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Welcome to the 2017 UMaine Student Symposium: Research and Creative Activity electronic event program. This electronic program includes student abstracts, student presentation style descriptions, and presentation schedules. It also includes a map of the venue layout, schedule of the entire day’s events and programs, as well as details and information regarding our sponsors and selected university programs.

We hope you enjoy a full day of student presentations, guest speakers, award ceremonies, and the chance to network with UMaine students, faculty, staff, as well as local and state industry and community leaders! 
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Monday, April 24 • 9:15am - 10:30am
Poster Presentations – Biomedical Sciences

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Linda Archambault

Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Zebrafish Mucosal Infection Model Illuminates Host-Pathogen Interactions During Yeast Infection. | | Yeasts are part of the healthy microbiome of human gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts but can cause invasive and systemic disease in immunocompromised patients. Two species, Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis, account for the majority of hospital-acquired yeast infections. While C. albicans has long been the subject of research, relatively little is known about host-pathogen interactions involving C. parapsilosis. | The zebrafish immune system is remarkably like our own and their see-through larvae allow for intimately detailed monitoring of pathogen and host cell interactions using fluorescence laser confocal microscopy. To better understand how epithelial tissues and innate immune cells interact with Candida species, we investigated aspects of C. albicans and C. parapsilosis mucosal infection in the zebrafish... Read More →

Kevin Assoumou

Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Characterizing the lipid binding interactions of calpain5 carboxy terminal domains | | Calpains are calcium dependent cysteine proteases. Their activity involves limited cleavage of target proteins upon activation by calcium. Calpain5 (CAPN5) is a non-classical member of the... Read More →

Jim Barry

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Identification of Virulence Genes in Group B Streptococcus | | Streptococcus agalactiae is a common bacterium, also known as Group B Streptococcus (GBS), that causes fatal infections in newborns, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. Treatment options are becoming limited due to increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant strains. Identifying novel virulence genes may accelerate development of alternative treatment options. This work focuses on the identification of novel genes that encode proteins secreted by GBS, which directly interact with host and are involved in GBS pathogenesis. Transposon mutagenesis of S. agalactiae 515 will be performed using a plasmid, carrying a composite transposon encoding an alkaline phosphatase with a signal sequence deletion, as well as, a kanamycin resistance determinant. Mutants with transposon insertions immediately downstream of a signal sequence for an extracellular protein gain alkaline phosphatase activity, kanamycin resistance, and lose a functional copy of the protein coding sequence that was interrupted by the transposon. The desired deletion strains with alkaline phosphatase activity can be identified based on their ability to grow on media supplemented with kanamycin, and utilize the substrate 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl phosphate (BCIP) to produce a light blue pigment. A library of such strains will be screened for virulence using the Streptococcus-zebrafish model of bacterial pathogenesis. Strains displaying a significant loss of virulence compared to the wild-type will be sequenced to identify the interrupted gene. This mutagenesis screen using the zebrafish infection model has successfully identified novel virulence genes in closely related microorganisms. Identification of new virulence genes will provide information for the development of new antimicrobial targets. | | Faculty Mentor: Melody... Read More →

Audrey Bergeron

Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Candida and Pseudomonas Interact to Enhance Infection in Transparent Zebrafish | | Infections comprised of multiple microbial species, such as bacteria and fungi, are called “mixed infections” and present a significant burden in hospitals, often complicating patient treatment... Read More →

Drew Brooks

Microbiology, Music, 9:15AM-10:30AM
The Role of MyD88 in Neutrophil Recruitment to C. albicans infection in Zebra Fish Swimbladders | | Candida albicans is a commensal organism resident to healthy individuals. However, in immunocompromised hosts, C. albicans can become pathogenic, causing life-threatening candi... Read More →

Molly Caron

Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Antimicrobial Agent Triclosan’s Disruption of Mast Cell Function | | Triclosan (TCS) is a synthetic antimicrobial designed to act against a broad spectrum of bacteria. It is widely used in hospitals, the food industry, and some toothpastes at approximately 10mM concentrations. TCS has been found to be efficiently absorbed by human skin, resulting in exposure to many cell types in the body. Previous studies have shown that non-cytotoxic concentrations of TCS, as low as 1... Read More →

Nicklaus Carter

Biomedical Engineering, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Nanocellulose Conduits for Enhanced Regeneration of Peripheral Nerve Injury | | Peripheral neuropathy is estimated to afflict 20 million people in the United States. Most cases of neuropathy result from physical injuries and trauma arising from automobile accidents and war. P... Read More →

