2013 Mid-SURE Participants

  • Spotlight
The Mid-Michigan Symposium for Undergraduate Research Experiences (Mid-SURE)  was held on July 24 in MSU's Breslin Center. Mid-SURE (former SURF) brought together undergraduate students from diverse academic disciplines to present their research in an academic setting. Students presented posters to the university community, and received constructive feedback from faculty and graduate students on their research and presentation abilities.  Over 250 students participated in this year's forum, including the following Drew Scholars:

 

ANALYSIS OF A HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP DIET ON NEURONAL PROLIFERATION IN MICE

Misty Harden(Back to top)

Neurogenesis is crucial throughout one’s life for injury recovery as well as sustaining brain function and perception. Not much research has been published on the effects of the diet on neurogenesis, motivating the research presented in this article. High fructose corn syrup is becoming more prevalent in Western diets, even though it is linked to neurological issues such as depression. We explored the effects of a high fructose diet on cell proliferation in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the brain. 12 6- 8 week old male c57 B/L6 mice were randomly separated into two groups (n=6) and fed either normal chow or a 60% fructose diet for 4 weeks. Their body weight, water, and food intake was monitored Monday to Friday. On the last day of treatment, all mice received one 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine injection 2 hours before tissue collection. The mice were cardiac perfused with 4% paraformaldehyde followed by 0.1M phosphate buffer solution. The brains were post-fixed overnight with the PFA then cryoprotected with 10% sucrose. The brain was snap frozen, and coronal section of brain including SVZ (40μM) was collected. Immunohistochemistry using antibodies against BrdU was performed. We will quantify the number of cells incorportated with BrdU in brains from both the control and the high fructose group, and, using a student’s t-test, analyze whether or not the high fructose diet created significant change in the amount of proliferating cells compared to control. We predict that the high fructose will

"BEE-HAVIOR": AN EXPERIENCE IN THE INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY OF SOCIAL BEHAVIORS AT MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

John Kochiss(Back to top)

The waggle dances of forager honey bees (Apis mellifera) returning to the hive indicate the location of a resource to nestmates who follow the dancer's movements. We hypothesized that dances indicating a specific resource would start and end around the same time, allowing followers who lose a dancer more options for accessing the information in the dance. If so, the latency for followers to switch dancers would be shorter with increased proximity to other dancers. We analyzed footage from observation hives for the presence of temporal dance clustering and its use by follower bees. The hives contained free-flying, unmarked bees who foraged at natural food sources. We used frame-by-frame analysis of videos in Quicktime 7 to measure dance angles of bees and estimate duration of waggle runs, allowing us to determine which dances point to the same resource. Then we examined the comparative start and end times for these dances and how follower behavior related to dancer proximity. The results may have implications for the overall understanding of dance synchrony and communication within honey bee hives.

DOES AGING AFFECT K+-INDUCED DILATION OF RESISTANCE ARTERIES FROM C57BL-6 MICE?

Jessica Pettis (Back to top)

Myogenic tone of smooth muscle cells in small arteries regulates tissue blood flow and contributes to the regulation of blood pressure. Skeletal muscle blood flow regulation is impaired with aging. Elevated extracellular K+ has been proposed to mediate vasodilation during exercise. We hypothesized that aging would reduce resistance artery dilation to elevated extracellular K+. We dissected arteries from abdominal muscles from young (3 months) or aged (24 months) mice, and transferred them to a cannulation chamber. The arteries were cannulated with micropipettes and tied with nylon monofilament sutures. Vessels were imaged using an inverted microscope coupled to a video camera. Vessels were pressurized to 80 cm H2O and the internal diameters were measured before and during exposure to 15 mM K+ solutions. Maximal diameters were assessed by exposing the arteries to solutions containing 0 mM Ca2+. We found that the maximum diameter of the arteries were not significantly different in young (179 ± 13 μm) and aged (156 ± 6 μm) mice (n=3). Myogenic tone (young = 15 ± 4% vs. aged = 20 ± 9%) and dilation in response to K+ (young = 50 ± 9% vs. aged = 76 ± 9%) were also similar between vessels from young and aged mice. Our preliminary results contradict our initial hypothesis that K+-induced dilation is impaired in aged mice. Student Support: NIH grant R25-HL103156 Research Support: NIH Grant HL086483

