precise molecular structures. Solving the crystal structures of these proteins will reveal their functions and whether they play a crucial role in the pathway of M. tuberculosis infection. With this information, drugs can be developed to inhibit proteins that enable M. tuberculosis to infect, thrive, and kill so many of the world’s population. Besides being engrossed in her project, Grace loves to play volleyball, try different restaurants, sleep, and travel the world. She would like to thank Dr. Jeanne Perry for believing in her and especially acknowledge the Kessler family for their contribution to make her project happen.

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Ms. Lillian Chang
Mentor: Dr. Hsian-Rong Tseng
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title:
Micro-Protein Chips (μ-PCs) for Prostate Cancer Research

Lillian Chang is a third year Biochemistry student at UCLA. She is conducting research under the guidance of Dr. Hsian-Rong Tseng in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology. Her current project is to develop a microfluidic chip for the detection of important biomarkers for the diagnosis of prostate cancer. The goal is to develop a miniaturized chip capable of ( i) incubation of prostate cancer cells inside a controllable microfluidic environment, (ii) cell lyses and sequential fluorescent labeling of those released protein molecules, and ( iii) real-time and high throughput detections of pathway biomakers associated with the prostate cancer signaling networks. Lillian plans to graduate from UCLA in Fall 2006, and she hopes to become a pharmacist by attending pharmacy school after graduating from UCLA. Lillian would like to thank Dr. Hsian-Rong Tseng, Dr. Guodong Sui and her fellow researchers at Dr. Tseng’s laboratory for all their mentorship, support and guidance, as well as, Dr. Cramer and the Wasserman family for providing her with this opportunity.

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Ms. Yuli Chang
Mentor: Dr. L. Jeanne Perry
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title: Towards the Crystal Structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Gene Products

Yuli Chang is a fourth year Biochemistry major. Since Fall of 2003, Yuli has been a part of Dr. L. Jeanne Perry’s Protein Expression Technology Center as a student researcher.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is responsible for causing the airborne disease tuberculosis (TB) that affects one-third of the world’s population and kills over 2.3 million people a year. According to the World Health Organization, TB is a considerable public health problem in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The disease can be treated by antibiotics, including isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol for several months. However, these complex and prolonged regimens lead to treatment failure and generation of resistant strains of tuberculosis. Due to these resistant strains, characterization of the proteins that promote the virulence of the organism will aid in drug design.

Yuli’s project targets open reading frames encoding an izoniazid inducible gene protein, mce1F of the mce1 operon of M. tuberculosis, glucose-1-phosphate adenylyltransferase, and two ORFs of the ESAT-6 (secreted antigen target-6) gene family that encodes secreted T-cell antigens that lack detectable secretion signals. The goal of her project is to express and crystallize the proteins and solve their structures by X-ray crystallography toward their use as possible drug targets

Yuli intends to obtain a Pharm.D. degree after completing her studies at UCLA. She plans to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry. She would like to acknowledge Dr. Perry, the staff of PETC and the URSP office for all their support, and express her gratitude towards the Wasserman family for their generosity.

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Mr. Benjamin Chiang
Mentor: Dr. Milan Fiala
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title:
Study of cell signaling in macrophages and monocytes in response to stimulation by amyloid-beta.

Benjamin Chiang is a third-year Electrical (emphasis: Biomedical) Engineering student doing research in the UCLA School of Medicine. He has been under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Fiala since June 2004, studying subjects ranging from endothelial cell response to stimulation by cocaine to specific signaling pathways in response to amyloid-beta. His current project focuses on the Myosin Light-Chain Kinase cascade in hopes of elucidating the effects amyloid-beta has on cell signaling. The larger goal is to uncover a disparity between Alzheimer's patients and control subjects in response to amyloid-beta to develop a better understanding of the disease and perhaps develop a diagnostic test. Procedures frequently used to conduct this particular facet of research include immunofluorescent staining, cytospin, and individual, third-party assays. His career plans are to take his strong technical and scientific background into the field of intellectual property law. Finally, Ben would like to thank Dr. Fiala for the opportunity to do research as well as the URSP Program and the Wasserman Family for recognizing the time and effort required for undergraduates to be successful in conducting research.

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Ms. Janet Chow
Mentor: Dr. Gouping Fan and Yin Shen, M.S.
Funding: Rose Hills Scholar
Title:
The Role of CIITA in Mouse Neural Stem Cells in vitro

Left to right: Dr. Gouping Fan, Janet Chow, Yin Shen

As a 4 th year student majoring in neuroscience, Janet has been working in the Fan lab since February of 2004. For her departmental thesis project, she plans to analyze the role of class II transactivator (CIITA) on major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and II gene transcription during the development of mouse neural stem cells (NSCs). In human B lymphocytes, CIITA has been shown to be the master regulator of transcription for MHC class II molecules, which express cell surface glycoproteins that are crucial for the activation of T helper lymphocytes during the immune system response. CIITA has also been shown to play an important role in MHC class I transcription. After she graduates this coming spring, she intends to move onto graduate school to earn her Ph.D. in neuroscience. On a side note, although her close friends have accused her of becoming a lab hermit and her “north campus” boyfriend has strong suspicion that she’s secretly cloning babies, Janet has no regrets of the path she has taken and looks forward to the arduous, pain-staking, and meticulous (but essentially rewarding!) world of research.

