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AJUR Volume 14 Issue 2 (June 2017)

Links to individual manuscripts, abstracts, and keywords of this AJUR issue are provided below.


Blackseed (Nigella sativa) Oil and its Active Ingredient, Thymoquinone, Suppress the Aggressive Phenotype of Breast Cancer Cells

Sabrina Chaudhry, Safia Siddiqui, Tyrnnon K. Steffen, & Stacey L. Raimondi 

ABSTRACT Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in women within the United States. However, current treatment methods for the disease present deleterious side effects themselves. Therefore, there is a move towards finding natural cures in order to mitigate negative side effects while still providing effective treatment for the cancer. Blackseed (Nigella sativa) oil is one particular natural remedy, alongside its active ingredient thymoquinone (TQ), which has been successfully tested for suppressing certain types of breast cancer cell proliferation. TQ itself has been seen to be capable of preventing proliferation of both non-aggressive MCF-7 and highly aggressive MDA-MB-231 cancer cells. However, studies which looked at the effects of TQ on MCF-7 cells alone were limiting in their use of high concentrations of the chemical without emphasis on finding a minimum effective dosage. Additionally, a second study which tested the effects of TQ on both MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines conducted the experiments in the presence of a lipid-carrier molecule. This, in turn, may have served as a confounding variable in the results. Therefore, it was hypothesized that a minimal effective dosage for both blackseed oil and TQ could be determined, where a significantly greater suppression of MDA-MB-231, in comparison to MCF-7, cell proliferation would be observed. Cell proliferation, cell adhesion, and soft agar assays were used to test the hypothesis of this study. The minimum effective dosage for each substance, characterized by proliferation of the non-aggressive MCF-7 cells to some extent and suppression of the aggressive MDA-MB-231 cells, were determined to be 0.5 µL for blackseed oil and 1.0 µM for TQ. Additionally, TQ’s effectiveness was noted to be more time-dependent than blackseed oil. This study supports the use of minimal effective doses for blackseed oil or TQ to naturally treat breast cancer while preventing damage to non-aggressive cells.

KEYWORDS Breast cancer; Blackseed oil; Nigella sativa; Thymoquinone; Effective dose; Natural remedies

Speech-Language Pathologists’ Perceptions of the Common Core State Standards: A Multi-State Study

Nicole Ariza & Patrick R. Walden

ABSTRACT This study investigated the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) from the perspective of Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) working with students with communication disorders in public schools. An invitation to participate in an anonymous, online questionnaire with both closed- and open-ended questions was posted to three online communities comprised of SLP’s working in schools across the United States of America (U.S.). Eighty-seven SLPs working in states using the CCSS completed the survey. The survey focused on four primary areas—the perceived impact of the CCSS on service delivery, student outcomes, professional workload and continuing professional education. Participants reported consistent incorporation of standards into services, but varied methods of implementation, primarily unchanged student outcomes, increased professional workload and a need for additional training. Overall, the CCSS’ intent to create consistent goals may not be accomplished due to variability in approaches in implementation of the standards. Additionally, more resources and trainings for SLPs are needed to fully implement CCSS into speech-language intervention in the schools.

KEYWORDS Common Core State Standards; School-Based Services; School-Based Issues; Speech-Language Pathology; Service Delivery; Student Outcomes; Professional Workload; Continuing Professional Education

A Comparative Study of All-atom Molecular Dynamics Simulation and Coarse-grained Normal Mode Analysis in Identifying Pre-existing Residue Interaction Networks that Promote Coupled-Domain Dynamics in Escherichia coli Methionyl-tRNA Synthetase

Samuel C. Fehling, Alexander M. Strom, Brent P. Lehman, Ryan J. Andrews, Sudeep Bhattacharyya, & Sanchita Hati

ABSTRACT Inter-domain communication plays a key role in the function of modular proteins. Earlier studies have demonstrated that the coupling of domain motions is important in mediating site-to-site communications in modular proteins. In the present study, bioinformatics and molecular simulations were usedto trace “pre-existing” residue-residue interaction networks that mediate coupled-domain dynamics in multi-domain Escherichia coli methionyl-tRNA synthetase (Ec MetRS). In particular, a comparative study was carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of coarse-grained normal mode analysis and all-atom molecular dynamic simulation in predicting pre-existing pathways of inter-domain communications in this enzyme. Integration of dynamic information of residues with their evolutionary features (conserved and coevolved) demonstrated that multiple residue-residue interaction networks exist in Ec MetRS that promote dynamic coupling between the anticodon binding domain and the connective polypeptide I domain, which are > 50Å apart, through correlated motions. Mutation of residues on these pathways have distinct impact on the dynamics and function of this enzyme. Moreover, the present study revealed that the dynamic information obtained from the coarse-grained normal mode analysis is comparable to the atomistic molecular dynamics simulations in predicting the interaction networks that are essential for promoting coupled-domain dynamics in Ec MetRS.

