• Stereoselective synthesis of 5-substituted pyrrolo[1,2-c]imidazol-3-ones. Access to aldosterone synthase inhibitors and chiral precatalysts

      Xu, Shufen; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2010-10-26)
      Compounds containing the pyrrolidine moiety are key substructures of compounds with biological activity and organocatalysts. In particular, annulated chiral pyrrolidines with alpha stereogenic centers have aldostereone synthase inhibition activity. In addition, 5-substituted pyrroloimidazol(in)ium salts precursors to N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) precatalysts are rare due to a lack of convenient synthetic routes to access them. In this thesis is described a rapid synthesis of NHC precursors and a possible route to 5-substituted pyrroloimidazole biologically active compounds. The method involves the preparation of chiral saturated and achiral unsaturated pyrrolo[I,2- c]imidazol-3-ones from N-Cbz-protected t-Butyl proline carboxamide. The resulting starting materials may be used to prepare the target chiral annulated imidazol(in)ium products by a two-step sequence involving first stereoselective lithiation-substitution, followed by POCh induced salt formation.
    • The role of Stl1p in glycerol accumulation in osmotically stressed icewine yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae K1 V1116

      Sauday, Shiri; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2010-10-27)
      The high sugar concentration in Icewine juice exerts hyperosmotic stress in the wine yeast causing water loss and cell shrinkage. To counteract the dehydration, yeast synthesize and accumulate glycerol as an internal osmolyte. In a laboratory strain of S. cerevisiae, STLl encodes for Stllp, an H+ /glycerol symporter that is glucose inactivated, but induced upon hyperosmotic stress. STLl, was found to be a highly upregulated gene in Icewine fermenting cells and its expression was 25-fold greater than in yeast cells fermenting diluted Icewine juice, making it one of the most differentially expressed genes between the two fermentation conditions. In addition, Icewine fermenting cells showed a two-fold higher glycerol production in the wine compared to yeast fermenting diluted Icewine juice. We proposed that Stllp is (1) active during Icewine fermentation and is not glucose inactivated and (2) its activity contributes to the limited cell growth observed during Icewine fermentation as a result of the dissipation of the plasma membrane proton gradient. To measure the contribution ofStl1p in active glycerol transport (energy dependent) during Icewine fermentation, we first developed an Stllp-dependent (14C]glycerol uptake assay using a laboratory strain of S. cerevisiae (BY 4742 and LiSTLl) that was dependent on the plasma membrane proton gradient and therefore energy-dependent. Wine yeast K1-Vll16 was also shown to have this energy dependent glycerol uptake induced under salt stress. The expression of STLl and Stllp activity were compared between yeast cells harvested from Icewine and diluted Icewine fermentations. Northern blot analysis revealed that STLl was expressed in cells fermenting Icewine juice but not expressed under the diluted juice conditions. Glycerol uptake by cells fermenting Icewine juice was not significantly different than cells fermenting diluted Icewine juice on day 4 and day 7 of Vidal and Riesling fermentations respectively, despite encountering greater hyperosmotic stress. Furthermore, energy- dependent glycerol uptake was not detected under either fermentation conditions. Because our findings show that active glycerol uptake was not detected in yeast cells harvested from Icewine fermentation, it is likely that Stllp was glucose inactivated despite the hyperosmotic stress induced by the Icewine juice and therefore did not play a role in active glycerol uptake during Icewine fermentation.
    • (A) Optimization of solid body phase synthesis of RNA using the Cpep chemistry. (B) Synthesis of BODIPY labeled oligonucleotides

      Tram, Kha; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2011-05-17)
      (A) Solid phase synthesis of oligonucleotides are well documented and are extensively studied as the demands continue to rise with the development of antisense, anti-gene, RNA interference, and aptamers. Although synthesis of RNA sequences faces many challenges, most notably the choice of the 2' -hydroxy protecting group, modified 2' -O-Cpep protected ribonucleotides were synthesized as alternitive building blocks. Altering phosphitylation procedures to incorporate 3' -N,N-diethyl phosphoramidites enhanced the overall reactivity, thus, increased the coupling efficiency without loss of integrety. Furthermore, technical optimizations of solid phase synthesis cycles were carried out to allow for successful synthesis of a homo UIO sequences with a stepwise coupling efficiency reaching 99% and a final yield of 91 %. (B) Over the past few decades, dipyrrometheneboron difluoride (BODIPY) has gained recognition as one of the most versatile fluorophores. Currently, BODIPY labeling of oligonucleotides are carried out post-synthetically and to date, there lacks a method that allows for direct incorporation of BODIPY into oligonucleotides during solid phase synthesis. Therefore, synthesis of BODIPY derived phosphoramidites will provide an alternative method in obtaining fluorescently labelled oligonucleotides. A method for the synthesis and incorporation of the BODIPY analogues into oligonucleotides by phosphoramidite chemistry-based solid phase DNA synthesis is reported here. Using this approach, BODIPY-labeled TlO homopolymer and ISIS 5132 were successfully synthesized.
    • Protein subcellular targeting inTrichoderma aggressivum f. aggressivum