Biological Sciences

INTERACTIONS BETWEEN TGF-BETA PROTEINS

Jalen Adams(Back to top)

The NODAL gene plays a key role in a number of processes during embryogenesis, including cell growth, cell differentiation, and apoptosis. However, there are also major medical implications associated with the NODAL-gene (NDG). Because NDG is often over-expressed in many people, it can turn on unnecessary or unwanted cellular growth, hence its connection to certain forms of cancer. The Nodal protein, coded by the NODAL-gene, belongs to the Transforming Growth Factor (TGFBeta) family of proteins. Studies have found that this protein plays a large role in the reproduction and regulation of stem cells in developing endoderm. Problems begin to occur when the NODAL-gene is re-activated after endoderm development, inducing the onset of cancer. Our goal is to create a molecular interaction map of the TGF-Beta signaling pathway, with an emphasis on Nodal. Understanding of this pathway will allow the development of inhibitors for use in medications and cancer treatments. My research methods consist primarily of the purification of TGF-Beta proteins. This will allow for the study of these proteins individually in controlled environments. Standard techniques such as dialysis, gel electrophoresis, and affinity chromatography will be used. Other methods, such as ammonium sulfate precipitation and protease tests, will be implemented based on the protein being studied. Once these proteins have been purified, they will be tested against the Nodal protein to see if they interact. The specifics of how they interact and the results of these interactions will be covered in future research.

THE GOLDEN RATIO: OBSERVED IN THE HUMAN BODY

Briana Byrd(Back to top)

Leonardo Da Vinci believed that the human body was made of equal proportions, one of them being arm length: shoulder width equaled to the golden ratio, 1.61803398875. That is the bases for my research; using height and arm span, and finding the correlation between the two. Other proportions used were height, navel-feet, and arm span to compare to Da Vinci's theory. Finally, the mean proportion from each was put to a hypothesis test to determine significance of equaling the golden ratio or not.

PESTICIDE TRAINING AND PREVALENCE OF DIABETES IN MICHIGAN MIGRANT HEAD START MOTHERS

Cierra Coe(Back to top)

Background: Previous published articles have reported higher levels of organochlorine pesticides in Mexican Americans and this may potentially be a great influence in having more than a fifty percent chance of developing diabetes in non-white Hispanics. This has sparked the interest to develop more research on pesticides in order to get a better understanding between pesticide training and developing diabetes in reproductive aged women. There are seven specific pesticides commonly found in correlation with diabetes in Mexican-Americans which are as follows: aldrin, chlordane, heptachlor, dichlorvos, trichlorfon, alachlor, and cyanazine. The goal of our study is to evaluate the association between pesticide training and prevalence of diabetes in Michigan Migrant Head Start mothers. Methods/Results: Michigan Migrant Head Start mothers (n=99) who had completed Telamon Corporation/March of Dimes 2012 Health Families/Healthy Babies Survey were included in the data collection. A Chi-Square test will be performed to evaluate the relationship between pesticide training and the prevalence of diabetes. All statistical analyses will be performed using SAS 9.3. Support: C.C. is a REPID scholar with training support from an NIH award to Elahé Crockett, REPID Program Director.

P2 RECEPTOR IS INVOLVED IN ATP INDUCED MESENTERIC ARTERIAL CONSTRICTION IN NORMOTENSIVE AND DOCA-SALT HYPERTENSIVE RATS

Mary Lian(Back to top)

Introduction: Diameter of mesenteric arteries (MA) which is an important determinant of blood pressure (BP) is mainly controlled by sympathetic nerves (SN). SN co-release norepinephrine (NE) and ATP to constrict arterial smooth muscle cells (SMCs), increasing BP. Pannexin channel-1 is an ATP permeable hemichannel that mediates ATP released from SMCs in response to alpha1-adrenergic receptors (AR) by NE. ATP (P2YR agonist) is released and acts back on SMCs for further constriction. Objective: We investigated pannexin-1 role on MA constriction by testing ATP, phenylephrine (PE, α1-AR agonist) and KCl in pressurized MA from normotensive and DOCA-salt hypertensive rats with or without PPADs (P2R antagonist) in vitro. Methods: Blood vessel constriction by ATP, PE and KCl were recorded with pressurized myograph coupled with video microscopy before and after adding PPADs. Results: PE and KCl concentration response curves were similar with or without PPADs in MA from normotensive and hypertensive rats. However, PPADs significantly shifted ATP concentration response curves to the right in MA of both rats. Conclusions: PPADs did not significantly inhibit PE-induced constriction, but ATP-induced constriction was significantly inhibited. We conclude that α1-AR mediated constrictions of rat MA are not caused by ATP released from SMCs to act on PPADs sensitive P2R. Future studies will use antagonists of other SMCs ATR receptors in an effort to inhibit PE-induced constriction. Support: M.L. is a REPID scholar with training support from an NIH award to Elahé Crockett, REPID Program Director.