KEYWORDS Domain-domain Communication; Molecular Dynamics; Methionyl-tRNA Synthetase; Normal Mode Analysis; Coupled-domain Dynamics; Course-grained Normal Mode Analysis; Aminoacyl tRNA Synthetases; Statistical Coupling Analysis

Skewed and Flexible Skewed Distributions: A Modern Look at the Distribution of BMI

Thao Tran, Cara Wiskow, Mohammad Abdus Aziz

ABSTRACT The purpose of this study is to find distributions that best model body mass index (BMI) data. BMI has become a standard health indicator and numerous studies have been done to examine the distribution of BMI. Due to the skew and bimodal nature, we focus on modeling BMI with flexible skewed distributions. The distributions are fitted to University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire (UWEC) BMI data and to a data obtained from National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES). The model parameters are obtained using maximum likelihood estimation method. We compare flexible models to more conventional distributions, such as skew-normal, and skew-t distributions using AIC and BIC and Kolmogorov-Smirnov (K-S) goodness-of-fit test. Our results indicate that the skew-t and Alpha-Skew-Laplace distributions are reasonably competitive when describing unimodal BMI data whereas Alpha-Skew-Laplace and finite mixture of scale mixture of skew-normal and skew-t distributions are better alternatives to both unimodal and bimodal conventional distributions. The results we obtained are useful because we believe the models discussed in ours study will offer a framework for testing features such as bimodality, asymmetry, and robustness of the BMI data, thus providing a more detailed and accurate understanding of the distribution of BMI.

KEYWORDS Body Mass Index; Skew-normal distribution; Skew-t distribution; Flexible skewed distributions; Mixture distributions; Scale mixture of skew-normal distribution; K-S test

Exploration of the Influence of Smiling on Initial Reactions Across Levels of Facial Attractiveness

Stephanie M. Shields, Caitlin E. Morse, Paige Arrington, & David F. Nichols

ABSTRACT Both attractiveness and emotionality independently affect perception and interact to influence how a person perceives others. It has previously been shown that expressing positive emotions increases perceived attractiveness in general, but the relative influence of smiling across attractiveness levels and timing of this interaction is unknown. Such an interaction could entail dependent brain processing with interactions between brain areas or independent processing within each brain area. The present studies aimed to investigate this interaction and how it occurs through behavioral, specifically self-report, and physiological, specifically electrophysiological, methods. In each study, female undergraduate participants were shown images of male faces with smiling or neutral expressions. Study 1 used participant ratings to provide insight into the interaction and to establish an image subset of faces of high attractiveness (HA) and low attractiveness (LA). An interaction was found wherein HA faces were rated significantly higher on attractiveness when smiling whereas LA faces were rated similarly attractive regardless of emotional expression. Study 2 used electroencephalography (EEG) to examine the timing of brain responses to attractiveness, emotionality, and their interaction. Though a main effect of attractiveness consistently occurred prior to a main effect of emotional expression across two data sets, the presence of an interaction effect was inconsistent. There was some evidence for independent processing wherein the earliest brain responses are predominantly affected by attractiveness and are influenced by emotional expression, but dependent interactions between modular processing areas cannot be ruled out. Together, these results help to shed light on the interplay of attractiveness and emotionality though additional research could help to clarify the timing of the interaction on a neural level.

KEYWORDS Attractiveness, Emotionality, Emotional Expression, Smiling, Electroencephalography, Event Related Potentials

How to Become a “Real Chicagoan” in No Time: The Promise and Pedagogy of Walking Tourism

Jacob Henry

ABSTRACT This study takes seriously the tourist’s desire to feel like a local and examines how walking tour guides work toward fulfilling that desire. The paper examines some of the techniques used by urban walking tour guides to convey local cultural cues. The tourist, armed with these cues, may feel able to fit into a new culture as a quasi-insider. Through qualitative methods, primarily participant observation, the researcher identifies three tactics that guides implement to make the tourist to feel like a local. These tactics are labeled agent alignment, urban alchemy, and material action. These tactics take place within a borderzone, the liminal time-space between insider and outsider status. A successful guide facilitates the border crossing, allowing the tourist to transition from tourist to perceived ‘real Chicagoan.’ However, the unsuccessful guide forces tourists to exit the borderzone unchanged, still as tourists. These findings highlight the uniqueness of walking tourism as a niche tourism and wade into the conceptual milieu of ‘localism’ and ‘the local.’