      Wang, Tao; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2011-05-17)
      Trichoderma aggressivum f. aggressivum is a filamentous soil fungus. Green mold disease of commercial mushrooms caused by this species in North America has resulted in millions of dollars in lost revenue within the mushroom growing industry. Research on the molecular level of T aggressivum have jus t begun with the goal of understanding the functions of each gene and protein, and their expression control. Protein targeting has not been well studied in this species yet. Therefore, the intent of this study was to test the protein localization and production levels in T aggressivum with green fluorescent protein (GFP) with an intron and tagged with either nuclear localization signal (NLS) or an endoplasmic reticulum retention signal (KDEL). Two GFP constructs (with and without the intron) were used as controls in this study. All four constructs were successfully transferred into T aggressivum and all modified strains showed similar growth characteristics as the wild type non-transformed isolate. GFP expression was detected from all modified T aggressivum with confocal microscopy and the expression was similar in all four strains. The intron tested in this study had no or very minor effects as GFP expression was similar with or without it. The GFP signal increased over a 5 day period for all transformants, while the GFP to total protein ratio decreased over the same period for all transformants. The GFP-KDEL transformant showed similar protein expression level and localization as did the control transformant lacking the KDEL retention signal. The GFP-NLS transformant similarly failed to localize GFP into nucleus as fluorescence with this strain was virtually identical to the GFP transformant lacking the NLS. Thus, future research is required to find effective localization signals for T aggressivum.
    • Study of new yeast strains as novel starter cultures for Riesling icewine production

      Yang, Fei; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2011-10-14)
      Icewine is a sweet dessert wine fermented from the juice of grapes naturally frozen on the vine. The production of Icewine faces many challenges such as sluggish fermentation, which often yields wines with low ethanol, and an accumulation of high concentration of volatile acidity, mainly in the form of acetic acid. This project investigated three new yeast strains as novel starter cultures for Icewine fermentation with particular emphasis on reducing acetic acid production: a naturally occurring strain of S. bayanus/S. pastorianus isolated from Icewine grapes, and two hybrids between S. cerevisiae and S. bayanus, AWRI 1571 and AWRI 1572. These strains were evaluated for sugar consumption patterns and metabolic production of ethanol, glycerol and acetic acid, and were compared to the performance of a standard commercial wine yeast KI-VI116. The ITS rONA region of the two A WRI crosses was also analyzed during fermentations to assess their genomic stability. Icewine fermentations were performed in sterile filtered juice, in the absence of indigenous microflora, and also in unfiltered juice in order to mirror commercial wine making practices. The hybrid A WRI 1572 was found to be a promising candidate as a novel starter culture for Icewine production. I t produced 10.3 % v/v of ethanol in sterile Riesling Icewine fermentations and 11.2 % v/v in the unfiltered ones within a reasonable fermentation time (39 days). Its acetic acid production per gram sugar consumed was approximately 30% lower in comparison with commercial wine yeast K I -V 1116 under both sterile filtered and unfiltered fermentations. The natural isolate S. bayanus/S. pastorianus and AWRI 1571 did not appear to be suitable for commercial Icewine production. They reached the target ethanol concentration of approximately 10 % v/v in 39 day fermentations and also produced less acetic acid as a function of both time and sugar consumed in sterile fermentations compared to KI-V1116. However, in unfiltered fermentations, both of them failed to produce the target concentration of ethanol and accumulated high concentration of acetic acid. Both A WRI crosses displayed higher loss of or reduced copies in ITS rDNA region from the S. bayanus parent compared to the S. cerevisiae parent; however, these genomic losses could not be related to the metabolic profile.
    • The structure of arabidopsis NPR1 : its function as a salicylic acid receptor and a metal-binding protein

