Award Date

5-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biochemistry

Department

Chemistry

First Committee Member

Ernesto Abel‐Santos, Co-Chair

Second Committee Member

Ronald Gary, Co-Chair

Third Committee Member

Bryan Spangelo

Graduate Faculty Representative

Eduardo Robleto

Number of Pages

71

Abstract

Bacillus species are rod-shaped, gram-positive bacteria that are capable of producing endospores. In this dormant stage, the endospores can persist in hostile physical and chemical environments. Once conditions become favorable, the spores germinate into actively dividing cells, vegetative cells. Germination is a crucial step for the pathogenicity of the Bacilli in affecting a host organism.

Our study applies mathematical approaches to spore germination to determine whether the binding of one germinant will affect the binding of another germinant. We pursued this approach with two different species, B. cereus and B. anthracis, both pathogenic organisms. B. cereus is a widely known food pathogen that causes foodborne illnesses. B. anthracis, anthrax, is most commonly known for the 2001 bioterrorism attacks.

Both B. cereus and B. anthracis germinate with a variety of amino acids and nucleosides. B. cereus was shown to have cooperative effects with inosine and L-alanine induced germination. We studied the effects of inosine and L-alanine germination in response to cooperative binding. We showed that allosteric cooperativity is seen with the inosine and L-alanine binding sites between the GerI and GerQ receptors. With B. anthracis, we used 10 different combinations of amino acid and nucleosides to understand the different pathways of germination response. We suggest a mechanism of binding that requires cooperativity among inosine with L-serine and inosine with Lmethionine binding.

Keywords

Anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; Bacillus (Bacteria); Bacillus cereus; Bacterial spores; Inosine

Disciplines

Bacteriology | Biochemistry | Organic Chemistry

Language

English


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