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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 7, 2025
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  4. Daimi, K. ; and Sadoon, A. Al (Ed.)
    In this paper, we introduce an NSF funded project that aims to develop a database that integrates genetic, environmental and age-related information to study their effects on health conditions of a rhesus monkey colony at Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico, which has been founded since 1938. In this project, we will combine the osteology data with the rich genealogy and demographic information into a searchable and computer-interoperable knowledge model accessible through user-friendly interfaces. Backed by the integrated database, this system will provide researchers and the public information from the Cayo Santiago rhesus colony and the derived skeletal collection, a powerful non-human model for datamining to study human disease. Undergraduate and graduate students from diverse communities have been incorporated into research and development activities. Related materials are used as case studies in relevant classes at Mercer University to help train these undergraduate students into problem solvers. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 17, 2024
  5. Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for at least three pandemics in the past, is still a threat to modern populations. The bacterium has potential to evolve rapidly and persists in natural animal reservoirs around the globe. Epidemic diseases such as plague can dramatically alter and shape human demography, biology, and socio-cultural practices. Through the synthesis of biomolecular analyses with bioarchaeological data, researchers have begun to uncover the effects of past epidemics on modern populations and are also searching for the origins of the Y. pestis bacterium. Understanding the origins, behaviors, and consequences of diseases with epidemic potential in the past can contribute to ongoing discourse in public health, social policy, economy, and biology, as well as inspire positive changes in living populations. We review here recent literature on Y. pestis ecology and evidence of the bacteria’s evolution in prehistory before discussing ongoing research at the Hamin Neolithic settlement site that is suspected to have collapsed from an epidemic disease. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  6. Abstract Objectives

    To investigate whether the Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico (Latitude: 18.1564°N; temperature range 19°C to 32°C) rhesus macaque population has acclimated to their tropical island conditions since arriving from Lucknow, India (Latitude: 26.8470°N; temperature range 8°C to 41°C) in 1938.

    Materials and Methods

    Using the derived skeletal collection, measurements were taken of long bone lengths, diaphyseal circumference, and body weight using 635 (237 males and 398 females) skeletally mature individuals. Measurements sampled colony members born over a 51‐year time span at Cayo Santiago, from 1951 to 2002.

    Results

    Results demonstrated that body weights and diaphyseal circumferences significantly declined in both males and females. Long bone lengths relative to body weight and diaphyseal circumference also increased in females. Whereas body weight, long bone length and diaphyseal circumference declined at near parallel rates in males.

    Discussion

    The population has acclimated to homogenous, tropical, conditions of the Caribbean island since their arrival over 80 years ago. Trends in both sexes aligned with Bergmann's rule, though females displayed a greater decline in body weight, as well as greater affinity with Allen's rule, than did males. Buffering effects related to male competition may be responsible for this discrepancy. Overall, the Cayo Santiago populations, as shown over a significant period (1951–2002) of their history, have acclimated to their island conditions by decreasing in size and altering body proportions.

     
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  7. Abstract

    Structure and functions of S100 proteins are regulated by two distinct calcium binding EF hand motifs. In this work, we used solution‐state NMR spectroscopy to investigate the cooperativity between the two calcium binding sites and map the allosteric changes at the target binding site. To parse the contribution of the individual calcium binding events, variants of S100A12 were designed to selectively bind calcium to either the EF‐I (N63A) or EF‐II (E31A) loop, respectively. Detailed analysis of the backbone chemical shifts for wildtype protein and its mutants indicates that calcium binding to the canonical EF‐II loop is the principal trigger for the conformational switch between ‘closed’ apo to the ‘open’ Ca2+‐bound conformation of the protein. Elimination of binding in S100‐specific EF‐I loop has limited impact on the calcium binding affinity of the EF‐II loop and the concomitant structural rearrangement. In contrast, deletion of binding in the EF‐II loop significantly attenuates calcium affinity in the EF‐I loop and the structure adopts a ‘closed’ apo‐like conformation. Analysis of experimental amide nitrogen (15N) relaxation rates (R1,R2, and15N–{1H} NOE) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations demonstrate that the calcium bound state is relatively floppy with pico–nanosecond motions induced in functionally relevant domains responsible for target recognition such as the hinge domain and the C‐terminal residues. Experimental relaxation studies combined with MD simulations show that while calcium binding in the EF‐I loop alone does not induce significant motions in the polypeptide chain, EF‐I regulates fluctuations in the polypeptide in the presence of bound calcium in the EF‐II loop. These results offer novel insights into the dynamic regulation of target recognition by calcium binding and unravels the role of cooperativity between the two calcium binding events in S100A12.

     
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