Date of Award

12-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Chemistry

Major Professor

Shawn R. Campagna

Committee Members

Michael D. Best, Alexei P. Sokolov, Brynn H. Voy

Abstract

Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry has become a powerful tool for investigating biological systems. Herein we describe the development of both isotope dilution mass spectrometry methods and targeted metabolomics methods for the study of metabolic and cell-cell signaling applications.

A putative yeast enzyme was characterized by discovery metabolite profiling, kinetic flux profiling, transcriptomics and structural biology. These experiments demonstrated that the enzyme shb17 was a sedoheptulose bisphosphatase that provides a thermodynamically dedicated step towards riboneogenesis, leading to the redefinition of the canonical pentose phosphate pathway.

An extension of metabolic profiling and kinetic flux profiling methods was developed for a set of symbiotic marine microorganisms. Carbon flux from the most abundant photosynthetic organism, Prochlorococcus, to a symbiotic Alteromonas was observed in liquid coculture. These methods enable a more biologically relevant assay for marine species and will lead to a better understanding of carbon flux in the oceans.

Energy taxis refers to the active migration of bacteria in response to electron transport system related signals. The second messenger cyclic-di-GMP provides a link between the metabolic signals and motility. Quantitation of c-di-GMP helped characterize the nature of this regulation.

Autoinducer-2 is a small sugar produced by a large variety of bacteria that is proposed to be a universal quorum sensing signal. The quorum sensing function of autoinducer-2 is disputed because it is produced by an enzyme of the activated methyl cycle, leading to an alternate hypothesis that it is simply a metabolic byproduct. Herein a method for the detection of autoinducer-2 is developed to enable studies of its signaling role and biosynthetic regulation. These studies demonstrated that autoinducer-2 does not function as a signal in all species. Further, metabolic experiments indicated that the metabolic impact of LuxS dysfunction was small and could be mitigated by recycling oxidized glutathione. Together, these data indicate that neither hypothesis is adequate. Evidence is provided that autoinducer-2 suppresses the immune system, by the interruption of cytokine signaling, implying that autoinducer play a protective role during host colonization.

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