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Winning Research

News Story

Were you unable to attend last month's inaugural Student and Faculty Research Day? Read on for information about the student and faculty winners on both campuses.

Last month, for the first time ever, the Office of Sponsored Research and the Division for Student Success were delighted to welcome the Pace Community to the inaugural Student and Faculty Research Day. This new collaboration merged Pace’s annual “Research Day” which has been organized by the Office of Sponsored Research with the annual “Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Showcase” put on by the Division for Student Success. The combined Student and Faculty Research Day provides an excellent opportunity to bring together faculty and student research projects and highlight the exciting scholarship on both campuses.

Congratulations to the winning researchers on both campuses.


The Dipeptide, Cysteine-Glycine, is the active component of Glutathione that is responsible for the reductive stress related liking of Mycobacterium Bovis-BCG
Principal Investigator(s): Marcy Kelly, PhD
Co-Investigator(s): Elliana Gianacopoulos
Department: Biology
School: Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

The World Health Organization recently reported that approximately half of the world’s population with Mycobacterium tuberculosis is infected with drug/multi-drug resistant strains. Understanding how mycobacteria respond to different host environments could provide novel information for how the bacteria achieve resistance. M. bovis-BCG, a safe organism used for the study of tuberculosis, models the organism’s metabolic pathways.

Glutathione (GSH), a molecule produced by the human immune response when infected by M. tuberculosis, is known to kill actively growing M. bovis-BCG by inducing a toxically reduced environment within the organism’s cytoplasm. GSH is cleaved outside of BCG by an enzyme, gamma-glutamyl transferase (ggtA), into two molecules: gammaglutamate and cysteine-glycine (Cys-Gly). The Cys-Gly can then enter into the bacterial cell by a dipeptide permease (DPP) transporter. This study is to test whether Cys-Gly is the active component of GSH that is responsible for the reductive stress-related killing of mid-log BCG upon exposure to GSH. When both BCG and a strain of BCG with a copy of the dipeptide permease gene interrupted by a selective marker are exposed to Cys-Gly, then survival rates determine whether the dipeptide is entering the cell. If Cys-Gly is responsible for reductive-stress mediated killing, the peptide will not kill the mutant BCG because it will be unable to transport into the cell. Preliminary data suggests that with the Cys-Gly permease blocked, cells are viable after 4 days of 8mM Cys-Gly addition; however, preliminary trials with BCG and cDPP do not show significant cell death.


Characterization of interneuromast cell regrowth in the zebrafish lateral line system
Principal Investigator(s): Aaron Steiner, PhD
Co-Investigator(s): Teresa Fotino
Department: Biology
School: Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

Hearing loss is a potentially debilitating condition that afflicts tens of millions of Americans. The principal cause of hearing loss is the deterioration or destruction of hair cells in the inner ear. Although these delicate cells do not naturally regenerate in the human ear, non-mammalian vertebrates can replace hair cells rapidly and robustly. Despite extensive study the molecular events driving regrowth in such animals—and its absence in mammals—remain poorly understood. We study the process of hair-cell regeneration in a non-mammalian model system, the lateral line of the zebrafish, with the goal of identifying cellular and molecular mechanisms governing hair-cell recovery. The zebrafish lateral line consists of small hair cell-containing sensory organs known as neuromasts that are connected by a string of elongated interneuromast cells. Although interneuromast cells are capable of producing entirely new neuromasts—complete with hair cells—during development and after partial amputation of the animal’s tail, relatively little is known about the biology of these cells themselves. In previous experiments we have destroyed individual transgenically-labeled interneuromast cells using a laser, creating a gap in the string of interneuromast cells, and have observed that neighboring cells rapidly extend new processes to connect with each other across the gap. In this study we have employed laser ablation and time-lapse confocal microscopy to characterize the extension of these new processes. We find that interneuromast cells form growth cone-like terminals that extend to connect with their next nearest neighboring cells. We demonstrate that the rate at which interneuromast cell processes extend is also comparable to rates recorded for neuronal process extension. We therefore conclude that interneuromast cells exhibit previously unappreciated neuron-like features. We further propose that axon guidance cues may regulate the extension of interneuromast cell processes. Consistent with this hypothesis, earlier microarray analyses of sorted cells have indicated that interneuromast cells express the axon guidance protein Roundabout 3 (Robo3). We have obtained zebrafish that harbor a mutation in the Robo3 gene and plan to assay interneuromast cell regrowth in animals that lack functional Robo3 protein. These studies promise to extend our understanding of an important progenitor cell type, and may one day contribute to therapies for hearing loss.