Sara DeMello

Nursing, 9:15AM-10:30AM
TED Stockings in the Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism (Section A Poster 9) | | The aim of this study is to examine the effectiveness of TED stockings in preventing deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) in hospitalized patients. | In hospitalized patients, lower extremity deep-vein thromboembolism is the most commonly seen type of venous thromboembolism. In the United States alone, one in every twenty patients will develop a DVT. A DVT is a serious and potentially life-threatening complication. The use of Thrombo Embolic Deterrent (TED) stockings is one method mechanical prophylaxis that is commonly seen in hospital settings. These tight stockings work by compressing the veins in the legs, reducing edema and venous stasis, which, in turn, reduces the chances of a clot forming in the veins. A search for existing studies was performed using databases such as Cochrane and CINAHL. Specific terms and words such as... Read More →

Brandon Dufault

Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Palmitoylation by PAZ2 of Dictyostellium discoidium | | The interesting life cycle of D. discoidium involves single cell growth by standard mitosis while following a period of general population starvation, cells enter a developmental phase to their life cycle. In the developmental phase cells will aggregate into a multicellular organism and begin a process of transformation involving numerous changes in gene expression. Cell-cell communication via plasma membrane receptor plays a crucial role in this process. We are studying a family of enzyme that modify proteins with palmitic acid which localizes them to the plasma membrane. This gene family named... Read More →

Brian Elsemore

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
The Isolation and Characterization of Mycobacteriophage TBrady12 | | Mycobacteriophage (phage) are viruses that infect mycobacterial hosts, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. smegmatis. Understanding bacteriophage and their infectious pathways is essential to understan... Read More →

Jillian Gori

Biology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Confirmation of Hippocampal Dendritic Spine Plasticity after Exercise Using the Classic Golgi Stain | | It is known that certain regions of the adult brain can undergo neurogenesis to produce new neurons and glia from stem cells. Research has identified the presence of adult... Read More →

Jeremy Grant

Biomedical Engineering, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Multiplexed SERS imaging in biological systems using biocompatible Raman active nanostars | | The objective of this study is to design a nanoparticle labeling system suited for enhanced Raman micro-spectroscopic imaging to directly probe the concentration, chemical dynamics, and spatial distribution of individual Raman active nanoprobes at nanometer length scales in biological systems. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), using specifically engineered spherical metallic nanoprobes for chemical sensing, has received considerable attention recently. It is considered a powerful alternative to fluorescence labeling, offering several advantages over traditional methods, including increased photostability, narrower emission peaks, allowing for simultaneous observation of a larger number of... Read More →

Jordan Hayes

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
The Role of TNFAIP8L1 in Tumor Development | | Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Despite new advances in therapy, alternative strategies must continuously be pursued. Recently the human TNFAIP8 gene family has been linked to the development of multiple cancer types, including lung cancer. The TNFAIP8L1 gene has demonstrated a role as a tumor suppressor, though little else is known about its function. Through comparative genomic approaches, our laboratory recently identified a zebrafish ortholog to the human TNFAIP8L1 gene. To obtain a better understanding of the function of TNFAIP8L1 in tumorigenesis, zebrafish tumor xenotransplantation models are being developed to understand the contribution TNFAIP8L1 makes to tumorigenesis through its effect on tumor cells and other cells in their microenvironment. An amino acid alignment found that the human TNFAIP8L1 and zebrafish Tnfaip8l1 proteins share 68.3% identity (95.2% similarity). As a first step to characterize the tumor-intrinsic effects TNFAIP8L1 expression has on tumor development, we are performing in vitro and in vivo experiments using H1299 human lung cancer cells. We are generating H1299 cell lines that either overexpress human TNFAIP8L1 or knockdown TNFAIP8L1. An in vitro proliferation assay using the... Read More →

Muhammad Hossen

Chemistry, Bioengineering, 9:15AM-10:30AM, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Dry & Wet Stiffness Increase and Structure Stabilization of Cellulose Nanofibrils (CNF) Aerogels in Aqueous Environment (Room 4 Presenter 3, 9:15AM-10:30AM) | | Porous cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) based aerogels are capable of absorbing and storing a significant amount of liquid inside the 3D structure. As the porosity of the CNF aerogels goes higher, the amount of liquid absorption increases linearly. One of the biggest problems of 3D CNF aerogels with high porosity is that the structure breaks down very rapidly in aqueous environments. Here we describe a method to overcome this deficiency by adding methacrylate functionalized carboxymethyl cellulose (MetCMC) into the CNF system followed by crosslinking between the methacrylate groups of MetCMC. The resultant polymer composite matrix successfully maintains a robust 3D structure without collapsing when rewetted and stored in aqueous environments. When rewetted CNF-MetCMC composite is freeze dried it maintains its size and shape whereas air drying causes shrinkage of the volume. Air dried CNF-MetCMC swells and increases in volume to some extent when rewetted. A greater mass fraction of CNF in the whole composition stabilizes the air dried structure against swelling in an aqueous environment. Cross-linking between methacrylate groups enhances the dry and wet modulus of CNF-MetCMC aerogels | | Co-authors: Alexander Lafrance, Matthew Talbot, Michael D Mason | | Measurement of Porosity of CNF Aerogels Using Silicone Oil (Section A Poster 27, 9:15AM-10:30AM) | | Freeze drying of aqueous slurries of cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) with different wt% of water generates CNF aerogels with different porosities. Measurement of CNF... Read More →