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Mr. Navid Ezra
Mentor: Dr. Desmond Smith
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title: Identifying Genetic Circuits in Cells

From left to right: Chris Park, Dr. Desmond Smith, Navid Ezra

Navid Ezra is a fourth year Psychobiology major and Gerontology minor conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Desmond Smith in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology. Navid is working on a project that is part of a recent trend in systems biology that involves the investigation of a methodical perturbation of biological systems. His project seeks to identify and map regulatory gene circuits in a mammalian system using microarrays. Identifying regulatory genes has vast implications because it allows for the detection of putative control genes in humans by homology. Besides research in the David Geffen School of Medicine, Navid is completing a clinical research project on Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) Treatment for patients with toxic injury due to mold exposure. In addition, he is an intern in a community clinic where he provides preventive health services to at-risk youth. Navid sincerely thanks his mentor for giving him the opportunity to participate in research in his laboratory, Chris Park for his guidance, and the rest of the Smith lab for a supportive and healthy learning environment. Navid also thanks Dr. Audrey Cramer and the Wasserman family for financial support.

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Ms. Emily Fu
Mentor: Dr. Christina Jamieson
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title: Prostate Cancer Metastasis to Bone

Emily Fu is a fourth year undergraduate Biology student who will be completing a research project under the supervision of Dr. Christina Jamieson in the Department of Human Genetics. Previous studies have shown that prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in males and signs of bone proliferation (osteoblastic phenotype) are often found among the prostate cancer patients. The sex hormone testosterone and androgen are also known to promote prostate cancer cell proliferation early in the disease. As a result, over the past year Emily has been in search for androgen regulated genes in prostate cancer cells and is actively involved with Dr. Christina Jamieson’s collaboration with Dr. Sotirios Tetradis, DDS PhD at UCLA, to study the effects of osteoblast cells' interaction with prostate cancer cells during bone metastasis . Emily hopes to carry out a successful invitro experiment that involves co-culturing prostate cancer cells with osteoblast cells. In a co-culture experiment, the cells will be sharing the same media or environment and though this, Emily and the lab anticipate in discovering soluble factors that induce bone formation. No such experiment has been able to identify the bone-derived soluble factors that can promote prostate cancers cells, but studies have shown that the progression of prostate cancer metastases can be promoted in bone microenvironment. Emily is currently carrying out an experiment that involves treating osteoblast cells and prostate cancer cells with different concentrations of 5 a-dihydroxytestosterone (DHT, an androgen receptor agonist) that will help determine how androgen plays a role in both cell types. To test the effects of androgen and regulation of gene expression, Emily will run assays such as alkaline phosphatase, FACS, RT-PCR, and a cDNA microarray. Overall, Emily hopes her diligent work in research will help contribute to the advancement of prostate cancer treatments as she plans to pursue her education in the field of medicine.

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Ms. Shiva Gangian
Mentor: Dr. Richard A. Gatti
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title: Stratification of ATM Mutation By SNP Haplotyping

Shiva Ganjian is a third year undergraduate Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology major. For the past three years, she has been doing research on ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) under the guidance of mentor Dr. Richard A. Gatti. Mutations in the ATM gene are responsible for A-T, a neurodegenerative autosomal recessive disorder of childhood in the ATM gene correspond to particular single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) haplotypes. By SNP haplotyping patients of varying ethnic backgrounds, we were able to divide mutations into four SNP haplotype categories: H2, H3, H4, and other, using five polymorphic markers: IVS17-56G>A, 5557G>A, IVS62-55T>C, IVS47-257 A>C, and IVS56+186C>T. We used the Third Wave Invader technology to SNP haplotype 400 patients. A cleavase enzyme cuts the DNA at a particular location, and distinguishes one form of the polymorphism from another, e.g. a ‘C’ from a ‘T’. Three hundred patients had definable SNP haplotypes, and from the three hundred, 138 unique mutations could be placed into three SNP haplotype groups: H2, H3, and H4. We then took the H2 and H4 patients and attempted to further subdivide them into H2a or H2b and H4a or H4b, using the markers IVS56+186C>T and IVS47-257A>C respectively. After genotyping 54 patients for H2b, this plan was abandoned because it became clear in three instances that the same mutations would be found on either H2a or H2b haplotypes, i.e., the mutations could not be reliably subdivided by IVS56+186C>T genotyping. In the case of H4, the IVS47-257A>C was not sufficiently polymorphic to subdivide H4. We are now able to stratify ATM mutation detection more efficiently by first subdividing them into four SNP categories. Shiva plans to continue her career in research while in dental school.