THE DIFFERENTIAL EXPRESSION BETWEEN MOLGULA OCCULTA AND MOLGULA OCULATA

Ian Mahone(Back to top)

Molgula occulta and Molgula oculata are translucent tunicates with two protruding siphons that are generally found attached to either slow moving objects or organisms. Not to mention, they are also found on sandy shore bottoms, rock, docks, etc. Even though these two organisms share a lot in common, they have a key difference. That difference being that during the early developmental stages M. oculata has a tail, while M. occulta does not. Which leads me into my project of why one species has a tail and the other species does not. By quality trimming raw reads and running them through digital normalization pipeline, we will have a reduced data set with less error but essentially the same amount of information. These reads can then be de novo assembled in the cloud computing system using programs such as Velvet/Oases. From there we will have a transcriptome for each species. Once the transcriptomes are assembled, we can then annotate them using a more studied tunicate, Ciona intestinalis. With annotated transcriptomes we can then identify the absence or presence of the genes using blast. Furthermore, by taking those annotated transcriptomes we would generate expression counts by using programs like Bowtie, Tophat, and HT seq. With the use of the count data we will conduct differential expression analysis between the two species, using the statistical programming platform R to show the genetic difference between these two species, which will help us derive why one is tailed and why the other is not.

STRESS AXIS ACTIVATION BY EXPOSURE TO OZONE IS AFFECTED IN THE BACKGROUND OF DIETINDUCED OBESITY

Audrey Meredith(Back to top)

Background: Studies have demonstrated that exposure to ozone (O3) can induce cardiovascular disorders in humans. It is likely that such cardiovascular disturbances are linked to activation of the stress axis. However, there are no studies examining the effects of O3 exposure on stress axis activity. We hypothesized that O3 exposures in animals would cause an increase in stress axis activity. Since cardiovascular diseases are associated with obesity, we were interested in determining if O3 exposures in obese animals would result in further activation of the stress axis. Methods/Results: Adult male Sprague Dawley rats were placed on a normal or high fructose diet for 6-weeks. One group was also treated with Metformin to manage blood glucose levels. After six weeks of treatment, they were exposed to either ozone or air for 5 days. Twenty-four hours after the last exposure, animals were euthanized, their brains harvested, frozen, sectioned and micro dissected. Different brain nuclei associated with stress axis activity such as the paraventricular nucleus, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, Central amygdala etc., were analyzed for neurotransmitters that increase stress axis activity using HPLC-EC. We anticipate the results will demonstrate that exposure to O3 does increase neurotransmitter levels in these nuclei suggesting activation of the stress axis. We also expect that stress axis activity will further increase in obese animals after O3 exposure. Treatment with Metformin is expected to counter these effects. Support: A.M. is a REPID scholar with training support from an NIH award to Elahé Crockett, REPID Program Director.

DOES RELIGION AND EDUCATION BACKGROUND AFFECT STUDENT PERCEPTIONS OF EVOLUTION?

Lazarius Miller(Back to top)

Evolution is the study of changes in the heritable traits of a population of organisms as successive generations replace one another. It would be beneficial to study evolution because the world and its inhabitants are always changing, where developments in new biological phenomena continue to emerge such as antibiotic resistance and inheritance of genetic diseases. The general attitude towards science careers in the United States is positive. However, many students in elementary through high school are not performing at higher levels of critical thinking. Research suggests high school students are not being sufficiently prepared to perform well in areas of critical thinking. Assessing if religious orientation is a dependent variable on educational perspectives will help determine a baseline for why some students are more receptive to evolutionary theories. This study will examine the relationships between student attitudes towards science and evolution as a function of religious beliefs and the access to supplemental education resources. This experiment will use surveys distributed to high school students enrolled in the BEACON Residential Summer Program. The survey entitled Evolutionary Concepts Questionnaire (ECQ) consists of three segments (demographics, education background, and an evolutionary survey) that will be used to evaluate any relationships between the factors of religion and evolution and educational background and evolution. The hypothesized results are that there will be a correlation between religion and evolution and educational background and evolution. These results may ultimately help science educators develop a method of teaching science more effectively and equitably.