      Zhang, Di; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2011-10-14)
      The Arabidopsis NPRI protein regulates systemic acquired resistance dependent on salicylic acid. Analyses by plant two-hybrid analysis in vivo and pull-down assays in vitro showed that the BTB/POZ domain of NPRI at the N-terminus serves as an autoinhibitory domain to negate the function of the transactivation domain at the C-terminus through direct binding of these two domains. I t was also shown that the binding of the BTB/POZ domain to the C-terminus of NPRI was abolished by SA treatment, suggesting that SA could interfere directly with this binding. By gel filtration, it was demonstrated that SA affects the conformation of full-length NPRl , confirming the role of NPRI as an SA receptor. Gel filtration analysis also indicated that NPRI could be converted from an oligomer to a dimer with SA treatment. Furthermore, one N-terminal deletion ~513 has been shown to act as a metal-binding protein and its two Cys-521 and Cys-529 are important for binding to Ni 2 + by pull-down assays.
    • Honey proteins and their interaction with polyphenols

      Alvarez, Liset Maldonado; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2011-10-14)
      This project aimed to determine the protein prof i les and concent rat ion in honeys, ef fect of storage condi t ions on the protein content and the interact ion between proteins and polyphenols. Thi r teen honeys f rom di f ferent botanical or igins were analyzed for thei r protein prof i les using SDS-PAGE, protein concent rat ion and phenol ic content , using the Pierce Protein Assay and Fol in-Ciocal teau methods, respectively. Protein-polyphenol interact ions were analyzed by a combinat ion of the ext ract ion of honeys wi th solvents of di f ferent polar i t ies fol lowed by LCjMS analysis of the obtained f ract ions. Results demonst rated a di f ferent protein content in the tested honeys, wi th buckwheat honey possessing the highest protein concent rat ion. We have shown that the reduct ion of proteins dur ing honey storage was caused, partially, by the protein complexat ion wi th phenolics. The LCjMS analysis of the peak elut ing at retent ion t ime of 10 to 14 min demonst rated that these phenolics included f lavonoids such as Pinobanksin, Pinobanksin acetate, Apigenin, Kaemferol and Myricetin and also cinnamic acid.
    • Elucidation of the components involved in the antioxidant activity of honey

      Miotto, Danielle; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2011-10-14)
      Canadian honeys were analyzed for sugar concentration, honey colour, total phenolic content, the level of brown pigments, and antioxidant activity in order to elucidate the main components involved in the antioxidant activity of honey. By employing size-exclusion chromatography in combination with activity-guided fractionation, it was demonstrated that the antioxidant components are of high molecular weight (HMW), brown in colour and absorb at both 280nm and 450nm. The presence of brown HMW antioxidant components prompted an investigation on the influence of heattreatment on the Maillard reaction and the formation of melanoid ins. Heat-treatment of honey resulted in an increase in the level of phenolics in the melanoidin fractions which correlated with an increase in antioxidant activity. The preliminary results of this study suggest for the first time that honey melanoidins underlie the antioxidant activity of unheated and heat-treated honey, and that phenolic constituents are involved in the melanoidin structure and are likely incorporated by covalent or non-covalent interaction.
    • Synthesis and utilization of guanidine catalysts for applications directed towards the preparation of butenolide and modified amino acid derivatives

      Lupa, Peter; Centre for Biotechnology (2012-07-04)
      Development of guanidine catalysts is explored through direct iminium chloride and amine coupling, alongside a 2-chloro-l,3-dimethyl-IH-imidazol-:-3-ium chloride (DMC) induced thiourea cyclization. Synthesized achiral catalyst N-(5Hdibenzo[ d,t][1,3]diazepin-6(7H)-ylidene)-3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl) aniline proved unsuccessful towards O-acyl migrations, however successfully catalyzed the vinylogous aldol reaction between dicbloro furanone and benzaldehyde. Incorporating chirality into the guanidine catalyst utilizing a (R)-phenylalaninol auxiliary, generating (R)-2-((5Hdibenzo[ d,t] [1,3 ]diazepin-6(7H)-ylidene ) amino )-3 -phenylpropan-l-ol, demonstrated enantioselectivity for a variety of adducts. Highest enantiomeric excess (ee) was afforded between dibromofuranone and p-chlorobenzaldehyde, affording the syn conformation in 96% ee and the anti in 54% ee, with an overall yield of30%. Attempts to increase asymmetric induction were focused on incorporation of axial chirality to the (R)phenylalaninol catalyst using binaphthyl diamine. Incorporation of (S)-binaphthyl exhibited destructive selectivity, whereas incorporation of (R)-binaphthyl demonstrated no effects on enantioselectivity. Current studies are being directed towards identifying the catalytic properties of asymmetric induction with further studies are being aimed towards increasing enantioselectivity by increasing backbone steric bulk.
    • Alternative splicing of DNA polymerase beta in vertebrates