Emily Illingworth

Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Host range and genomic variation in mycobacteriophage | | Mycobacteriophage (phage) are abundant viruses that infect bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium. Pathogenic species of Mycobacterium, including M. tuberculosis, carry prophage that are hypothesized to contribute to virulence. The term... Read More →

Phasathon Itthipalakorn

Molecular and Cellular Biology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Zebrafish Genome Editing using CRISPR | | The discovery of using CRISPR as the genome editor is considered to be a breakthrough of the decade. It is believed that within the next year, pioneers will be awarded the Nobel prize for the discovery. The Wheeler lab is using CRISPR... Read More →
avatar for Alyssa Jones

Alyssa Jones

Molecular and Cellular Biology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Functional Analysis of an Enzymatic Protein Acyltransferase Protein palmitoylation, a reversible protein modification carried out by cells, is important because palmitoylated proteins are involved in cell signaling roles in growth, proliferation, vesicle trafficking and many other important cell functions. Dictyostelium discoideum is a suitable model organism because it contains a family of protein acyltransferases, the enzymes that carry out palmitoylation. Previous work in Dr... Read More →

Katherine Larochelle

Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
A Ferocious Phage Earns it Stripes: Characterization of ShereKhan | | Bacteriophage (phage), viruses that infect bacteria, are the most abundant biological entities in the biosphere, with an estimated 1031 particles worldwide. Mycobacteriophage, viruses that infect species of... Read More →

Daniel Lesko

Bioengineering, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Host range expansion in mycobacteriophage | | Mycobacteriophage (phage) are viruses that infect mycobacteria and are among the most abundant, diverse, and rapidly evolving biological entities on the planet. As a result, these phage are an important tool in the study of genetic relationships, but very little is known about them relative to their quantity. Over 1,000 phage have been sequenced through the SEA-PHAGES program, a microbiology learning initiative developed by The University of Pittsburgh that aims to put research into the hands of undergraduates. However, the majority of phage were isolated using Mycobacterium smegmatis mc2155, which is limiting what we understand about host range. Phage are sorted into clusters based on genome structure and sequence similarity. To gain a better understanding of how phage interact with other mycobacterial species, we determined the host range of phage representative of mycobacteriophage clusters... Read More →

Chloe Lilly

Plasma patterned infused paper substrates for controlled bacterial adhesion | | Patterning substrates to create regions of varying surface chemistry for biological adhesion plays a key role in diagnostics and in vitro bioassays. However, problems arise when trying to control... Read More →

Jacob Longfellow

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
LincRNA Dysregulation Upon Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infection in Zebrafish | | LincRNAs are long intergenic non-coding RNA that are largely uncharacterized and, until recently, believed to serve little to no purpose in our genome. Recent studies have shown lincRNAs to be involved in many important biological processes such as embryonic development, transcriptional regulation, apoptosis, and immunity. The Kim lab is particularly interested in the role of lincRNAs in immunity in response to infection, and one very important infection is from the common nosocomially acquired Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection is very common in hospital-bound patients with weakened immune systems and can lead to sepsis and death. | In order to better understand and characterize lincRNAs in this role, it is critical to study their mechanisms in vivo. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is regarded as an excellent in vivo model, because of the ease with which it can be genetically manipulated, its transgenic lines, and its sole reliance on the innate immune system during the first 4-6 weeks of development. In addition, the... Read More →

Megan MacIsaac

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Innate Immune Response to Group B Streptococcus Infection in Zebrafish Larvae | | Streptococcus agalactiae is a Group B Streptococcal bacterium that can colonize the vaginal and rectal mucosa as a commensal organism, as well as cause systemic invasive infections in older adults and newborns. The cell envelope surrounding a bacterial cell is an important defense, allowing it to survive in the host environment. Our aim is to investigate the role of the CpsA protein, which plays a role in the production of the capsule polysaccharide of S. agalactiae, in disease and in recruitment of immune cells in both systemic and localized infections of zebrafish larvae. Characterization of the innate immune response will verify that the polysaccharide capsule is a valid candidate for use as a target for antimicrobial therapies and vaccine development. We are using zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae as a model for host pathogenesis because their transparency allows for visualization of disease progression in the host and their well-developed innate immune response is similar to that of humans. We are injecting zebrafish larvae with wild-type S.agalactiae and with two strains that carry significantly less polysaccharide capsule on the outside of the cell. Mortality over a 3-day period is being recorded, and time-lapse microscopy will be performed to document immune cell recruitment in response to infection with the different bacterial strains. Based on previous studies on the role of the CpsA protein in virulence, we expect to observe that the capsule-mutated strain is significantly less able to establish an infection in zebrafish larvae, resulting in lower mortality. | | Faculty Mentor: Melody... Read More →
avatar for Paige Martin

