Kylie Chichura ’19
“The Effects of Multiple Amino Acid Mutations of a Key Quorum Sensing Peptide, CSP-1”
Major/Minor: Chemistry, math
Hometown: Taylor, PA
Project Advisor: Dr. Michael Bertucci
Describe your project.
The scope of the project was to replace small molecules as treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections caused by the gram-positive bacteria, S. pneumoniae. Competence stimulating peptide, CSP-1, is this bacteria’s mechanism of intercellular communication. Amino acids in the hydrophobic region of CSP-1 were substituted with unnatural amino acids to optimize and analyze the binding pocket of the receptor.
I synthesized peptides using Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis and a CEM Microwave Synthesizer, and I purified the peptides using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography to 95% or greater. I traveled to the University of Nevada, Reno and worked in a research group under the guidance of Dr. Yftah Tal-Gan. I conducted biological assays by growing S. pneumoniae to test the concentrations of the mutants I synthesized against the native peptide, CSP-1.
How did your project come about?
The student working on this project prior to me synthesized peptides with single amino acid mutations, and I focused on using his data to make multiple amino acid substitutions.
What was the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights did he bring to your project?
I learned a lot from Dr. Bertucci. He is very knowledgeable about this subject.
What has been your biggest obstacle so far?
I have struggled with accurately synthesizing peptides. When I do not get my desired product, I must start over.
What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?
I traveled to Reno, Nevada and got to experience the life of a graduate school student.
What was the result of your project?
Two peptides I synthesized were competitive against the native peptide.
Overall, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian College?
I feel very grateful for being able to experience chemistry one-on-one with Dr. Bertucci. For students who want to learn more about their desired subject, I would suggest applying to SOAR.
Do you plan to expand upon your research?
I am continuing my project through the honors program, where I am continuing to synthesize and purify more peptides.
Any plans to present this research outside the SOAR presentations?
I presented this research in August 2018 at the National ACS Conference in Boston, and I plan to present on campus again at Scholar’s Day.