      Bondy-Chorney, Emma; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2012-11-27)
      Alternative splicing (AS) is the predominant mechanism responsible for increasing eukaryotic transcriptome and proteome complexity. In this phenomenon, numerous mRNA transcripts are produced from a single pre-mRNA sequence. AS is reported to occur in 95% of human multi-exon genes; one specific gene that undergoes AS is DNA polymerase beta (POLB). POLB is the main DNA repair gene which performs short patch base excision repair (BER). In primate untransformed primary fibroblast cell lines, it was determined that the splice variant (SV) frequency of POLB correlates positively with species lifespan. To date, AS patterns of POLB have only been examined in mammals primarily through the use of cell lines. However, little attention has been devoted to investigating if such a relationship exists in non-mammals and whether cell lines reflect what is observed in vertebrate tissues. This idea was explored through cloning and characterization of 1,214 POLB transcripts from four non-mammalian species (Gallus gallus domesticus, Larus glaucescens, Xenopus laevis, and Pogona vitticeps) and two mammalian species (Sylvilagus floridanus and Homo sapiens) in two tissue types, liver and brain. POLB SV frequency occurred at low frequencies, < 3.2%, in non-mammalian tissues relative to mammalian (>20%). The highest POLB SV frequency was found in H. sapiens liver and brain tissues, occurring at 65.4% and 91.7%, respectively. Tissue specific AS of POLB was observed in L. glaucescens, P. vitticeps, and H. sapiens, but not G. gallus domesticus, X. laevis and S. floridanus.The AS patterns of a second gene, transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1), were compared to those of POLB in liver and brain tissues of G. gallus domesticus, X. laevis and H. sapiens. This comparison was performed to investigate if any changes (either increase or decrease) observed in the AS of POLB were gene specific or if they were tissue specific, in which case similar changes in AS would be seen in POLB and TRPV1. Analysis did not reveal an increase or decrease in both the AS of POLB and TRPV1 in either the liver or brain tissues of G. gallus domesticus and H. sapiens. This result suggested that the AS patterns of POLB were not influenced by tissue specific rates of AS. Interestingly, an increase in the AS of both genes was only observed in X. laevis brain tissue. This result suggests that AS in general may be increased in the X. laevis brain as compared to liver tissue. No positive correlation between POLB SV frequency and species lifespan was found in non-mammalian tissues. The AS patterns of POLB in human primary untransformed fibroblast cell lines were representative of those seen in human liver tissue but not in brain tissue. Altogether, the AS patterns of POLB from vertebrate tissues and primate cell lines revealed a positive correlation between POLB SV frequency and lifespan in mammals, but not in non-mammals. It appears that this positive correlation does not exist in vertebrate species as a whole.
    • The Terroir of Winter Hardiness: Investigation of Winter Hardiness, Water Metrics, and Yield of Riesling and Cabernet Franc in the Niagara Region Using Geomatic Technologies