Paige Martin

Biomedical Science, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Characterization of Novel SMARD1 and CMT Mouse Models | | Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress (SMARD1) is a lethal infantile disease, characterized by the loss of motor neurons, diaphragmatic paralysis and weakness in the truck and limbs. Mutations in human Ighmbp2, a member of the DNA helicase/ATPase family of proteins, have been shown to cause SMARD1. Recently mutations have been shown to cause Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), a less severe disease characterized by progressive motor and sensory polyneuropathy. Currently there is only one mouse model to study mutations in Ighmbp2, the neuromuscular degeneration (nmd) mouse. A previously identified modifier region MnmC, shows that genetic background can play a role in the severity of disease in the nmd mouse, by suppressing the disease altogether. New alleles are needed in order to study the variation seen, as well as interrogate the modifier region. We have created four new nmd alleles: two very severe and one less severe SMARD1-like phenotypes, one mild CMT-like phenotype. These new alleles are also being tested for disease modification that is seen in the current nmd model by the MnmC region. What is unknown is how the MnmC region suppresses the disease. Testing this region with our new will allow us to identify if it still suppresses the disease in a null allele. We aim to identify what specifically in the region is causing suppression. To do this we have knocked-out a candidate gene in the region. By identifying the modifier and how it works, we will understand what cellular and molecular functions and pathways Ighmbp2 partakes in. Further understanding of the mechanistic role of Ighmbp2 in motor neurons may help to bridge the therapeutic barrier. The creation and characterization of these novel alleles and interrogation of the MnmC region, broadens the knowledge of the function of Ighmbp2 in the motor neurons and will allow us to identify potential therapeutic strategies. | | Faculty Mentor: Greg... Read More →

Sari Mayhue

M.S. Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
A Potential Correlation Between p53 Expression and the TNFAIP8 Gene Family in Tumorigenesis | | Cancer affects forty percent of the U.S. population every year, and with less than adequate therapeutic interventions, largely results in a poor prognosis. A variety of widely used cancer therapies, to include chemotherapy, radiation, and invasive surgery, often result in severe and intolerable side effects as well as drug resistance. In addition, these therapies lack long term efficacy due to poorly understood cancer-associated gene mechanisms. It has been demonstrated that TNFAIP8 (tumor necrosis factor alpha induced protein-8) gene family plays a role in tumor development, although the mechanisms by which they participate in tumorigenesis have not been well established. Our... Read More →

Hannah Melotto

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Identification and characterization of late promoters in the cluster E mycobacteriophage Ukulele | | Mycobacteriophage are viruses that infect bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium. In 2011, the cluster E mycobacteriophage Ukulele was isolated at the University of Maine and its genomic DNA was sequenced. Promoters are sequences of DNA, used by the RNA polymerase to bind to the genome and initiate transcription. Promoters usually include several components; a... Read More →

Sam Mildrum

Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Characterizing regulatory effects of zebrafish tnfaip8l2a and tnfaip8l2b on tumorigenesis | | The Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha-Induced Protein 8-Like 2 (TNFAIP8l2) gene has been shown to suppress tumorigenesis in mammals. It is known that the TNFAIP8l2 protein inactivates the small GTPase, Rac1, leading to the inhibition of cell proliferation and suppression of tumorigenesis. Using a comparative genomics approach based upon conserved synteny, we have identified two zebrafish orthologues (tnfaip8l2a and tnfaip8l2b) to the human TNFAIP8L2. It is unclear if the zebrafish orthologue conserves its biological function. If functionality remains, the zebrafish could serve as a model for human TNFAIP8L2 function. We are performing in vitro cell proliferation assay and developing an in vivo human tumor cell xenotransplantation model in zebrafish (Danio rerio) to investigate how zebrafish tnfaip8l2a and tnfaip8l2b affects tumor growth. We also plan to describe the regulatory function of tnfaip8l2a and tnfaip8l2b have during tumorigenesis through a Rac1 activation assay. Collectively, if functional conservation can be validated, the zebrafish could serve as a novel vertebrate model to help develop anti-tumor strategies that may yield innovative alternate therapies for cancer. | | Faculty Mentor: Con... Read More →

