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URA Archive
Scholars 2008 - 2009

Sara Kibrom, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

"Crotamine Interaction with Polysaccharides and Ternary Complex Formation"
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Richard Karpel
Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2010
Contact: jskibrom1@umbc.edu

Crotamine, a toxin from the venom of the South American rattlesnake, has the ability to be used as a drug delivery vehicle. Crotamine and crotamine-DNA complexes are observed to interact with actively proliferating (AP) cells. Other studies have also suggested that crotamine might have unique interaction with cell surface glycosaminoglycans (GAG) such as heparin sulphate proteoglycans (HSPGs) in order to enter cells. The binding properties of crotamine with oligosaccharides and long stranded DNA have already been determined in Dr. Karpel’s laboratory. We now want to expand our investigation and show its unique specificity for cells with cell surface HSPGs. This will be done by analysing its binding properties with heparin sulphate alone and then with the formation of ternary complexes of crotamine with GAG and DNA. Studying the formation of ternary complexes will help us understand how DNA can enter AP cells with cell surface HSPGs, such as cancerous cells, via crotamine. Establishing these properties will help us in the future to produce variants of crotamine that are less toxic, and have more focused and effective activities.