      Jasinski, Mary; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2013-01-11)
      Grapevine winter hardiness is a key factor in vineyard success in many cool climate wine regions. Winter hardiness may be governed by a myriad of factors in addition to extreme weather conditions – e.g. soil factors (texture, chemical composition, moisture, drainage), vine water status, and yield– that are unique to each site. It was hypothesized that winter hardiness would be influenced by certain terroir factors , specifically that vines with low water status [more negative leaf water potential (leaf ψ)] would be more winter hardy than vines with high water status (more positive leaf ψ). Twelve different vineyard blocks (six each of Riesling and Cabernet franc) throughout the Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada were chosen. Data were collected during the growing season (soil moisture, leaf ψ), at harvest (yield components, berry composition), and during the winter (bud LT50, bud survival). Interpolation and mapping of the variables was completed using ArcGIS 10.1 (ESRI, Redlands, CA) and statistical analyses (Pearson’s correlation, principal component analysis, multilinear regression) were performed using XLSTAT. Clear spatial trends were observed in each vineyard for soil moisture, leaf ψ, yield components, berry composition, and LT50. Both leaf ψ and berry weight could predict the LT50 value, with strong positive correlations being observed between LT50 and leaf ψ values in eight of the 12 vineyard blocks. In addition, vineyards in different appellations showed many similarities (Niagara Lakeshore, Lincoln Lakeshore, Four Mile Creek, Beamsville Bench). These results suggest that there is a spatial component to winter injury, as with other aspects of terroir, in the Niagara region.
    • TGA2 dual activity: N-terminus regulation of reversible DNA binding influenced by NPRI and CK2

      Bigby, Christina; Centre for Biotechnology (2013-02-22)
      TGA2 is a dual-function Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR) transcription factor involved in the activation and repression of pathogenesis-related (PR) genes. Recent studies have shown that TGA2 is able to switch from a basal repressor to activator, likely, through regulatory control from its N-terminus. The N-terminus has also been shown to affect DNA binding of the TGA2 bZIP domain when phosphorylated by Casein Kinase II (CK2). The mechanisms involved for directing a switch from basal repressor to activator, and the role of kinase activity, have not previously been looked at in detail. This study provides evidence for the involvement of a CK2-like kinase in the switch of TGA2 activity from repressor to activator, by regulating the DNA-binding activity of TGA2 by phosphorylating residues in the N terminus of the protein.
    • The analysis of Metarhizium robertsii potential as endophytic plant root coloniser, plant growth enhancer and antagonist to bean root pathogen Fusarium solani f. sp. phaseolis.

      Sasan, Ramanpreet Kaur; Centre for Biotechnology (2013-04-15)
      The soil-inhabiting insect-pathogenic fungus Metarhizium robertsii also colonizes plant roots endophytically, thus showing potential as a plant symbiont. M robertsii is not randomly distributed in soils but preferentially associates with the plant rhizosphere when applied in agricultural settings. Root surface and endophytic colonization of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and haricot beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) by M robertsii were examined after inoculation with fungal conidia. Light and confocal microscopies were used to ascertain this rhizosphere association. Root lengths, root hair density and emergence of lateral roots were also measured. Initially, M robertsii conidia adhered to, germinated on, and colonized, roots. Furthermore, plant roots treated with Metarhizium grew faster and the density of plant root hairs increased when compared with control plants. The onset of plant root hair proliferation was initiated before germination of M robertsii on the root (within 1-2 days). Plants inoculated with M robertsii AMAD2 (plant adhesin gene) took significantly longer to show root hair proliferation than the wild type. Cell free extracts of M robertsii did not stimulate root hair proliferation. Longer term (60 days) associations showed that M robertsii endophytically colonized individual cortical cells within bean roots. Metarhizium appeared as an amorphous mycelial aggregate within root cortical cells as well as between the intercellular spaces with no apparent damage to the plant. These results suggested that not only is M robertsii rhizosphere competent but displays a beneficial endophytic association with plant roots that results in the proliferation of root hairs. The biocontrol of bean (Phaseolis vulgaris) root rot fungus Fusarium solani f. sp. phaseolis by Metarhizium robertsii was investigated in vitro and in vivo. Dual cultures on Petri dishes showed antagonism of M robertsii against F. solani. A relative inhibition of ca. 60% of F. solani growth was observed in these assays. Cell free culture filtrates of M robertsii inhibited the germination of F. solani conidia by 83% and the inhibitory metabolite was heat stable. Beans plants colonized by M robertsii then exposed to F. solani showed healthier plant profiles and lower disease indices compared to plants not colonized by M robertsii. These results suggested that the insect pathogenic/endophytic fungus M robertsii could also be utilized as a biocontrol agent against certain plant pathogens occurring in the rhizosphere.
    • Localization of monoterpenoid indole alkaloid (MIA) biosynthesis by in situ hybridization (ISH)