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Ms. Princess Gilbert
Mentor: Dr. Tom Smith and Dr. Robert K. Wayne
Funding: Schering-Plough Scholar
Title:
The Consequences of Deforestation – A look at African bird Malaria Ecology

Left to right: Dr. Smith, Princess Gilbert

Left to right: Dr. Wayne, Princess Gilbert, Dr. Pollinger

Princess S. Gilbert is currently a fourth year Biology major with an African American Studies minor. She spent her sophomore and junior year in Dr. Robert K. Wayne’s conservation and evolutionary genetics laboratory. Under the direct guidance of postdoctoral researcher, Dr. John Pollinger, Princess worked on research topics which included genotypic analysis of the Santa Monica Mountains bobcats and mountain lions along with the critically endangered Ethiopian Wolf. Her most current research topic is the impact of the Andes Mountains on the speciation of the Hermit Hummingbird in South America. Specific lab techniques acquired included, DNA extraction techniques, PCR reaction and amplification, microsatellite genotyping, genetic relatedness analysis and the setup and operation of electrophoresis gel apparatus.

In the fall on 2005 Princess began research in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Smith. Under the direct guidance of postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Camille Bonneaud , Princess is now studying the ecology of infectious blood-borne pathogens in African rainforest birds. For decades, a unique set of individual blood samples have been collected from several bird species in a variety of habitats across Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, the Ivory Coast and Uganda. Sampling sites have included locations in the ecotone ( the transitional region between the contiguous rainforest and savannah), primary and secondary rainforests, and sites experiencing intensive logging. The current research attempts to increase our understanding of how human induced habitat alterations directly affect the prevalence of infections diseases in natural populations. The goals include: (1) identifying how pathogen prevalence changes over time within differing rainforest habitats, some of which have remained unaltered, and some of which have gone through habitat conversion; and (2) identifying the host-switching that may occur in differing habitats.

Princess’s laboratory work focuses on the genetic determination of pathogen species and lineages present in birds, as well as the genetic structures of bird communities. She will be utilizing a variety of techniques including DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction, DNA sequencing, microsatellite analysis, and AFLP analysis in novel applications for analyses of lineage and population genetic data. Moreover, she will provide important assistance in the processing of genetic samples for use in evaluating genetic divergence and linage structure within and among parasite species as well as genetic structuring of bird species.

Princess would like to thank Schering-Plough and URC/CARE for their collective academic support and guidance.

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Ms. Iulia Giuroiu
Mentor: Dr. L. Jeanne Perry
Funding: Alcott Scholar
Title:
Toward the Ligand-Bound Structure of a Putative Molybdate-Binding Protein from Methanosarcina acetivorans

Iulia Giuroiu is a fourth-year Biochemistry major. Since the summer of 2003, she has been working under the leadership of Dr. Perry at the Protein Technology Center and also spent Summer 2004 at the European Molecular Biology Lab’s Hamburg Outstation. Her main focus has been determining the crystal structure of a putative sulfate/molybdate ABC transporter periplasmic solute-binding protein from the archaeon Methanosarcina acetivorans. Displaying extensive metabolic versatility, this organism has drawn interest from the U.S. Department of Energy for bioremediation and energy production. Molybdate uptake has been shown to play a role in acetate-based methanogenesis, which contributes to the global carbon cycle and global warming. This project aims to confirm the identity of this protein’s ligand and solve the ligand-bound crystal structure and compare its binding site and overall fold to the binding sites and folds of functional homologues from other organisms. These key structural features could ultimately characterize M. acetivorans ’s uniqueness among methanogens. The protein has been crystallized, and a preliminary model representing its unliganded, open conformation was constructed upon X-ray diffraction data collected at 1.94Å resolution. Iulia is currently working toward co-crystallizing the protein with its ligand and hopes to elucidate its binding mechanism this year. She is excited about pursuing a career in medicine and exploring the direct applications of scientific breakthroughs toward the improvement of our health.

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Mr. Dan Gould
Mentor: Dr. Joan Valentine
Funding: Ricciardi Scholar
Title:
Examining Phenotypes for Yeast Lacking Superoxide Dismutase and Examining the Role of Superoxide Dismutase in Pathogenesis Related to Aggregation in ALS

 

Dan is a fourth year Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics Major at UCLA and is a member of the American Society for Microbiology. He has been working under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Joan Valentine in bio-inorganic chemistry for the past two years. He is currently working on a project involving the lactate rescue of oxidatively stressed yeast lacking the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Yeast lacking the Cu-Zn SOD show a phenotypic weakness when grown on non-fermentable carbon sources likely due to the high levels of superoxide which are generated by oxidative respiration and accumulate in the absence of SOD1. This defect is less dramatic when cells are grown on lactate. Since the yeast evolve superoxide at complex three in the electron transport chain (ETC) it seems pertinent that the yeast contain a mitochondrial membrane protein, L-lactate dehydrogenase (Cyb2) which catalyzes the oxidation of lactate to pyruvate, donating electrons directly to cytochrome c via a conjugated heme moiety and bypassing Complex III in the ETC. Dan’s recent efforts have been focused around characterizing this surprising phenotypic rescue by growth in lactate, and determining the role(s) of cyb2 and D-lactate dehydrogenase (Dld1) in this phenomenon. He plans to continue his work on the identification of the exact up regulation of the CYB2 in yeast grown in lactate media, and to create genetic knockouts of both cyb2 and dld1 in yeast background strain eg103.

