Cell-to-extracellular matrix interaction: In many pathological conditions such as metabolic diseases and tumor metastasis, cells often lose their abilities to communicate with their environment. Tissue cells are surrounded by the complex of fibrous proteins and sugars, called the extracellular matrix (ECM). Cells connect to the ECM via a cell surface receptor, integrin. The cell-ECM interaction is mediated by integrin molecules and plays crucial roles in cell organization such as cell adhesion, migration, and differentiation. Our lab studies the function of integrin in vivo. The nematode C. elegans possesses pat-3 β integrin which plays an essential role during embryogenesis. Our studies have shown that pat-3 β integrin is required for the development of gonads, neurons, and the hypodermis. In particular, we are interested in knowing the downstream molecules interacting with integrins in tissue specific ways. Using a gene editing technique, the CRISPR-CAS9 system, we are generating mutations in candidate genes and characterizing genetic or biochemical links to integrin.
Host-pathogen interaction: C. elegans feeds on soil bacteria for reproduction and survival. The research community reports that C. elegans stops reproduction or displays avoidance when it encounters unfavorable conditions such as scarce food or a toxic environment. Our analysis shows that a cell component derived from bacteria appears to stimulate egg laying, a serotonin-dependent reproductive behavior, while it also stimulates the movement of worms. It appears that this bacterial molecule instructs the nematode to lay eggs and move its body. We found that the heterotrimeric G proteins and the Toll-like receptor are involved in recognizing and responding to bacterial cues. Our lab is also interested in learning how such behavioral cues are translated into the stimulation of a particular behavior in the nervous system. To do that, we screen for many mutations in sensory receptors and signaling to identify the genes linked to such behaviors. This study will define molecular mechanism of food or pathogen sensing, which is important for recognizing good or bad conditions for survival.
In the area of NTD vaccine development, Texas Children's Hospital in partnership with the National School of Tropical Medicine has established Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.
Over the past 15 years our research has led the development of new vaccines to combat NTDs. Through this research activity a human hookworm vaccine is in phase 1 clinical trials as is a schistosomiasis vaccine. Vaccines against leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and other soil-transmitted helminths are in development.
Our lab investigates the sensory neuronal basis for behaviors in disease-transmitting arthropods, especially mosquito vectors of arboviruses like Dengue and Zika. Of particular interest are the pathways that contribute to chemical- and temperature-oriented behaviors such as host seeking, nectar feeding and oviposition site selection. One of our major goals is to understand complex biological systems by employing a range of techniques including gene expression, neurophysiology, and animal responses to sensory stimuli. One long-term objective of our efforts will be to contribute to reductions in human and animal disease transmission at local, national, and regional levels by improving surveillance and control methods that can be integrated into existing pest management programs.
I use paleontology and archaeology as tools to address research questions firmly grounded in biological theory. Recently, I have published the earliest zooarchaeological evidence for early human hunting and scavenging activities, with implications for the evolution of hominin diets, encephalization, foraging ecology, biogeography, and sociality. My other interests include Paleolithic technology, vertebrate paleontology, and reconstructing hominin paleoenvironments.
We are a group of biological and evolutionary anthropologists interested in a variety of research subjects, including evolutionary endocrinology, ecological immunology, reproductive ecology, human life history evolution, behavioral endocrinology, animal behavior and ecology, evolutionary psychology, infectious disease ecology, and emerging infectious diseases.
Projects in the Trakselis laboratory center on understanding the molecular mechanisms of DNA replication and repair and exploiting this knowledge for cancer therapeutics, biotechnology, and nanoscale applications. We utilize a model archaeal DNA replication system which shares significant homology to that of higher eukaryotes but is amenable to in vitro biochemistry experiments. This allows us to draw parallels between different domains of life using simpler replication systems.
Research focuses on understanding the salient features of small molecule molecular recognition of selected bioreceptors including proteins and enzymes. Specific applications are in the discovery and development of vascular disrupting agents for the treatment of solid tumors and ophthalmologic disorders, as well as new compounds to treat both Chagas’ Disease and brain disorders, such as clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. The Pinney Group has expertise in synthetic and medicinal chemistry with additional interests in biochemistry, pharmacology, and molecular biology.
We are an Analytical Chemistry group performing “X-omics" research at Baylor University. Our activities include various areas of modern mass and ion mobility spectrometry, ion-molecule reaction kinetics, bioinformatics, biomarker discovery, and instrumentation to address current scientific challenges in fields of biomedical and environmental research.
At the heart of our research interests are the chemistry and biology of natural products, enduring leads for basic cell biology studies and drug development. These are unique and often structurally complex molecules that are designed to interact in highly specific ways with various cellular receptors and by homology those found in humans. Our interest in a particular natural product target typically stems from a combination of biological activity and sometimes complex structure.
The current primary foci in my lab are: 1) Understanding the relationships between auditory sensory processing and speech and language processing, using behavioral tests and electroencephalography and 2) Investigating behavioral training and neuromodulation methods, to improve speech and language function in disordered populations.
Automated data retrieval and curation, particularly the management of orthology data and/or network data. The main goal is to establish conserved biological networks across developmental, physiological, and evolutionary time.
The overarching focus of research performed in my laboratory is answering a variety of mechanistic toxicological questions relating to insult, injury, and healing of human systems. My area of major interest is in areas relating to hypoxia-induced medical conditions occurring from insults, injury, or exposures to environmental contaminates and pharmaceuticals (i.e., traumatic brain injury (TBI), burns, cancer, chronic wound healing).
The focus of my laboratory is on elucidating the relationship between diet, the microbiome and colon cancer etiology. Our goal is to 1) delineate the dietary factors that modify the microbiome and its function, 2) develop microbial multi-omic classifiers that improve stratification of patients for colon cancer treatment, and 3) identify key functional pathways and mechanisms of the microbiota-host communication, including nucleic acid sensing cell receptors that control inflammation. Ultimately, our goal is to discover microbial and metabolic targets for the development of clinical tools to improve the treatment and reduce mortality from colon cancer.
Work in my lab is focused on the effects of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) supplementation on mitochondrial function and aerobic exercise performance. Goals include 1) determining the effectiveness of PQQ and aerobic exercise on attenuating oxidative stress/lipid peroxidation; 2) determining the ability to induce muscle-specific genes involved in mitochondrial biogenesis; and 3) assessing the effects on oxidative stress, proteins involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and function, and aerobic exercise performance in un-trained men.
We are primarily interested in cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling excitability of the amygdala, a key brain area involved in fear and anxiety. Experimental domains include whole-animal behavioral tests (fear conditioning, anxiety behavior), cellular physiology and pharmacology (whole-cell recordings in a brain slice preparation), and molecular biology / biochemistry (Western blot, ELISA, qPCR) and stereotaxic surgeries
I investigate how seizures during different periods of neurodevelopment result in long-term changes in learning and memory, social behavior, and repetitive/stereotyped behaviors. I also investigate the neural mechanisms that mediate these changes through molecular and imaging techniques. Rotations would consist of learning behavioral techniques to examine autistic-like behavior in mice with early-life seizures. Techniques include western blotting to determine changes in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway after an acute seizure during adulthood.
My research takes a cross-species approach to understanding how the brain creates episodic memories (memory for the ‘what, where and when’ of an event), and how these memories transform over time. I investigate the networks of brain regions involved in memory formation, reorganization, and storage, and the underlying molecular mechanisms and plasticity factors that regulate memory stabilization.