      Edmunds, Elizabeth; Centre for Biotechnology (2013-05-07)
      Monoterpenoid indole alkaloids (MIA) are among the largest and most complex group of nitrogen containing secondary metabolites that are characteristic of the Apocynaceae plant family including the most notable Catharanthus roseus. These compounds have demonstrated activity as successful drugs for treating various cancers, neurological disorders and cardiovascular conditions. Due to the low yields of these compounds and high pharmacological value, their biosynthesis is a major topic of study. Previous work highlighting the leaf epidermis and leaf surface as a highly active area in MIA biosynthesis and MIA accumulation has made the epidermis a major focus of this thesis. This thesis provides an in-depth analysis of the valuable technique of RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) and demonstrates the application of the technique to analyze the location of the biosynthetic steps involved in the production of MIAs. The work presented in this thesis demonstrates that most of the MIAs of Eurasian Vinca minor, African Tabernaemontana e/egans and five Amsonia species, including North American Amsonia hubrichitii and Mediterranean A. orienta/is, accumulate in leaf wax exudates, while the rest of the leaf is almost devoid of alkaloids. Biochemical studies on Vinca minor displayed high tryptophan decarboxylase (TOe) enzyme activity and protein expression in the leaf epidermis compared to whole leaves. ISH studies aimed at localizing TOe and strictosidine synthase suggest the upper and lower epidermis of V. minor and T. e/egans as probable significant production sites for MIAs that will accumulate on the leaf surface, however the results don't eliminate the possibility of the involvement of other cell types. The monoterpenoid precursor to all MIAs, secologanin, is produced through the MEP pathway occurring in two cell types, the IPAP cells (Gl0H) and epidermal cells (LAMT and SLS). The work presented in this thesis, localizes a novel enzymatic step, UDPG-7-deoxyloganetic acid glucosyltransferase (UGT8) to the IPAP cells of Catharanthus longifolius. These results enable the suggestion that all steps from Gl0H up to and including UGT8 occur in the IPAP cells of the leaf, making the IPAP cells the main site for the majority of secologanin biosynthesis. It also makes the IPAP cells a likely cell type to begin searching for the gene of the uncharacterized steps between Gl0H and UGT8. It also narrows the compound to be transported from the IPAP cells to either 7-deoxyloganic acid or loganic acid, which aids in the identification of the transportation mechanism.
    • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerases Evolve From Reverse Transcriptase

      Zhang, Lei; Centre for Biotechnology (2013-05-07)
      Scientists have been debating for decades the origin of life on earth. A number of hypotheses were proposed as to what emerged first RNA or DNA; with most scientists are in favour of the "RNA World" hypothesis. Assuming RNA emerged first, it fellow that the RNA polymerases would've appeared before DNA polymerases. Using recombinant DNA technology and bioinformatics we undertook this study to explore the relationship between RNA polymerases, reverse transcriptase and DNA polymerases. The working hypothesis is that DNA polymerases evolved from reverse transcriptase and the latter evolved from RNA polymerases. If this hypothesis is correct then one would expect to find various ancient DNA polymerases with varying level of reverse transcriptase activity. In the first phase of this research project multiple sequence alignments were made on the protein sequence of 32 prokaryotic DNA-directed DNA polymerases originating from 11 prokaryotic families against 3 viral reverse transcriptase. The data from such alignments was not very conclusive. DNA polymerases with higher level of reverse transcriptase activity were non-confined to ancient organisms, as one would've expected. The second phase of this project was focused on conditions that may alter the DNA polymerase activity. Various reaction conditions, such as temperature, using various ions (Ni2+, Mn2+, Mg2+) were tested. Interestingly, it was found that the DNA polymerase from the Thermos aquatics family can be made to copy RNA into DNA (i.e. reverse transcriptase activity). Thus it was shown that under appropriate conditions (ions and reactions temperatures) reverse transcriptase activity can be induced in DNA polymerase. In the third phase of this study recombinant DNA technology was used to generate a chimeric DNA polymerase; in attempts to identify the region(s) of the polymerase responsible for RNA-directed DNA polymerase activity. The two DNA polymerases employed were the Thermus aquatic us and Thermus thermophiles. As in the second phase various reaction conditions were investigated. Data indicated that the newly engineered chimeric DNA polymerase can be induced to copy RNA into DNA. Thus the intrinsic reverse transcriptase activity found in ancient DNA polymerases was localized into a domain and can be induced via appropriate reaction conditions.
    • Human Endogenous Retrovirus (HERV) Insertional Polymorphisms