Upon completion of the yeast studies, Dan would like to become more involved in biophysical studies concerning the aggregation of human SOD1 which is proposed to be the cause for pathogenic familial ALS in humans.

Dan is currently applying to MD/PhD combined degree programs and intends to pursue a career as a Medical Scientist. He wants to better understand the causes of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS where aggregation seems to contribute to pathogenesis. He is currently supported by the Ricciardi Scholarship and would like to greatly thank the Ricciardi family and the executors of their estate for their generosity and support of his project.

Dan is currently applying to MD/PhD combined degree programs and intends to pursue a career as a Medical Scientist. He wants to better understand the causes of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS where aggregation seems to contribute to pathogenesis. He is currently supported by the Ricciardi Scholarship and would like to greatly thank the Ricciardi family and the executors of their estate for their generosity and support of his project.

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Ms. Joie Guner
Mentor: Dr. Joanna Jen
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title:
The effect of mutant glutamate transporter EAAT1 in the animal model the zebra fish

Joie with Jijun Wan, Ph.D.

Joie is a third year student majoring in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics. Joie, with the mentorship of Dr. Jen in the department of Neurology at the UCLA medical school, is studying the mutated glutamate transporter EAAT1 in zebrafish to determine if the mutation genetically predisposes the zebrafish to disease such as episodic ataxia, hemiplegia and seizure. The glutamate transporter, which can be found in neurons and glia, is an enzyme that utilizes the sodium gradient to transport glutamate via diffusion. The expedited uptake of glutamate from the synaptic cleft by transporter EAAT1 is crucial in preventing prolonged cell signaling. Mutations in these regulatory membrane proteins can cause a broad range of dominantly inherited human neuromuscular diseases, including rare forms of migraine, epilepsy and ataxia. Joie will first establish the spatial and temporal pattern of expression of the zebrafish

EAAT1 ortholog and then investigate the role of EAAT1 in zebrafish neurodevelopment. Subsequently, she will design a transgenic zebrafish and analyze effective intervention such as nutrients and medications. Joie would like to thank Dr. Jen and her fellow researchers for their mentorship and guidance as well as the Wasserman family for their endowment and the Undergraduate Research Center for their support.

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Mr. Omar Een Hajji
Mentor: James Waschek
Funding: Ricciardi Scholar
Title: Role of pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide and vasoactive intestinal peptide in nerve regeneration

Omar is a 3 rd year student majoring in Neuroscience and Psychological Biology.  His research in nerve regeneration initially sparked his interest in neuroscience, prompting him to switch to this double major from economics and try to learn as much about neurological development and behavior as possible before entering medical school.  He has been working on a project under the guidance of Dr. Waschek for the past year which seeks to elucidate the role of pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide (PACAP) and vasoactive intestinal peptide ( VIP) in nerve regeneration.  Dr. Waschek has previously shown that PACAP and VIP play a role in regeneration of neural tissue in both the peripheral and central nervous systems in vitro and even in vivo, however the exact mechanism of their involvement is not well understood.  Thus Omar’s project has clear clinical implications for victims of spinal cord and other neural damage.  Currently, Omar is working on an exciting project involving the use of Fluorogold, a fluorescent dye, as a retrograde tracer in PACAP and VIP knockout mice to ascertain whether PACAP and VIP have separate, redundant, or synergistic actions in nerve axon regrowth.  Omar would like to thank Dr. Waschek for his continued support and insight, Dr. Armstrong for his early instruction and guidance, and the Ricciardi family for their support of this project.

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Mr. Ali Hassanpour
Mentor: Dr. Daniel J. Valentino
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title:
Effects of Skull Stripping on Registration Accuracy

Bando

Ali Hassanpour is a senior majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. He has been conducting research at UCLA's Laboratory of Neuro Imaging under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel J. Valentino Ph.D at UCLA's department of Biomedical Physics. Over the last few quarters Ali has been developing pipelines, on the Loni Pipeline Processing Environment, and writing scripts to perform Spatial Normalization procedures to generate a brain atlas using brain MR images. Spatial Normalization, or Registration, is a technique developed to warp neuroanatomical structures of one image to match those of another in a 3D space to remove differences between MR image sets and construct an average brain image. Using Spatial Normalization techniques population based atlases are constructed by registration of image data from a number of individuals to represent the anatomic variability in a population. Population based brain atlases can effectively provide researchers with a basis for comparison of functional and anatomical data and for statistical correlation with an underlying factor such as age or disease. Segmentation of the brain surface, or Skull Stripping, is a necessary step in performing spatial normalization procedures, however, errors in skull-stripping are believed to limit the accuracy of atlases. Ali's research focus is to determine the anomalies of Spatial Normalization procedures, particularly those caused by Skull Stripping errors. He will utilize many different skull stripping approaches, which include manual and automated (BSE, BET, Model-Based Level Set) methods, to investigate their effect on the overall brain atlas generated. Upon graduation, Ali's goal is to attend medical school. He is a firm believer in the beneficial role of technology to the field of medicine and human health, and hopes to contribute to medical advancements in the future. Ali is very thankful of his research mentor, Dr. Daniel Valentino, and graduate students Yuan Xu, Di Zhang and Audery Zhuang for their support and guidance. He also wishes to extend his warmest appreciation to Mrs. Lew Wasserman and Mr. Casey Wasserman for their generosity, and to Dr. Audrey Cramer at the UCLA Undergraduate Research Center for making this opportunity possible.