SPONTANEOUS HYPERTENSIVE STROKE PRONE RATS TESTING VASCULAR COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT ACROSS VARIED AGES.

Guillermo Moreno (Back to top)

The carotid arteries supply 80% of oxygenated blood to the head and neck in humans. Damage to these arteries could lead to a reduction of blood flow an induce stroke. Stroke has been associated with Vascular Cognitive Impairment. (VCI). The Spontaneously Hypertensive Stroke Prone Rat (SHR&SP) is the strain that has been used to investigate brain damage, shortterm memory loss, and treatments for it. We hypothesize that SHR-SP strain will become more cognitively impaired with increased age and this will associated with decreased dilation in the carotid arteries. Blood loss correlation to VCI has been observed in both humans and the SHR&SP strain. This study will also be testing the cognitive impairment of the strain by the elevated cross maze and the novel object test. A control of normotensive Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats will be used for comparison. The purpose of this experiment is to study the vascular reactivity of the carotid artery on the SHR-SP strain at different ages when incubated with L-NAME. The strain will be tested for concentrations from 10-7M to 10-2M of Acetylcholine (ACh), incubated with 10-2M of L-NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester (L-NAME) among ages. Studies suggest that this is a suitable model for Vascular Brain Disorder (VBD). We will also examine the force of constriction of vascular tissues incubated with ACh & L-NAME. We will assess the involvement of Nitric Oxide in the cognitive decline as well as state that these tissues will contract more than SHR-SP tissues without incubation as means of hypertensive regulation.

Incipient Speciation in an Experimental Population of E.Coli.

Maia Rowles(Back to top)

Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. The most fundamental aspect of evolutionary processes is speciation. The potential discovery of a new species is significant because it suggests that the species has surpassed past limitations and explored new niches. This experiment primarily investigated the speciation aspects of evolution in strain B Escherichia coli. Over the course of a long term evolutionary experiment, evidence has shown a change in the species’ behavior where surviving on citrate under oxic conditions has become more valuable over time. This long term evolutionary experiment (LTEE) began in 1988 with Dr. Richard Lenski's research commencement of twelve identical populations of E.Coli. E. coli is defined as a species in part by its inability to grow on citrate when oxygen is present. However, during the course of the LTEE, a mutant capable of growing aerobically on citrate (Cit+) evolved. Previous work has shown that the Cit+ lineage has gained fitness on citrate while losing fitness on glucose, suggesting that the value of the Cit+ trait has increased over time. Here I present an experiment aimed at testing this prediction. If the obtained results indicate that Cit+ is a new species, than we can study the mutations that allowed for this to happen.

EFFECT OF CANRENOIC ACID ON ANGIOGENESIS AND MICROGLIAL ACTIVATION IN HYPOPERFUSED RATS

Kristina Savage(Back to top)

Background: Vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) is a disorder that includes a wide range of cognitive impairments caused by various types of cerebrovascular disease. Bilateral carotid artery occlusion (BCAO), is a model of cerebral hypoperfusion that leads to VCI. Methods/Results: BCAO was carried out in 20 week old Long Evans rats. VCI was verified using the Morris water maze and novel object recognition test. Because of the limited treatment options available to treat VCI we tested the hypothesis that mineralcorticoid receptor (MR) antagonism with canrenoic acid will prevent VCI. Studies suggest that MR antagonists protect against ischemic injury by promoting the expression of neuroprotective and angiogenic factors as well as remodeling cerebral artery structure to enhance blood flow. Therefore, we propose that canrenoic acid will lead to increased angiogenesis, reduced microglial activation, and improved cognitive function after BCAO. To inhibit mineralcorticoid activation, canrenoic acid was administered to one group of BCAO rats. BCAO reduces blood flow through the carotid arteries and the middle cerebral arteries. Reduced cerebral blood flow has been linked to microglial activation and oxidative stress. To look for evidence of this, brain samples taken from three regions will be stained for endothelial cells and activated microglia. Cognitive function post-BCAO will also be tested as described above. Support: K.S. is a REPID scholar with training support from an NIH award to Elahé Crockett, REPID Program Director.

