Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Cell and Molecular Biology
Karen Ebenezer - Hunter College at the City University of New York
Co-Author(s): Joseph Verdi and Jayne Raper
Breast milk is the primary source of nutrition for newborns, containing a range of cholesterol, nutrients, and innate immune factors that protect infants from infection. Human milk contains active complement proteins and maternally transferred IgA 2 antibodies, but also has significant lipid content. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) complexes circulate in plasma, and transport cholesterol and lipid throughout the human body. These complexes are characterized by the presence of the structural cholesterol acceptor protein apolipoprotein A-1 (APOA1). Recently human breast milk proteome analyses have indicated the presence of APOA1. However, the relative amount of HDL in breast milk remains unclear and its presence has not been validated by conventional biochemistry. Additionally, our innate immune system is fortified by a specific subset of high-density lipoproteins, called trypanosome lytic factors (TLFs), named for their ability to kill an infective unicellular parasite called the African trypanosome. These TLFs contain two unique proteins in addition to APOAI: Haptoglobin-related protein (HPR) and apolipoprotein L-1 (APOL1), the latter of which induces the cellular death of a trypanosome through pore formation. Preliminary results show that human breast milk possesses a detectable degree of functional APOL1. Using various purification procedures and biochemical assays, we quantified relative amounts of APOL1 in human breast milk and investigated whether APOL1 is part of a larger TLF complex. Further research in this area can help shed light on whether the presence of these innate immune factors can confer potential physiological benefits to neonatal immune systems.Not Submitted
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Supported by NSF Grant 105-965413
Faculty Advisor: Jayne Raper, Jayne.Raper@nyumc.org
Role: I conducted all experiments that resulted in productive results for this research project. The preliminary data was obtained by a graduate student in the lab prior to these experiments, however.