Abstract: Population based atlases are constructed by registration of image data from a number of individuals to represent the anatomic variability in a population. Spatial Normalization, or Registration, has been developed to warp neuroanatomical structures of one image to match those of another in a 3D space to remove differences between the MR image sets and construct an average brain image. Segmentation of the brain surface, or Skull Stripping, is a necessary step in creating an atlas, however, errors in skull-stripping are believed to limit the accuracy of atlases. The purpose of this project is to identify the effect and significance of skull stripping errors on the accuracy of atlas registration. To compare the effect of the skull stripping procedures a pipeline will be developed to create a spatially normalized atlas from each group of volumetric MR data sets by registering the individual data sets to each other using the Automated Image Registration (AIR, UCLA, CA) algorithm. The brain atlas resulting from each group of automatically skull stripped MR data sets will then be compared to the atlas generated from the manually skull stripped data set (the gold standard atlas). Preliminary studies suggest that, because of the complexity and variability of brain anatomy, a fully automated and perfect segmentation algorithm does not exist. Therefore, the magnitude of the difference from the gold standard atlas will represent the error introduced by the automated segmentation algorithm. If deviations are small, then we can conclude that the skull stripping errors have little impact on atlas accuracy.

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Ms. Sanghee Hong
Mentor:
Dr. Meika A. Fang and Dr. Karen L. Perell Funding: Sparks Scholar
Title:
The Correlation between Vertical Ground Reaction Forces and Compressive Knee Joint Reaction Forcees of Individuals with Knee Osteoarthritis

Left to right: Dr. Karen Perell, Sanghee Hong, Dr. Meika Fang

Sanghee Hong is a third-year General Biology major. Sanghee is working in Knee Osteoarthritis Research in the Veteran's Administration hospital's gait lab, which is run by Dr. Meika A. Fang and Dr. L. Perell through UCLA department of Medicine. Sanghee has involved in biomedical reseraches in perspecive of biomechanics, including medial knee osteoarthritis and effects of laterally wedged shoe insoles and correlations of pressure and perfusion maps of plantar foot surfaces of healthy volunteers & those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Knee osteoarthritis that accompanies pain in the joint is related with several mechanical factors/ forces. These mechanical forces lead to the progression of the disease, so it is important to measure and study these forces. The compressive knee joint reaction forces are especially critical to understanding the effect on physical functions. Biomechanical gait evaluations allow to measure the knee joint reaction forces from the force plate data. However, it is methodologically difficult to measure directly on how much force is exerted on the joint. To measure the knee joint reaction forces, the participants have to contact the force plate with only one foot sequencing several trials to obtain adequate data . In contrary, the vertical ground reaction forces can be measured in a methodologically simpler way by use of plantar pressure equipment. Therefore, if there is a high correlation between the vertical ground reaction forces and the compressive knee joint reaction forces, the simpler methodology will enhance the ability of researchers to proceed the future reseraches in related areas. The purpose of the research is to confirm the this correlation with compressive knee joint reaction forces and vertical ground reaction forces of knee osteoarthritis patients. Sanghee plans to go to medical school after graduation and to continue her research there as well. She would like to thank Dr. Fang, Dr. Perell, Dr. Taylor, and the Sparks, the scholarship donor for their tremendous support and help.

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Ms. Amy Hughes
Mentor:
Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer, Dr. Elana EvanFunding: Sparks Scholar
Title:
The Psychosocial Quality of Life of Children with Life-limiting Illnesses

Left to right: Dr. Elana EvanFunding, Amy Hughes, Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer

Amy Hughes is a third year psychobiology student. She has been doing research at the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program since last April, researching for a symptom communication study. She then decided to use the sample of the study to research mediators of the quality of life in children near the end of life. One possible mediator of the psychosocial health of children with terminal illness is effective coping style. Emotion focused coping strategies have been shown to be the most effective style of coping when managing low control stressful situations, such as coping with the stress of a life limiting condition. Another possible factor contributing to the child?s psychosocial health is the psychosocial well being of the child?s primary caregiver. The primary caretakers of children with life-limiting illnesses are subject to large amounts of stress leading to a negative mood state, including anxiety and depression. The emotional contagion hypothesis postulates that anxiety is easily communicable from one person to another. An upset parent could easily transmit their emotions to their child. It is hypothesized lower parent mood state as measured by the Profile of Mood State and less effective child coping strategies will be associated with lower self-reported child psychosocial well being as measured by the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale. A sample of 40 primary caregiver-child dyads will be given the questionnaires and interviewed. These children will range from ages 8-22 and have varied medical diagnoses with poor prognoses. Amy would like to thank the Alcott family for her scholarship, and her advisors Dr. Zeltzer and Dr. Evan for all of their support in her research project.