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: EDUCATION AND ETHNICITY

Andie Williams(Back to top)

This research project involves looking at three specific cardiovascular diseases. I looked at heart attacks, diabetes, and strokes. With these three, I compared level of education. I took each disease and looked at how likely a person with no high school diploma, a high school diploma, and a collegiate degree was to get each disease. With ethnicity, I took Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics and also compared their chances of getting each diseases. To do my calculations, I used a chi- square test to find my p- value.

Genetics

EFFECTS ON CHROMATIN STRUCTURE AT TRANSCRIPTIONAL REGULATORY ELEMENTS OF MOUSE MACROPHAGES UPON C/EBP INHIBITION

Lucas Fix(Back to top)

Chromatin architecture is thought to have a major effect on gene regulation. Cell-type specific transcription factors like (C/EBP), which is required for macrophage development and function, could affect nucleosome positioning, phasing, and occupancy at transcriptional regulatory sites. These kind of modifications could are involved in cell identity and cell type specific responses. It is thought that nucleosome positioning and removal at enhancer and promoter regions is crucial for proper transcriptional regulation. However, the mechanisms behind transcription factors and transcriptional machinery gaining access to their sites in chromatin is not well understood. Here we analyze DNAbinding of C/EBP family transcription factors and its effects on nucleosome binding before and after inhibiting C/EBP with a betulinic acid treatment at 6 hour and 24 hour exposures. We use betulinic acid as an inhibitor because it was recently shown to markedly inhibit DNA-binding of the C/EBP family of TFs both in vitro and in vivo (Hollis et al, 2012). In addition, it also has antiretroviral, antimalarial, and anti-inflammatory properties, and recent studies point towards it being an anticancer agent. We have analyzed the effect of betulinic acid on nucleosome occupancy at regulatory regions of three pro-inflammatory genes (IL12B, IL1A and IFNB1) known to bind C/EBP. All three genes are inducible, pro-inflammatory cytokines which are expressed specifically in macrophages, only in response to bacterial or viral challenge. Understanding how inhibition of C/EBP affects nucleosome occupancy will provide valuable insight in the role of this lineage-specific transcription factor in determining chromatin architecture at regulatory elements.

Neuroscience

REPLICATIVE SENESCENCE OF SACCHAROMYCES CEREVISIAE

DaShayla Bradford(Back to top)

Senescence is a degenerative process that all organisms experience and with senescence comes the responsibility of passing genetic inheritance from one family member to another as many times as possible to extend the ancestral tree. However, there has always been the question of why does senescence contrast negatively with reproduction rate? To answer this question, I will be conducting an experiment on Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, yeast, to determine how replicative aging affects yeast cells’ reproduction and growth rate. To conduct this experiment, several mutant virgin mother yeast strains were used so that a numerous amount of tetrad dissections were performed until the mother cells were unable to reproduce any further. A life span data sheet was used to collect the number of daughter cells each mother cell produced and how long it took them to stop reproducing, which was then converted into a survival curve and growth curve. The results could be interpreted for us to understand why the evolutionary trade-off of senescence and reproduction rate is not a typical mutation that helps with survival. The findings of this study can help us better understand the why the longevity of the human lifespan is not a universal mutation.

PERCEPTUAL ASSESSMENT OF INTELLIGIBILITY AND FLUENCY AS A FUNCTION OF PROSODIC CHARACTERISTICS

Kayla Tillman(Back to top)

Children’s ability to effectively use prosody (e.g., pitch and timing) to convey information improves over developmental time. This research investigated effects of voice pitch on subjective judgments of aspects of the speech signal which are relevant to clinical assessment of speech-language disorders as well as developmental prosody research. Speech was subjected to modification in which fundamental frequency (i.e., the acoustic correlate of voice pitch) was lowered, raised, or held at its original level, for 5-year-old children’s speech. The manipulations were expected to affect talkers' perceived ages, while leaving critical acoustic-prosodic correlates intact (e.g., fundamental frequency contour, speech rate). In an experiment, 40 listeners rated the modified speech regarding speech rate, fluency, and intelligibility. The data revealed the fundamental frequency manipulation significantly affected the perceived degree of fluency and intelligibility of speech, but not perceived speech rate. Results suggest that perception of the pitch of the voice is interdependent with perception of other aspects of the speech signal, a finding with implications for studying speech development.