Vasiliki Papakotsi

Human Nutrition, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Polyphenols in Wild Blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) inhibit Complement Activation by Targeting C1s-mediated Cleavage of C4 | | Ingestion of berries containing polyphenols are associated with lower risk of inflammatory, metabolic, cardiovascular and degenerative diseases. Diet has been shown to modulate the activation of the complement system, a set of over 50 proteins present in the circulation and tissues that reacts in response to damage or microbial encounter and is critical for the maintenance of homeostasis. Imbalanced activation is tightly correlated with inflammation and various pathologies. Wild blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanins and phenolic acids, which can be found in plasma shortly after consumption. Given the involvement of both complement and polyphenols in the modulation of inflammation, we investigated whether wild blueberries modulate the activation of the complement system. Phenolic- and anthocyanin-rich fractions were extracted from freeze-dried wild blueberry powder, were characterized by liquid chromatography and used in in vitro complement inhibition assays. We documented that both fractions inhibit the activation of the complement classical pathway in a dose-dependent manner with IC50 of... Read More →

William Petterson

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
The life-changing magic of SallySpecial: a viral tale of a true minimalist | | A bacteriophage (phage) is a virus that infects a bacterium. Phage exist in great diversity in the environment, but only a small proportion of these viruses have been characterized. Knowledge of vi... Read More →

Ashley Ronzo

Biology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Mechanisms for Adult Neurogenesis in the Hypothalamus | | The hypothalamus takes on many vital roles involving homeostasis, including the regulation of energy balance (appetite, energy expenditure). It is also a site postulated to undergo aspects of adult neural plasticity, i... Read More →

Allison Scherer

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Dissemination of C. albicans is supported by immune cell response and barrier disruption Candida albicans, a small non-motile fungus, lives on the mucosal surface of most individuals. While it causes few problems for healthy people, it can be a serious pathogen in immunocompromised patients such as those with HIV/AIDs, corticosteroid or broad-spectrum antibiotic use, or those undergoing cancer treatment. In severe cases, C. albicans can cause disseminated disease that spreads throughout the body and often results in mortality. Mechanisms proposed for this process include the... Read More →

Stephanie Sears

Nursing, 9:15AM-10:30AM
A Review of Literature of Nurse Residency Program Retention Rates | | PICO question: In new graduate nursing students, is there a higher rate of retention at hospitals that implement nurse residency programs? | | Topic and Purpose: | New graduate nurses (NGN) makeup 10% of the nursing workforce. Traditionally, NGN have low retention rates and many leave their first nursing job or the profession all together. In the first 12 months, 13-75% of new graduate nurses leave the profession, with 24% intending to leave before their 24th month. The cost of replacing novice nurses ranges from $49,000 to $92,000 per nurse. To combat the significant turnover rate of new graduate nurses and associated costs, institutions have begun to implement nurse residency programs. Studies have shown a significant decrease in turnover rate after successful completion of residency programs. | | Method: | An electronic search of the literature was conducted using CINAHL, PubMed, and Google Scholar. The search strategy used the following keywords: nurse residency programs, new nurse retention, job satisfaction, and novice nurse turnover. The review will be limited to peer-reviewed studies and reviews, published in English, and published after 2012. | | Results: | Group members will collaborate to determine which of the studies retrieved are most applicable to this review. Findings will be analyzed and presented with possible applications for the future. | | Conclusion: | The literature suggests nurse residency programs improve new nurse turnover rates, which is associated with decreased costs to the hospitals. | | References: | Kram, S... Read More →

Brittany Seman

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Yeast and Filaments Have Independent, Specialized Roles During Disseminated Fungal Infections | | Each year, invasive fungal infections kill between 30-50% of patients who have weakened immune systems due to chemotherapy and corticosteroid use. Most of these fungal infections... Read More →

Erica Sewell

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Characterizing the M. chelonae Bergey Prophage | | Mycobacteriophage (phage), are viruses that infect bacteria. All bacteria can be infected by phage, and each bacterial species has a unique set of phage that infect them, making phage prime candidates for studying viral diversity and evolution. Some phage integrate their genome into the host genome upon infection (prophage), where they may potentially remain indefinitely, coevolving with the host, and providing growth factors and other benefits to the host. The purpose of my research is to characterize a prophage within the genome of the bacterial host Mycobacterium chelonae Bergey to determine if it is still functional and potentially impacting the fitness of the host bacterium. Characterization of this prophage has revealed that multiple genes are conserved with regard to both the DNA and protein sequences. The integrase cassette is highly conserved, complete with integrase and two potential repressors, suggesting the phage may be capable of excising from the host genome. Multiple structural genes including capsid and tail proteins are also conserved, suggesting the prophage may be capable of producing intact virions. Recent experiments have shown that at least two prophage genes are transcriptionally active. These include a predicted repressor and transmembrane protein. Expression of these genes suggests that the prophage does indeed have some potential for affecting the biology of the host bacterium. Experiments are currently underway to determine if intact virion particles are being expressed. | | Faculty Mentor: Keith... Read More →