KEYWORDS Walking Tourism; Urban Tourism; Tour Guides; Localization; Interculturalism; Urban Alchemy; Agent Alignment; Chicago

Characterization of Rectifying and Sphere Curves in ℝ3

Julie Logan & Yun Myung Oh

ABSTRACT Studies of curves in 3D-space have been developed by many geometers and it is known that any regular curve in 3D space is completely determined by its curvature and torsion, up to position. Many results have been found to characterize various types of space curves in terms of conditions on the ratio of torsion to curvature. Under an extra condition on the constant curvature, Y. L. Seo and Y. M. Oh found the series solution when the ratio of torsion to curvature is a linear function. Furthermore, this solution is known to be a rectifying curve by B. Y. Chen’s work. This project, uses a different approach to characterize these rectifying curves.

This paper investigates two problems. The first problem relates to figuring out what we can say about a unit speed curve with nonzero curvature if every rectifying plane of the curve passes through a fixed point  in ℝ3. Secondly, some formulas of curvature and torsion for sphere curves are identified.

KEYWORDS Space Curve; Rectifying Curve; Curvature; Torsion; Rectifying Plane; Tangent Vector; Normal Vector; Binormal Vector

Previvors’ Perceptions of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Health-related Information 

Rachel Koruo, Marleah Dean, Courtney L. Scherr, Meredith Clements, Amy A. Ross

ABSTRACT The purpose of this study is to identify female previvors’ perceptions of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) health-related information. Previvors are individuals who have tested positive for a harmful BRCA genetic mutation, which increases their lifetime risk for HBOC, but who have never been diagnosed with cancer. As a part of a larger research project where 25 qualitative interviews were conducted, this manuscript reports on the analysis of ten interviews which are most relevant to the research focus. Using the constant comparative method, themes were created and developed from the interview data. The results indicate previvors view information as a source of power. These women reported feeling personally responsible for seeking and sharing information, while also relying on medical professionals to provide credible sources of information. Furthermore, previvors emphasized a desire for medical professionals to be more informed about BRCA in order to assist them in making personal health decisions.  This study presents the perceptions regarding HBOC information as reported by this population of previvors. The findings indicate that information is not provided in an organized way relative to their specific needs. Therefore, the authors recommend an educational intervention tool for previvors and their medical professionals.

KEYWORDS BRCA; Communication; Qualitative; Hereditary Cancer; Health Experiences; Previvors; Medicine; Patient Perspectives; Health Information

Determination of Fitted Size Distribution for Atmospheric Aerosols

Kaitlin M. DuPaul, Adam T. Whitten

ABSTRACT A synthetic set of aerosol optical depths (AODs) generated from a standard set of aerosol size distributions was analyzed by a parameter based particle swarm optimization (PBPSO) routine in order to test the reproducibility of the results. Junge and lognormal size distributions were consistently reproduced. Gamma and bimodal distributions showed large variability in solutions.  values were used to determine the best subset of possible solutions allowing quantification of parameters with uncertainties when using PBPSO. AODs measured by a sun photometer on a clear day (20160413) and a foggy day (20160508) were then processed by the PBPSO program for both bimodal and lognormal distributions. Results showed that in general the foggy day has smaller  values indicating that the PBPSO algorithm is better able to match AODs when there is a larger aerosol load in the atmosphere. The bimodal distribution from the clear day best describes the aerosol size distribution since the  values are lower. The lognormal distribution best describes the aerosol size distribution on the foggy day (20160508).

KEYWORDS Atmospheric Aerosols; Size Distributions; Junge; Bimodal; Gamma; Lognormal; Particle Swarm Optimization; Inverse Problem; Aerosol Optical Depth

Strategy Abandonment Effects in Cued Recall

Stephanie A. Robinson, Amy A. Overman, & Joseph D.W. Stephens

ABSTRACT Decades of research have investigated the effects of encoding strategies in the formation of associations in memory. Despite this, it is not known whether or how changes in the use of strategies within a brief time span may affect memory. For example, what is the effect on memory of abandoning a recent strategy or switching to a different strategy? The present study systematically varied the strategies used by participants in two closely-spaced associative memory tasks. Results indicated that intentional abandonment of a verbal (sentence-generation) strategy had disproportionately negative consequences on memory for semantically unrelated word pairs. The findings suggest that memory encoding is affected by differences in strategy use across recent memory tasks, and have implications for effective use of memory strategies in practical settings.

KEYWORDS Cued Recall; Encoding Strategies; Inhibition

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