Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Kirkwood Land

First Committee Member

Lisa Wrischnik

Second Committee Member

Tara Thiemann

Abstract

Trichomoniasis is a common STD caused by the parasitic protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis. The parasite is estimated to have infected roughly 3.7 million Americans. Complications from trichomoniasis can lead to cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. One of the mechanisms of the parasite employs is using cysteine proteases to break down the cellular matrix of its host. However, three endogenous phytocystatin-like protease inhibitors have been found within the parasite’s genome. By recombinantly expressing these cystatins we have been able to test their ability to inhibit cysteine proteases such as papain and those found in T. vaginalis to find their effectiveness. By characterizing these inhibitors, it appears that they are effective at reducing the ability of T. vaginalis cysteine proteases and thus could be useful against the pathogenicity of the parasite.

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