Sarai L Smith

Microbiology, Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM
RNA-seq analysis of cluster E phage Ukulele | | Mycobacteriophage are viruses that infect bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium. They are ideal subjects for undergraduate research, as they are easily isolated and can infect non-pathogenic M. smegmatis, which serves as an analog to the clinically relevant M. tuberculosis. Further, their genomes are diverse and accessible, allowing students exposure to the fields of genomics, bioinformatics, and evolution. Mycobacteriophage Ukulele was isolated in 2011 by students on the University of Maine campus, and its genome was sequenced and annotated. Ukulele belongs to cluster E, a poorly characterized group of mycobacteriophage. Through computational analysis some genes were assigned functions, but the majority are still unknown. Likewise, the predicted regulatory sequences, such as promoters, terminators, and regulatory RNAs, in... Read More →

Robert Soohey

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Identifying genes essential for integration and lysogeny in cluster E mycobacteriophage Ukulele | | Mycobacteriophage are viruses that infect Mycobacterium, including nonpathogenic M. smegmatis and pathogenic M. tuberculosis. Their genomes are diverse and the majority of their genes have no known function. Mycobacteriophage Ukulele was isolated from soil at the University of Maine. Ukulele is temperate, carrying out both a lysogenic and lytic lifestyle. Temperate phage typically encode integrase, excise, and repressor proteins, which regulate the change from lysogenic to lytic growth. Ukulele gp49 has been identified as the integrase but repressor and excise proteins have not been identified. The first aim of this project is to confirm the function of gp52 by creating a strain of M. smegmatis that over expresses Ukulele gp52, a candidate repressor gene. If gp52 has repressor or excise functions, over expression of gp52 in Ukulele-infected M. smegmatis cells will alter Ukulele plaque morphology. The second aim is to analyze Ukulele-M. smegmatis lysogen transcription patterns to further define which genes may be essential for lysogeny. The data will help confirm the expression of genes that are predicted to have functions during lysogeny, including gp52, identify additional repressor gene candidates, and possibly identify genes outside of the integrase cassette that potentially increase bacterial fitness. | | Faculty Mentor: Joshua Kelley, Sally... Read More →

Stephen Soohey

Molecular and Cellular Biology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Role of G-protein regulation of Formins during Gradient Tracking in Saccharomyces cerevisiae | | The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae uses a GPCR to direct the pheromone response pathway. Haploid yeast detect and respond to pheromone gradients produced by the opposite mating ty... Read More →

Emily Spaulding

Neuroscience, 9:15AM-10:30AM
In vivo translational profiling of motor neurons in two mouse models of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease Type 2D suggests impaired translation and mitochondrial dysfunction. | | Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a collection of debilitating peripheral neuropathies caused by mutations in over 80 genes. The heterogeneity of the disease, as well as the technical challenge of studying the mammalian peripheral neuron in vivo, both contribute to the lack of a cure. Dominant mutations in glycyl tRNA synthetase (GARS), the enzyme that charges glycine onto cognate tRNAs during translation, cause Charcot-Marie-Tooth Type 2D (CMT2D). How mutations in GARS cause CMT2D is unclear. However, impaired translation has recently emerged as a potential disease mechanism based on work with Drosophila models of CMT2D. We are using two in vivo, cell type-specific approaches to profile translation in motor neurons of two mouse models of CMT2D: (1) non-canonical amino acid-tagging (NCAT) provides the location, identity, and quantity of newly translated proteins, and (2) ribosome-tagging catalogs ribosome-associated RNA. We are separately profiling motor neuron cell bodies from the spinal cord and axons from the sciatic nerve, providing additional cell compartment-specificity. Although local translation in healthy, adult, mammalian axons is not established, it does occur during regeneration after injury, and our initial studies using NCAT suggest that CMT2D motor axons show a regenerative phenotype. Therefore, we are also profiling regenerating wild-type motor neurons after sciatic nerve crush for comparison against mutant Gars samples. Our approach is creating translational profiles of CMT2D, healthy wild-type, and regenerating wild-type motor neuron cell bodies and axons. These data have revealed impaired translation in CMT2D motor neuron cell bodies, and further suggest mitochondrial dysfunction. | | Faculty Mentor: Robert... Read More →

Barclay 'Summer' Streitfeld

Philosophy, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Investigation of the Chemistry and Biology of EM2487 | | The Streptomyces metabolite EM2487 suppresses Tat functions, stopping HIV replication in acute and chronic disease models. This is a novel discovery that could greatly improve Highly Active Anti-retroviral Therapy (HAART), thus creating a potential cure. The unique chemical and biological attributes of EM2487 led to a total synthesis and the unkown structural features were studied using NMR computations, synthetic chemistry, and degradation methods. Future studies will delve deeper into the structure-function relationship in order to further synthesize and discover analogues with pharmacokinetic benefits. | | Faculty Mentor: Matthew... Read More →

