Skip to Content
Keep us updated with your accomplishes and successes through: Ongoing Connections Update
Through the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program, the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine is committed to:
Consistent with these commitments, the goal of the Better Futures for Iowans program is to make state-of-the-art core research facilities at the University of Iowa available to academic classes and research projects conducted primarily by undergraduates at 2-year and 4-year institutions in Iowa.
Faculty throughout the state are eligible to apply for small grants to support laboratory-intensive projects involving undergraduate students in "hands-on" inquiry. Students take responsibility for the preparation of samples and analysis of data obtained. All participants are invited to present a poster about their work at the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Research Symposium. This activity, which was initiated with support from the Office of the Provost in 2013, extends University resources to Iowans and addresses an important goal of the University Strategic Plan - to provide better futures for Iowans.
"We have recently discovered that two Tetrahymena cytoskeletal proteins (Epc1 and Fen1) that we are studying form an unusual type of phase-separated liquid droplets. A number of publications this year have described the role of protein droplets formed by association of protein and RNA, such as P-bodies involved in mRNA storage and turnover. In at least one other case, cytoskeletal proteins have been found to form similar structures. Students working with Dr. Sleister have just completed construction of bacterial expression plasmids for GFP-tagged versions of Fen1. This fall we obtained our first images of liquid droplets formed by GFP-tagged versions of the Epc1 protein, which although similar to others reported in the literature, also appear to have novel structural features. We are also working to construct versions of the mRNAs encoding these proteins with engineered fluorescent RNA aptamers for visualization studies, to see if as in other systems, messenger RNA molecules associate with these liquid droplet structures. We propose to use the Central Microscopy Facility's new confocal microscope to image the 3D structures of these unusual structures, which are revolutionizing our understanding of organization of the cytoplasm of cells."
Heidi Sleister, PhD and Jerry Honts, PhDBFFI Awardees
"Many protist cells use an ATP-independent form of contractile motility, which results from the calcium-triggered contraction of filaments containing novel structural and/or calcium-binding proteins. Several such proteins were previously identified during proteomic analysis of contractile fibers isolated from the membrane-associated cytoskeleton of the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila, including the putative calcium-binding protein Tcb2 and the filament-forming structural protein Epc1. The goal of this project is to investigate the structure and dynamics of the two-domain protein Tcb2. The full-length protein and its N-terminal domain are not amenable to high-resolution structure determination, as they tend to aggregate in the presence of calcium and/or upon concentration. However, the C-terminal domain (Tcb2-C) is highly soluble at both low and high calcium concentrations. Solution NMR HSQC spectra of 15N-labeled Tcb2-C indicate that the protein is well folded in the presence and absence of calcium, and undergoes a dramatic conformational change upon calcium addition. We expressed and purified 15N, 13C-labeled Tcb2-C, and assigned the chemical shifts of the main chain and aliphatic and aromatic side chains of the protein at both low and calcium concentrations. NMR structure determination of calcium-free and calcium-bound Tcb2-C is currently underway. For this grant, we propose to acquire additional NMR experiments to quantify the calcium-binding properties of the domain and investigate its conformational dynamics. These studies will establish a structural basis for elucidating the function of Tcb2."
Adina Kilpatrick, PhDBFFI Awardee
"Funds are requested to support an undergraduate project to characterize a putative catalase and superoxide dismutase from the bacterium Deinococcus maricopensis. D. maricopensis has potential as a bioremediation agent due to its resistance to environmental stressors including oxidative damage. The genome of the bacterium has recently been sequenced as part of the GEBA (Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea) project headed by the Joint Genome Institute of the Department of Energy. A goal of GEBA is to better capture the diversity of the microbial world via genomic sequencing. A secondary goal of GEBA is to provide undergraduates an opportunity to contribute to genomics research, through the MGAN (Microbial Genome Annotation Network, supported by the National Science Foundation) network. Grand View is part of MGAN, and as part of this group, has access to bioinformatics tools geared at genome annotations. I am currently working with undergraduate mentees to more closely examine the genomic content of D. maricopensis. In particular, we are collecting and annotating genes believed to be related to stress tolerance phenotypes. The funding requested here will help support these efforts, by providing a means to validate our bioinformatics work via molecular biology techniques. In this project, mentees will clone, sequence, and functionally characterize (in Escherichia coli hosts) putative catalase and superoxide dismutase genes from D. maricopensis."
Michael LaGier, PhDBFFI Awardee
"The purpose of this class project is for the students to determine whether name-brand (Aleve) and generic (CVS and Equate) sodium naproxen are similar. The students are challenged to find or establish procedures that will help them determine this, including isolating, confirming the presence of, and quantifying the amount of the active species as well as the bioefficacy of the drug using a wide variety of instruments and experiments. At Mount Mercy University, we have a 90 MHz NMR spectrometer, but the power supply had broken, so the students could not determine the presence of the active ingredient. Thus, we have approached the CCOM NMR facilities to help the class accomplish one of their tasks. "
Joseph Nguyen, PhDBFFI Awardee
Description is forthcoming.
Kristopher Keuseman, PhDBFFI Awardee
Gary Coombs, PhDBFFI Awardee
Copyright © 2015 The University of Iowa. All Rights Reserved.