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Ms. Lucia Huynh
Mentor: Dr. John Colicelli
Funding: Rose Hills Scholar
Title: Mutagenic Analysis of the Mouse Rin1 Promoter Region

From left to right: Bart Dzudzor, Lucia Huynh, Dr. John Colicelli

Lucia Huynh, a fourth year Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology major, is currently conducting research under the guidance of Dr. John Colicelli in the department of Biological Chemistry at the David Geffen School of Medicine. Signal transduction pathways spur biochemical and structural changes in cells. The Colicelli lab studies the RAS effector Rin1, how Rin1 alters cell structure, and what function Rin1 plays in the organism. Rin1 expression peaks during synaptogenesis (day 21) in mouse embryonic brain tissue. This suggests that while Rin1 may be nonessential for early development, it may be critical for function. Since the Rin1 protein is expressed at highest levels in mature neurons of the forebrain (amygdala, hippocampus, cortex, striatum), one project in the lab focuses on the involvement of Rin1 in neuronal plasticity, learning and memory. Moderate levels of Rin1 expression are seen in some epithelial cells and appear to be required for mammary epithelial cell function. Lucia's research project is to determine how the rin1 promoter regulates selective expression of the Rin1 genes in mature forebrain neurons. She would like to thank all the members of the Colicelli lab, as well as the Undergraduate Research Center and the Rose Hills Foundation, for their continued generosity and support.

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Ms. Virginia Huynh
Mentor: Dr. Hugh T. Blair
Funding: Ricciardi Scholar
Title: Unilateral fear memory storage by the contralateral amygdala

Virginia Huynh, a senior majoring in Psychobiology, is currently conducting research with Dr. Hugh T. Blair at the UCLA Department of Psychology. The amygdala is a cluster of nuclei in the temporal lobe, involved in emotions, memory and learning. The Blair Lab has shown that when rats are trained to fear a tone that predicts shock to one of their eyelids, their memory for this experience depends only upon the amygdala contralateral from the shocked eyelid, and not upon the ipsilateral amygdala. Thus, rats use only their right amygdala when they learn to fear a shock to their left eyelid, and only their left amygdala when they learn to fear a shock to their right eyelid. This suggests that the amygdala?s fear learning circuitry is functionally lateralized according to the anatomical source of predicted threats. The lab is working on a long-term effort to identify the anatomical pathways which convey aversive signals to the amygdala. As her senior thesis project, Virginia will study whether emotional memories can be stored unilaterally within the amygdala during fear conditioning in rats with implanted wires that run to the hindlegs of the rats and train them to be afraid of tones paired with hindleg shocks. As in our previous experiments, each amygdala hemisphere will be inactivated by intracranial drug infusions. However, in this new approach, the turning behavior of rats that are shocked on the eyelids will be compared with those shocked to the hindlegs to determine whether the contralateral amygdala is primarily responsible for escape motor responses or for sensory input of the shock.

Virginia would like to thank the members of the Blair Lab, Dr. Blair, and the Ricciardi Family for their support in helping her pursue a career in medicine and basic research.

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Ms. Angela Jin
Mentor: Dr. Aldons Lusis
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title:
Quantification of microRNA (miRNA) expression in female B6xC3H murine liver cells

Left to right: Dr. Aldons Lusis, Angela Jin, Dr. Richard Davis

Angela Jin is a fourth year student majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. She is currently studying the quantitative expression of miRNA in female transgenic murine liver cells under the guidance of Dr. Aldons Lusis and Dr. Richard Davis of the MIMG department. Although the existence of miRNAs has been known since 1993, research in the past several years exploded miRNAs into the scientific world as a prominent new field of research. Its existence counters the previous prevailing assumption in molecular biology of “one gene, one protein” and might explain the high volume of “junk DNA” encoded in the human genome. Presently, this previously unknown class of small, regulatory RNAs is mainly recognized for its role in regulating multiple genes and for its control of timing the process of development. Recent research also implicates that miRNA expression is associated with stem cell maintenance, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and fat metabolism. In the lab’s previous research, B6 and C3H mice were crossed based on their phenotypic differences of the level of obesity acquired from a high-fat diet. Liver from B6xC3H transgenic mice were used to identify susceptibility loci for complex diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and atherosclerosis by using a mouse gene oligonucleotide microarray. Expression values were treated as gene expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) and mapped. In her research project, Angela will be taking RNA from the previously collected liver samples and performing miRNA assays to detect and quantify mature microRNAs using real-time PCR. She will then use this data to test for statistically significant correlation to the gene expression data previously gathered. After graduation, Angela hopes to pursue a MPH in Epidemiology and MD. Lastly, she would like to thank her family, UCLA, the lab, and the Wasserman family for their generous support.

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Ms. Amy Kao
Mentor: Dr. L. Jeanne Perry
Funding: Alcott Scholar
Title:
Characterization of genes rv2741, rv3036c, rv3354 and rv3159c in Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Amy Kao is a third year Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology major conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. L. Jeanne Perry. Her project focuses on the characterization of four genes from M. tuberculosis with the aim of crystallizing the proteins. Rv2741 and rv3159 belong to the PE-multigene family, a family of proteins found only in M. tuberculosis and identifiable by the N-terminal Pro-Glu amino acid sequence, while rv3036c and rv3354 are putative proteins. The exact function of these proteins is unknown. Once crystallized, protein structures can be determined by X-ray diffraction and more information collected regarding each protein’s role in M. tuberculosis. She thanks Dr. Perry and everyone in the Perry lab for their ongoing assistance and the Alcott family for the generous scholarship.