      Golem, Scott Matthew Bradley; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2013-08-07)
      Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are the result of ancient germ cell infections of human germ cells by exogenous retroviruses. HERVs belong to the long terminal repeat (LTR) group of retrotransposons that comprise ~8% of the human genome. The majority of the HERVs documented have been truncated and/or incurred lethal mutations and no longer encode functional genes; however a very small number of HERVs seem to maintain functional in making new copies by retrotranspositon as suggested by the identification of a handful of polymorphic HERV insertions in human populations. The objectives of this study were to identify novel insertion of HERVs via analysis of personal genomic data and survey the polymorphism levels of new and known HERV insertions in the human genome. Specifically, this study involves the experimental validation of polymorphic HERV insertion candidates predicted by personal genome-based computation prediction and survey the polymorphism level within the human population based on a set of 30 diverse human DNA samples. Based on computational analysis of a limited number of personal genome sequences, PCR genotyping aided in the identification of 15 dimorphic, 2 trimorphic and 5 fixed full-length HERV-K insertions not previously investigated. These results suggest that the proliferation rate of HERVKs, perhaps also other ERVs, in the human genome may be much higher than we previously appreciated and the recently inserted HERVs exhibit a high level of instability. Throughout this study we have observed the frequent presence of additional forms of genotypes for these HERV insertions, and we propose for the first time the establishment of new genotype reporting nomenclature to reflect all possible combinations of the pre-integration site, solo-LTR and full-length HERV alleles.
    • Methoxypyrazine removal in grape juice: Development of a removal system using odorant and pheromone binding proteins coupled with bentonite fining

      Humes, Eric Fabian; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2013-08-08)
      Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetles (MALB) and 7-spot Lady Beetles that infect vineyards can secrete alkyl-methoxypyrazines when they are processed with the grapes, resulting in wines containing a taint. The main methoxypyrazine associated with this taint is 3-isopropyl-2-methoxypyrazine (IPMP). The wines are described as having aroma and flavours of peanut butter, peanut shells, asparagus and earthy which collectively, have become known as “ladybug taint”. To date, there are no known fining agents used commercially added to juice or wine that are effective in removing this taint. The goal of this project was to use previously identified proteins with an ability to bind to methoxypyrazines at low pH, and subsequently develop a binding assay to test the ability of these proteins to bind to and remove methoxypyrazines from grape juice. The piglet odorant binding protein (plOBP) and mouse major urinary protein (mMUP) were identified, cloned and expressed in the Pichia pastoris expression system. Protein expression was induced using methanol and the proteins were subsequently purified from the induction media using anion exchange chromatography. The purified proteins were freeze-dried and rehydrated prior to use in the methoxypyrazine removal assay. The expression and purification system resulted in yields of approximately 78% of purified plOBP and 62% of purified mMUP from expression to rehydration. Purified protein values were 87 mg of purified plOPB per litre of induction media and 19 mg of purified mMUP per litre of induction medium. In order to test the ability of the protein to bind to the MPs, an MP removal assay was developed. In the assay, the purified protein is incubated with either IPMP or 3-isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine (IBMP) for two hours in either buffer or grape juice. Bentonite is then used to capture the protein-MP complex and the bentonite-protein-MP complex is then removed from solution by filtration. Residual MP is measured in solution following the MP removal assay and compared to that in the starting solution by Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS). GC/MS results indicated that the mMUP was capable of removing IBMP and IPMP from 300 ng/L in buffer pH 4.0, buffer pH 3.5 and Riesling Juice pH 3.5 down to the limit of quantification of the instrument, which is 6ng/L and 2ng/L for IBMP and IPMP, respectively. The results for the plOBP showed that although it could remove some IBMP, it was only approximately 50-70 ng/L more than bentonite treatment followed by filtration, resulting in approximately 100 ng/L of the MPs being left in solution. pIOBP was not able to remove IPMP in buffer pH 3.5 using this system above that removed by bentonite alone. As well, the pIOBP was not able to remove any additional MPs from Chardonnay juice pH 3.5 above that already removed by the bentonite and filtration alone. The mouse MUP was shown to be a better candidate protein for removal of MPs from juice using this system.