Nutritional Sciences

NAVIGATING THROUGH THE MENU VIA FAST-FOOD RESTAURANT CHOICES

Rebekka Pace(Back to top)

The purpose of this research is to explore the fast-food menus providing correlations between calorie content and nutrient content. This project was done using a linear regression model. It also provides statistics on cardiovascular disease and other health risks due to fast food consumption.

PRE-PREGNANCY BMI, FOLLOW-UP BMI, WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE, AND ITS ASSOCIATION WITH ANTEPARTUM DEPRESSION: FINDINGS FROM POUCH

Shelbie Shelder (Back to top)

The aim is to study antepartum depressive symptoms in relation to maternal anthropometrics in both pre-pregnancy and at 7-15 years post-pregnancy. Risk factors associated with antepartum depression vary, and are not consistent across studies. First, we examine associations between pre-pregnancy body mass index, post-pregnancy BMI, waist circumference after pregnancy, and antepartum depressive symptoms. This analysis used data from The Pregnancy Outcomes and Community Health Study which included 3,019 women from 5 clinics in 52 different Michigan communities. At enrollment (16-27 weeks gestation) depressive symptoms were measured using the CES-D (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale) and pre-pregnancy BMI was calculated from self-reported height and weight. CESD was categorized as a standard cutoff of high ≥ 16 and not high < 16. 300 of the 3,019 women were reexamined at 7-15 years post-pregnancy and direct measures were obtained for height and weight of the women. High CES-D (≥ 16) was associated with pre-pregnancy BMI categories of underweight (<18.5) aOR =1.9 (95% CI 1.2,2.9) and obese (≥ 30) aOR = 1.3 (95% CI 1,1.6) in White/Other women but not in African American women. At follow-up high CES-D in pregnancy (≥ 16) was related to high BMI in both White and African American Women. If we are able to identify risk factors early on, we can prevent the outcome from happening. Physicians should make it a priority to screen for depressive symptoms during gravidity.

Physiology

ANALYSIS OF ARRESTIN EXPRESSION IN COLONIC EPITHELIAL CELLS

Brittany Childs(Back to top)

Background: Narayanan Parameswaran's research lab has been investigating certain cellular and biochemical mechanisms that contribute to inflammatory response. Inflammation is a necessary response that can have both aiding or harmful effects. Studies in Parameswaran's lab are focused on two different protein families, arrestins and G-protein coupled receptor kinases, GRKs. Arrestins are intracellular proteins that are indicated to have an important function in the cell signaling pathways and inflammatory responses. My research project is focused on arrestins role in inflammatory response. Methods/Results: In my research, I am interested in examining if over-expression of beta-arrestin- 1 and -2 will affect inflammatory response in colonic epithelial cell line. Using transfection, agarose gel-electrophoresis, and Western Blot 21 techniques I will analyze the colonic SW480 cell line. Upon confirmation of over-expression, then ligands such as lipopolysaccharide will be applied to test whether arrestin over-expression affects inflammatory genes such as interleukin-8 in these cells. Research in this field will lead to therapeutic treatments for the harmful effects inflammation can result in such as sepsis and inflammatory bowel disease. Support: B.C. is a REPID scholar with training support from an NIH award to Elahé Crockett, REPID Program Director.