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Ms. Alina Katsman
Mentor: Dr. Benjamin Bonavida
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title:
Reversal of Tumor Cells’ Resistance to TRAIL

Alina Katsman is a third year Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics major and Classics Civilization minor. She has been working under the mentorship of Dr. Benjamin Bonavida since the summer of 2004. The focus of the lab has been to find molecules that would aim at reversing tumor cells’ resistance to immunotherapeutics. The Bonavida lab has previously worked with TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) in order to sensitize tumor cells to apoptosis. Recently, there has been a problem in that some tumors develop resistance to TRAIL. Some of the key regulators in this process are a transcription repressor, YY1 (Yin Yang 1) and its upstream regulator, NF kB. YY1 represses the promoter for the cell surface receptor DR5 in the extrinsic apoptotic pathway, a key surface receptor for TRAIL. Alina’s new project aims at screening a mixture-based combinatorial library of small polyphenylurea molecules that would potentially yield one or more agents in order to ultimately inhibit the transcription of YY1 and subsequently up-regulate DR5 and reverse resistance to TRAIL. These molecules would serve as sensitizing agents in order to reverse tumor cells’ resistance to apoptosis. The ultimate goal of this project would be to find molecules that could be used as cancer therapeutic agents in the future. After graduation, Alina plans to attend medical school in order to pursue a combined MD/PhD degree.

Alina would like to thank the Wasserman family for their generous gift; Dr. Cramer at the Undergraduate Research Center for this opportunity; Dr. Benjamin Bonavida for his guidance and for giving Alina the opportunity to work in his lab; Dr. Mehran Neshat for his patience and constant support; and everyone at the Bonavida lab for creating a hospitable environment.

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Mr. Mike Kharazian
Mentor: Dr. Sung-Cheng Huang
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title:
Assessing an Automated Sub-Cortical Analyzing Program for Rat MicroPET Images

Mike Kharazian is a senior majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Accounting. Working in the lab of Dr. Sung-Cheng Huang within the Molecular and Medical Pharmacology Department at the David Geffen School of Medicine, he hopes to complete his departmental honors thesis in the field of Neuroscience. The Huang lab studies a wide variety of quantitative algorithms and kinetic models to improve the versatility and capability of Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Collaborating with many other departments, the lab also uses PET technology to assist other researchers studying Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury. During his year of working here, Mike has published a finding with the Society of Nuclear Medicine on assessing the gender differences in neural metabolic recovery after traumatic brain injury. He will also submit a finding to the Academy of Molecular Imaging in March regarding a novel quantitation model for assessing two different brain warping software. Currently, Mike is working on a program to automate sub-cortical selection in rat MicroPET images. Using cryogenic images as a template, regions of interests will be applied to MicroPET images to acquire data on the dynamic function of those areas. Such a tool will greatly accelerate studies in rats as researchers will be able to more accurately and quickly acquire as well as analyze data. Mike’s aspirations are to attend medical school where he plans to continue research in the neurosciences in addition to practice. He would like to thank the URC, Wasserman family, and his colleagues at the Huang lab for making possible the opportunity to research in a field he loves.

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Mr. Hyun Kim
Mentor: Dr. William Robb MacLellan
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title:
Regulation of Cell Growth: Sizers, Timers and the TOR Pathway

Hyun is a fourth year Molecular Cell Developmental Biology student who recently returned from a two year proselytizing mission in Utah. His academic hobbies include religious studies, Korean, Chinese and oncology. Currently he is time-lapse imaging THP-1 monocytes and Saccharomyces cerevisiae to establish if the correlation found in yeast, between post-mitotic (birth) size and cell cycle progression, also exists in mammalian cells. He and Dr. MacLellan hypothesize that the birth size of a cell will determine how long before it reaches the critical volume necessary for mitosis (sizer phase) and the subsequent time it will take the cell to divide (timer phase). This relationship has already been established in S. cerevisiae through empirical data and mathematical modeling. Further investigation will include examining the role of the Target of Rapamycin (TOR) pathway in cell growth and cell cycle events. Though it is known that TOR is responsible for cell growth, the precise mechanics of its influence in cell cycle events remains elusive. Hyun hopes to clarify the interconnection of cell growth and cycle progression. Ultimately he plans to use this knowledge in his career as an MD PhD, researching cell cycle mechanics in cancer.

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Mr. Sunmin Kim
Mentor: Dr. York Marahrens
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title: Correlating ATM-S1981 and Apoptosis of Various Cancer Cells

Left to right: Dr. Mahahrens, Dr. Diaz-Perez, Sunmin Kim

SunMin Kim is a fourth year undergraduate Biophysics major. At the beginning of his second year, SunMin began studying in Dr. Marahrens¹ Human Genetics lab under Dr. Diaz-Perez¹s supervision. During the past two years, he has contributed to several studies, one of which is pending publication.