Anna Struba

Biochemistry, Molecular & Cellular Biology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Evaluation of Lytic Gene Expression in Cluster E Mycobacteriophage Ukulele using RNAseq | | Mycobacteriophage are a diverse group of viruses that infect mycobacterial hosts. Mycobacteriophage are effective molecular tools that allow for the manipulation and study of host cells. Studying host-phage interactions is important because many pathogenic bacteria carry prophage, or phage genomes integrated in the host genome. This is hypothesized to contribute to bacterial fitness or virulence. Due to their diversity and abundance, mycobacteriophage are organized into clusters according to genomic similarities. Some clusters are well characterized while others are not, such as cluster E. Cluster E mycobacteriophage Ukulele was isolated in 2011 by UMaine students... Read More →

Sareena Toothaker

Biochemistry, Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Marek's Disease in Maine: a Practical Approach | | Marek’s Disease Virus (MDV) is a herpesvirus infecting chickens, causing Marek’s Disease (MD). Marek’s Disease leads to immunosuppression, tumors, paralysis, and death. It is an airborne pathogen, so it spreads easily, and it has no known cure, which is why awareness and prevention are very important. There are currently vaccines for MD, though rising MDV virulence may render vaccines ineffective. Maine, with a proud history of poultry production, also has a history of MD. The goal of this project is to characterize birds most at risk of MD, to survey small flock producers about MD risk in Maine, and to develop recommendations for avoiding spread of MD in Maine. We queried the University of... Read More →

Panagiotis Tsakiroglou

Cardiovascular Research, 9:15AM-10:30AM
The effect of wild blueberry (Vaccinum angustifolium) bioactives (anthocyanins and phenolics) on angiogenesis | | Angiogenesis is a normal biological process that occurs in tissue development and is highly linked to wound healing and a plethora of pathological conditions such as atherosclerosis. This study investigates the effect of anthocyanin (ACN) and phenolic acid (PA)-rich fractions and their combination from wild blueberry powder (Vaccinum angustifolium) on angiogenesis. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUV-EC-C [HUVEC... Read More →

Jasmine Waite

Biochemistry, 9:15AM-10:30AM, 10:45 AM-12:00PM
Determining gene expression profile changes in cluster E mycobacteriophage Ukulele infection (Section A Poster, 23  9:15AM-10:30AM) | | Mycobacteriophage (phage) are viruses that infect mycobacterial hosts, including pathogenic Mycobacterium tuberculosis and non-pathogenic M. smegmatis. Understanding phage-host interactions is important considering that pathogenic strains of Mycobacterium typically carry prophage. Prophage are latent phage genomes integrated into the host's DNA and are hypothesized to contribute to bacterial virulence or fitness. We are investigating the impact of cluster E phage lytic and lysogenic infection on host M. smegmatis. Mycobacteriophage possess diverse genomes, are abundant and ubiquitous, and much of their population remains to be explored and understood. Clusters are used to organize mycobacteriophage based upon genome similarity. While some clusters are well-characterized, the knowledge of Cluster E remains underdeveloped. The genome of Cluster E phage Ukulele was previously sequenced and annotated with some gene functions predicted. This provides insight to the biology of Ukulele, but fails to explore host response to viral infection. RNA sequencing addresses this gap in knowledge, through isolation and subsequent analysis of RNA samples at pre-, early and late lytic infection time points. Based on gene expression profiles in M. smegmatis infected by mycobacteriophage Giles, we expect that host gene expression will be altered. Particular genes that were affected, as well as the biological motivations for these changes, are being explored. | | Examining CFTR and CYP2C19 Mutations through Genetic Screening (Table 5 Side L, 10:45 AM-12:00PM) | | Response to drugs can vary by patient, which may require testing before an effective treatment can be administered. In addition to these delays, early diagnosis of genetic diseases is not always available. Genetic screening provides a solution for this gap in patient knowledge. Screening may detect mutations within genes required for the activation of drugs as well as those linked to genetic diseases. The CFTR and CYP2C19 genes were investigated as representations of the importance of genetic analysis. The CFTR gene is responsible for regulating chloride ion movement across cell membranes; the two mutations investigated were M470V and... Read More →
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Elizabeth Whitmore

