UMD Undergraduate Research Journal

Volume 3, Issue 1

Efforts Toward Manipulating SMYD Proteins for Bio-orthogonal Profiling of Protein Methylation

Rhiannon Aguilar, Jamie McBean, Joshua Linscott, and Minkui Luo
The SET- and MYND-domain-containing proteins, or SMYDs, are a family of protein lysine methyltransferases (PKMTs) that use the small molecule S-Adenosyl-L-methi- onine (SAM) as a cofactor to methylate various histone and non-histone targets. The Luo Laboratory has recently synthesized several synthetic analogues of SAM that can be utilized by engineered PKMTs to add a tag containing a terminal alkyne group, instead of a methyl group, on their substrates. This allows the modified proteins to react with fluorescent dyes via click chemistry for their detection. [...]

Fluorescent Polarization Assays Quantify Human Mitochondrial Transcription Factor A DNA Binding

Deryck Pearson, Fernanda Lodeiro, Akira Uchida, and Craig E. Cameron
Human mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) is a DNA binding protein responsible for transcription activation in mitochondria. It is also required for DNA compaction into nucleoids and DNA maintenance. TFAM belongs to the high mobility group (HMG) superfamily, containing two HMG boxes and an additional carboxy-terminal domain. To date, quantitative studies addressing DNA binding specificity have not been performed. A detailed understanding of basic events underlying the specific DNA binding of TFAM as a transcription factor and its role in nucleoid formation has yet to be achieved. [...]

Volume 2, Issue 2

Roles of STAT 5 and PI3K in IL-7 Receptor Signal Transduction Pathways

Julia M. Tritapoe, Tiziana Cavinato, Julie A. Hixon, Qiong Jiang, Wen Wing Li, and Scott K. Durum
Signals emanating from the IL-7 receptor (IL-7R) play a critical role in lymphocyte development and are required for peripheral T cell homeostasis. The tyrosine 449 residue (Y449) of the intracellular domain of the IL-7alpha chain (IL-7Ralpha) has previously been shown to be a region essential to the initiation of IL-7 stimulated signal transduction pathways. This study demonstrates that the Y449 residue is phosphorylated upon IL-7 stimulation. It has been hypothesized that signaling pathways including STAT 5 (signal transducer and activator of transcription) and PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases) are activated upon docking to the YVTM (tyrosine, valine, threonine, methionine) motif of the IL-7Ralpha containing [...]

Volume 2, Issue 1

Examining visceral leishmaniasis, a zoonotic parasitic disease:
a review

Veena S. Katikineni, Tinny Lee, Trina T. Hulamm, and David Quinn
The World Health Organization defines Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD?s) as diseases that affect the poorest populations often living in remote rural areas, urban slums, or conflict zones. Transmitted by the phlebotomine sandfly, leishmaniasis is one such disease that is now found in 88 countries around the world, 72 of which are developing countries. Largely a problem for those earning less than $2.00 per day, leishmaniasis debilitates 12 million people from leading productive lives. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is the most severe form of leishmaniasis and is fatal if left untreated. [...]