Currently, SunMin is studying the correlation between ATM activity and apoptosis in various human cancer cell lines. The ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia

mutated) kinase is a crucial component of the cellular response to DNA damage. In cultured cells, DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) trigger ATM activation through autophosphorylation on serine 1981. While ATM is crucial for DNA repair, it can also induce phosphorylation on serine 15 of p53, a tumor suppressor involved in apoptosis. Many cancer cells are known to have unstable chromatin structure, and some cancer cells have defective DSB repair pathways ­ possibly due to mutated ATM genes. So far SunMin has found that many cancer cells lines have endogenous ATM activation. This year, he plans to investigate the effects of irradiation on the levels of ATM activity and apoptosis of the cancer cells. SunMin hopes that his study will one day contribute to a development of novel cancer treatment.

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Mr. Omid Kohannim
Mentor: Dr. Jake Lusis, Dr. Peter Gargalovic
Funding: Sparks Scholar
Title:
Identification of Potential Candidate Genes for Hypercholesterolemia

Left to right: Dr. Peter Gargalovic, Omid Kohannim, Dr. Jake Lusis

Omid Kohannim is a third-year Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics (MIMG) major, mathematics minor. He has started doing research in Dr. Jake Lusis’s laboratory since fall 2004. Dr. Lusis’s lab studies the genetic basis of atherosclerosis, which is a complex cardiovascular disease. Omid works directly under the supervision of Dr. Peter Gargalovic. One of Dr. Gargalovic’s projects is to find potential candidate genes that lead to hypercholesterolemia, a risk factor of atherosclerosis, in mice. The identification of these genes was initiated years ago with the two mouse strains BALB/cJ (BALB) and MRL/MpJ (MRL). The latter strain showed higher blood cholesterol and lipid levels than the former. Through mapping studies, a quantitative trait locus (QTL) was found on chromosome 15 that led to hypercholesterolemia. After this, congenic mice were obtained from many crosses, by crossing heterozygous mice continuously to the BALB mice to further narrow down the region of chromosome 15 that includes the gene(s) responsible for this risk factor. As of now, this region is narrowed to approximately 8 million base pairs. In this region of mouse chromosome 15, there are about fifty genes. Omid’s project is to use quantitative PCR to compare the expression of these genes between the two strains BALB and MRL. This can be done by using online genome databases to design primers for all of the genes. This project will help us identify potential candidate genes for hypercholesterolemia. Omid is planning to pursue medical practice and research after graduation. He is thankful to Dr. Jake Lusis and Dr. Peter Gargalovic for allowing him the opportunity to contribute to research at UCLA.

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Mr. Hsiang (Andrew) Kung
Mentor: Dr. Imke Schroeder
Funding: Wasserman Scholar
Title: Expression and Characterization of putative W- binding protein in Pyrobaculum aerophilum

Andrew is a fourth year undergraduate Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics major. For the past two years, he has been conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Imke Schroeder from the department of MIMG. Dr.

Schroeder?s lab focuses on respiration in anaerobic Archaea that can tolerate and survive at extremely high temperatures. The model organism, Pyrobaculum aerophilum, respires with nitrate through the denitrification pathway.

Schroeder lab previously showed that the first enzyme of the pathway, a nitrate reductase contains either a Molybdenum (Mo) or Tungsten (W) cofactor. The growth of this hypothermophile is strictly dependent on the presence of tungsten in the medium and has the capability to transport radioactivity labeled W into the cell in an energy-dependent manner. The reason behind the project is that both molybdenum and tungsten are chemically similar to each other. However, Mo is predominant metal in biological system. Mo uptake has been well studied in many bacteria however, not in any Archaea. Thus far, nothing is known about the W metabolism and W uptake in Bacteria and Archaea that depend on this metal for growth. It is likely that W transport is mediated by an ABC-type transporter as this type of transporter is typically employed for the uptake of trace elements. The P. aerophilum genome contains

several ABC type transporters consisting of three genes. One of the putative

transporters was annotated to be a Mo transporter. Andrew?s project was set out to clone and over-express the gene that encodes the binding protein

(PAE0061) of this transporter in order to assay for Mo and W binding and verify the function of a putative W- binding protein in P. aerophilum. The overexpression of this gene prove great difficulty since in P. aerophilum all substrate binding proteins are tethered to the cytoplasmic membrane. Normally, substrate binding proteins are localized in the periplasmic space of Gram- bacteria. Currently several plasmids has been constructed containing two truncations of the gene and excluding the N-terminal transmembrane helix. The plasmids will include a His-tag to facilitate protein purification and various fusion proteins to promote solubility of the binding protein, which is predicted to be hydrophobic in nature. Once overexpressed, the protein will be purified and tested for Mo- and W-binding in an in vitro binding assay. Andrew enjoys volunteering at the hospital, reading, along with participating in IM sports during his free time. He would like to specifically thank Dr. Imke Schroeder for her guidance, support, and mentorship since he started working in the lab, as well as the Wasserman Family for their generous endowment.

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Profiles of Students