CHARACTERIZATION OF GUT LYMPHOCYTES IN WILD-TYPE AND NRF2-NULL MICE

Brian Harvey (Back to top)

Background: Within the gut associated lymphoid tissues, both Peyer’s patches (PP) and intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) contribute to immune system maintenance and response. PP are lymphoid organs mostly comprised of B and T cells and are important in immune responses. IEL are mostly comprised of CD8 γδ T cells, which are a rare and specialized T cell subtype important in providing rapid defense against gut pathogens. Nrf2 is a transcription factor, activated by cell stress including oxidative stress and electrophilic insult. Upon activation, Nrf2 upregulates genes that promote cell survival. Further, Nrf2 has an important role in immune cell regulation, including macrophage function and T cell differentiation. However, the role of Nrf2 in gut lymphocyte regulation has not yet been characterized. Thus, this study aimed at developing protocols to extract PP and IEL from wild-type and Nrf2-null mice, to characterize gut lymphocyte populations. Methods/Results: Purified cell populations from PP and IEL were successfully prepared using a Percoll density gradient. The methods were optimized to improve cellular viability and yield, consistently resulting in viability above 80%. Using flow cytometry, CD3+, CD4+ helper, and CD8+ cytotoxic T cells were quantified within PP from wild-type and Nrf2-null mice. Further, CD8 γδ T cells in the IEL fraction were identified. Studies are ongoing to evaluate function of isolated intestinal lymphocytes derived from wild-type and Nrf2-null mice. Support: B.H. is a REPIDr

WHERE DO AMERICA'S BEST ATHLETES COME FROM?

Michelle Masarira (Back to top)

States like Texas and Florida are known for the amount of football players they produce, while Indiana is a state that is known for its passion for basketball. With these reputations, it is assumed that these states produce a higher level of talent in certain sports compared to the general population, but do these representations hold any water? Or are they just formed because some states have more people, and therefore a better chance of producing more high-end athletes? We want to find out if it is really true that some states produce more high-end athletes than others. How many of a certain state’s high school athletes turn into pro players? In other words, for every pro player from that state, how many high school athletes go through the system as well? There have been plenty of stories measuring how many National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball players are produced by state per capita, but never has there been research on a number of different sports at once, taking into account only the people that actually participate in high school sports and leaving out those who do not. With a more broad look into the data, more interesting questions can be brought up such as: What states produce the most professional athletes by different sport, and overall? Are certain states great at one sport and average/bad at another? How does Michigan stack up to the rest of the country? What role could these numbers play in the landscape of college athletics?

Possible Speciation in an Experimental Population of Escherichia coli

Kiyanna Weatherspoon (Back to top)

Speciation is an evolutionary phenomenon that, although well studied for more than a century, still holds mystery today. The study of speciation would benefit heavily by the finding of an adequate experimental model system. Because no universal bacterial species concept exist, it is difficult to identify when speciation has transpired. Such an instance may have occurred in an experimental population of Escherichia coli. E.coli as a species is partly defined by its inability to grow on citrate under oxic conditions. However, a population of E.coli developed the novel capacity to grow aerobically on citrate during a long-term evolution experiment after having grown on glucose for thousands of generations. Previous work done on this specific population has shown that it is increasingly becoming better at growing on citrate, but worse at growing on glucose. This suggests that this Cit+ population is accumulating niche specific adaptive mutations (NSAMs). These NSAMs may be an incipient barrier that would prevent gene transfer to occur between Cit+ and Cit- lineages. Here I describe an experiment that was done on this lineage to better understand if the Cit+ trait is becoming more beneficial over time. To test this, Cit+ clones from different time points in the population history were competed against their Cit- revertants. Due to experimental error, I was unable to obtain clear results, but future experiments will be done to test the prediction that the Cit+ trait is becoming increasingly beneficial.

Statistics

WHERE DO AMERICA'S BEST ATHLETES COME FROM?

Marcus Oden (Back to top)

States like Texas and Florida are known for the amount of football players they produce, while Indiana is a state that is known for its passion for basketball. With these reputations, it is assumed that these states produce a higher level of talent in certain sports compared to the general population, but do these representations hold any water? Or are they just formed because some states have more people, and therefore a better chance of producing more high-end athletes? We want to find out if it is really true that some states produce more high-end athletes than others. How many of a certain state’s high school athletes turn into pro players? In other words, for every pro player from that state, how many high school athletes go through the system as well? There have been plenty of stories measuring how many National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball players are produced by state per capita, but never has there been research on a number of different sports at once, taking into account only the people that actually participate in high school sports and leaving out those who do not. With a more broad look into the data, more interesting questions can be brought up such as: What states produce the most professional athletes by different sport, and overall? Are certain states great at one sport and average/bad at another? How does Michigan stack up to the rest of the country? What role could these numbers play in the landscape of college athletics?