Biomedical Science, 9:15AM-10:30AM
3-D atomic resolution molecular modeling of chondroitin sulfate Proteoglycans are glycosylated proteins found in the extracellular matrix that also contribute to physiological pathways. Glycosylation of these proteins plays a key functional role, but is often overlooked in the literature as there are challenges with studying carbohydrate chains using current laboratory techniques. In order to examine the biophysical properties of a complete proteoglycan, we selected a small protein known as bikunin, which contains a single glycosaminoglycan, known as chondroitin sulfate (CS). Bikunin is secreted by hepatocytes and is thought to inhibit serine proteases in the kidneys by binding them to one of its two Kunitz-binding domains. However, there are gaps in the understanding of bikunin function because of the lack of 3-D atomic resolution structural information for the fully-glycosylated protein. It is known that CS is responsible for binding other large proteins to form various complexes with bikunin, impacting its function. The molecular mechanism by which these complexes form is still unclear. Although CS varies in length, composition, and sulfation, the literature suggests that there is little variation in the chain specific to bikunin. We have developed a biologically accurate 3-D atomic resolution structure of CS based on the suggested composition of the bikunin-specific sequence obtained from the literature. We performed triplicate molecular dynamics (MD) simulations for 500 nanoseconds each on this CS chain and analyzed structural patterns, overall charge, and end-to-end distance. These results have allowed us to develop a 3-D atomic resolution structure of the complete bikunin proteoglycan to be used in future MD simulation of bikunin. | | Faculty Mentor: Olgun... Read More →

Michael Wilczek

Microbiology, 9:15AM-10:30AM
Elucidating the viral mechanisms of JC polyomavirus infection in brain cells critical in viral infection and disease progression | | JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) can establish an asymptomatic persistent lifelong infection in the kidneys in 50% of the population. In individuals who... Read More →

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Christopher Baker

Faculty, The Jackson Laboratory
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Erin Carter

Biomedical Science, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Zebrafish as a Preclinical Model for Dystroglycanopathies Muscular dystrophies are heritable diseases characterized by progressive muscle wasting and weakness. Mutations in molecules that modify the dystroglycan protein cause a subset of muscular dystrophies known as secondary... Read More →

Jeanne DuShane

Molecular and Biomedical Sciences, 1:00PM-2:15PM
MAPK-ERK Regulates Transcription of JC polyomavirus | | JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) infects more than half of the human population and presents as a persistent, lifelong infection in the kidney. In individuals who are immunosuppressed, JCPyV infection can lead to the onset of the fatal, demyelinating disease, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Dynamic interactions between the virus and host cell factors are responsible for driving the infectious life cycle, yet the role of cellular signaling pathways that promote the infectious process remain poorly understood. Previous work demonstrated that the activation of the mitogen associated protein kinase (MAPK) component, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), occurs within minutes of viral attachment and entry into host cells. Our research has elucidated that both the presence and activation of MAPK-ERK is necessary for JCPyV infection. To determine whether ERK activation is essential for specific steps during JCPyV infection, cells were treated chemical inhibitors to reduce ERK activation, and the impact on JCPyV infectivity was assessed. We found that while ERK is activated during the early steps in infection, its activity is not necessary for viral attachment, entry, or trafficking. However, inhibition of ERK activation leads to a significant decrease in both viral gene expression and viral promoter activity as measured using qPCR and viral promoter reporter assays. Thus, MAPK-ERK activation is required for later steps in the viral life cycle including viral transcription. These findings provide a more complete understanding of viral reprograming of host cell signaling pathways like MAPK-ERK, in order to promote infection and viral pathogenesis. | | Faculty Mentor: Melissa... Read More →
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Lindsey Fitzsimons

Biomedical Science, 1:00PM-2:15PM
Detailed in vivo comparison of two Wnt1:Cre models in the investigation of a role for primary cilia of cardiac neural crest cells (cNCC) in heart development. | | PROJECT AIMS: Our laboratory has uncovered a unique cardiac phenotype resulting from the elimination of the prima... Read More →

Emma Fox

Ecology & Environmental Science, 10:45AM-12:00PM
Group Participatory Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (PMCDA) and Dam Decisions | | Dam decision-making can be challenging for riverine stakeholders; in particular, hydropower-regulated rivers have diverse and competing management objectives which complicate the decision-making process. Competing management objectives create a... Read More →

Anne Lichtenwalner

University of Maine Veterinary Diagnostic Lab
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Vicki Losick

Faculty, MDIBL
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Melissa Maginnis

Faculty, UMAINE

Colleen Mayberry

Microbiology, 1:00PM-2:15PM
JC Polyomavirus Utilizes Clathrin-mediated Endocytosis for Infectious Entry | | JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) establishes a lifelong, persistent, asymptomatic primary infection in the kidney in the majority of the human population. In immunocompromised individuals JCPyV disseminates to secondary sites of infection including the central nervous system where it establishes a lytic infection and is the causative agent of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a fatal, demyelinating disease. JCPyV attachment is mediated by the interaction of viral capsid protein 1 (VP1) with... Read More →

Melody Neely

Faculty, UMaine
I study infectious diseases using a zebrafish model. My research interests include analysis of the interactions that occur between the host and pathogen during an infection. We examine this dynamic interaction in real time using microscopy of labeled bacteria and zebrafish immu... Read More →

Monday April 24, 2017 9:15am - 10:30am

Attendees (7)