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Studies of West Nile virus (WNV) are prevalent in avian, equine, and human health literature over the past 15 years. What remain poorly understood are immune and physiological mechanisms that promote survival of WNV infection in natural populations. We captured downy woodpeckers, house finches, and northern cardinals before, during, and after a local WNV outbreak to determine seroprevalence of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies to WNV in the local bird population. Variation in physiological traits associated with a history of WNV infection was assessed in these free-living avian hosts. The presence of WNV antibodies differed among the three species. The findings also reveal phenotypic qualities of birds that survived the virus, and potential costs associated with carrying the virus. Body condition, innate immune function, and antioxidant capacity differed significantly among birds with and without antibodies to WNV. Northern cardinals with WNV IgM were in significantly better body condition. Individuals of all three species with WNV IgM had significantly greater bacterial killing ability. Finally, individuals of all three species with WNV IgM had significantly lower total antioxidant capacity. The findings reveal phenotypic qualities of birds that survived West Nile virus, and potential costs associated with carrying the virus.
Simian virus 40 is a small DNA tumor virus capable of transforming cells in culture and causing tumors in animal models. The viral protein large T antigen specifically binds the tumor suppressors p53 and hypophosphorylated retinoblastoma protein (pRb) to prevent G1 arrest. T antigen also transactivates the cyclin-A promoter. This activity is independent of pRb binding, yet dependent upon the J-domain Hsp70-binding region. T antigen also binds transcription factors, including TATA box binding protein (TBP). Thus, we assessed whether cyclin A promoter activation relied on this activity and/or the ability to complex with p53. Using a luciferase reporter assay, we show that T antigen mutant proteins defective in TBP and p53 binding are able to transactivate the cyclin A promoter to wild type levels. These data indicate that T antigen mediated transactivation of the cyclin A promoter uses a p53 and TBP-binding-independent mechanism, yet relies on hsp70 binding to the N-terminal, J-domain. This suggests that upregulation of cyclin A by T antigen could be initiated via the J-domain, in an ATPase-dependent process to disrupt transcriptional regulators, in a yet to be determined mechanism.
Enterococci are complex Gram positive cocci found in the intestines of humans and animals. For over 30 years, Enterococcus has shown increased resistance to vancomycin and other antimicrobials as seen in nosocomial infections in the United States. Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) in the community was first reported in the United States in 2010, but Europe has seen these organisms in the community for over 20 years. This study examined the prevalence of VRE in public restrooms from three locations in Woodford and Fayette counties in central Kentucky. Restrooms varied in size, location, and user type (male, female or unisex). The public restrooms tested were in a college auditorium, a college student center, a small café, and a hospital. Ninety-eight samples from eight restrooms were collected from surfaces including the door handle exiting the entire restroom, the lock on the stall door, the soap dispenser, the floor of the stall, the sink, the paper towel dispenser, the urinal, and the feminine napkin disposal system. Prevalence of Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium and VRE was determined. Enterococcus species were identified by conventional biochemical physiologic testing, and vancomycin resistance was determined by the vancomycin agar screen test. VRE was isolated from four out of 98 (4%) of the samples collected. VRE was found on two exit door handles, one soap dispenser, and one feminine napkin disposal system. All of the VRE were found in hospital public (visitors') restrooms. VRE found in public restrooms may be a place for the possible spread of VRE to community members.
The small Indian mongoose, Herpestes auropunctatus, was intentionally introduced throughout the tropics over the past 140 years. This pervasive omnivore continues to have an impact on the structure of food webs throughout the world, and may be exerting top-down controls to ecosystems on islands throughout the Caribbean. Critical examinations of mongoose diets are scarce; therefore, their trophic role is poorly understood. To preliminarily estimate the degree to which H. auropunctatus is exerting trophic control on the ecological processes of this region, we examined the stable isotopic signature (δ13C and δ15N) from the hair of mongoose trapped in southern St. John, United States Virgin Islands (USVI). Results suggest geographic differences in consumption by mongoose inhabiting similar localities. In addition, mongoose captured at the peninsular Yawzi Point show consumption differing among ages, with older individuals likely relying more heavily on marine-derived nutrients. This preliminarily suggests that the invasive mongoose may be differentially exerting pressure on native marine herpetofauna, and that this behavior may increase throughout the life of the predator. This is the first study to systematically examine mongoose in the Caribbean using stable isotopes, and so will hopefully serve as a springboard for additional isotopic studies of this invasive predator in order to fully elucidate its impact on native fauna throughout the Caribbean.
The following chapters have sent in officer slates for 2016-2017. Officers are listed in the order of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Historian, and Faculty Advisor unless otherwise noted. The chapters are listed alphabetically by Greek name. Please submit new slates, changes and corrections to Lori.Kelman@montgomerycollege.edu.