      Moreno Luna, Luis Hugo; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2014-02-13)
      This study analyzed the use of two viticultural practices: “crop level” (half crop; HC, and full crop; FC) and “hang times”, and their impact on the composition of four grape cultivars; Pinot gris, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Niagara Region and wine volatile composition by GC-MS. It was hypothesized that keeping a full crop with a longer hang time would have a greater impact on wine quality than reducing the crop level. In all cultivars, a reduction of crop level induced reductions in yield, clusters per vine and crop load, with increases in Brix. Extended hang time also increased Brix related to desiccation. The climatic conditions at harvest had an impact on hang time effects. The GC-MS analysis detected the presence of 30 volatile components in the wine, with different odour activity values. Harvest time had a positive impact than crop reduction in almost all compounds.
    • Hyperosmotic Stress and the Impact on Metabolite Formation and Redox Balance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces bayanus strains

      Heit, Caitlin; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2014-02-21)
      Wine produced using an appassimento-type process represents a new and exciting innovation for the Ontario wine industry. This process involves drying grapes that have already been picked from the vine, which increases the sugar content due to dehydration and induces a variety of changes both within and on the surface of the grapes. Increasing sugar contents in musts subject wine yeast to conditions of high osmolarity during alcoholic fermentations. Under these conditions, yeast growth can be inhibited, target alcohol levels may not be attained and metabolic by-products of the hyperosmotic stress response, including glycerol and acetic acid, may impact wine composition. The further metabolism of acetic acid to acetylCoA by yeast facilitates the synthesis of ethyl acetate, a volatile compound that can also impact wine quality if present in sufficiently high concentrations. The first objective of this project was to understand the effect of yeast strain and sugar concentration on fermentation kinetics and metabolite formation, notably acetic acid and ethyl acetate, during fermentation in appassimento-type must. Our working hypotheses were that (1) the natural isolate Saccharomyces bayanus would produce less acetic acid and ethyl acetate compared to Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain EC-1118 fermenting the high and low sugar juices; (2) the wine produced using the appassimento process would contain higher levels of acetic acid and lower levels of ethyl acetate compared to table wine; (3) and the strains would be similar in the kinetic behavior of their fermentation performances in the high sugar must. This study determined that the S. bayanus strain produced significantly less acetic acid and ethyl acetate in the appassimento wine and table wine fermentations. Differences in acetic acid and ethyl acetate production were also observed within strains fermenting the two sugar conditions. Acetic acid production was higher in table wine fermented by S. bayanus as no acetic acid was produced in appassimento-style wine, and 1.4-times higher in appassimento wine fermented by EC-1118 over that found in table wine. Ethyl acetate production was 27.6-times higher in table wine fermented by S. bayanus, and 5.2-times higher by EC-1118, compared to that in appassimento wine. Sugar utilization and ethanol production were comparable between strains as no significant differences were determined. The second objective of this project was to bring a method in-house for measuring the concentration of pyridine nucleotides, NAD+, NADP+, NADH and NADPH, in yeast cytosolic extract. Development of this method is of applicative interest for our lab group as it will enable the redox balance of the NAD+/ NADH and NADP+/ NADPH systems to be assessed during high sugar fermentations to determine their respective roles as metabolic triggers for acetic acid production. Two methods were evaluated in this study including a UV-endpoint method using a set of enzymatic assay protocols outlined in Bergmeyer (1974) and a colorimetric enzyme cycling method developed by Sigma-Aldrich® using commercial kits. The former was determined to be limited by its low sensitivity following application to yeast extract and subsequent coenzyme analyses, while the latter was shown to exhibit greater sensitivity. The results obtained from the kits indicated high linearity, accuracy and precision of the analytical method for measuring NADH and NADPH, and that it was sensitive enough to measure the low coenzyme concentrations present in yeast extract samples. NADtotal and NADPtotal concentrations were determined to be above the lower limit of quantification and within the range of the respective calibration curves, making this method suitable for our research purposes.
    • Lipase-Mediated Enzymatic Catalysis For The Synthesis of New Chiral Polymers

      Naoum, Ravi; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2015-01-21)
      Immobilized lipase B from Candida antarctica (N435) was investigated as a potential biocatalyst to generate silicone-based chiral polymers from monomers derived from the enzymatic dihydroxylation of bromobenzene. Several conditions and parameters have been investigated for this purpose and lipase transesterification preference to each of the free secondary alcohols in the chiral monomers was documented. The N435 was challenged with a series of substrates where the free alcohol moieties were systematically protected in order to study the substrate preference(s) for the transesterification reactions.