Middlebury

 

Bob Cluss

Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry

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Phone: work802.443.5025
Office Hours: 2014 - 2015: On leave, available by appointment
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The bacterial spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi is the causative agent of Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne disease in the United States.  This obligate microbial parasite naturally cycles between mammalian and tick hosts, requiring the spirochete to respond and adapt to a myriad of changes, including temperature, immune recognition and response, pH, and nutrient availability. We are currently investigating extracellular protein secretion by the spirochete, and by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry protein sequencing and immunochemistry are identifying and characterizing proteins that accumulate in culture medium.  These exoproteins may be important in helping the spirochete to survive within the host, evade the immune system, and directly or indirectly cause pathology.  Several exoprotein genes have been cloned and recombinant protein will be used to test hypotheses that these factors play a role in the host-parasite interaction.  Oms28, a previously described pore-producing protein, may damage host cells.  Enolase, which is an enzyme involved in glucose metabolism and related to the same enzyme in streptococci that triggers protein degradation, may serve as a spreading factor following mammalian infection.

 

Courses

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

CHEM 0425 - Biochemistry Of Metabolism      

Biochemistry of Metabolism
A living organism requires thousands of coordinated individual chemical reactions for life. In this course we will survey the major integrated metabolic pathways of living cells and whole organisms, with particular attention to enzyme mechanisms, as well as the regulation, and integration of metabolism from the molecular to the whole organism level. The synthesis and degradation of carbohydrates, amino acids, lipids, and nucleotides are investigated, along with the mechanisms of energy flow and cell-to-cell communication. While common metabolic processes are emphasized, unique aspects of metabolism that permit cells to function in unusual niches will also be considered. Mechanistic and regulatory aspects of metabolic processes will be reinforced through an investigation of inborn errors and organic defects that lead to disease. (CHEM 0322) 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012

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CHEM 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study Project
Individual study for qualified students. (Approval required)

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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CHEM 0700 - Senior Research      

Senior Research
In this course students complete individual projects involving laboratory research on a topic chosen by the student and a faculty advisor. Prior to registering for CHEM 0700, a student must have discussed and agreed upon a project topic with a faculty member in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. Attendance at all Chemistry and Biochemistry Department seminars is expected. (Approval required; open only to seniors)

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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CHEM 0701 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Students who have initiated research projects in CHEM 0400 and who plan to complete a senior thesis should register for CHEM 0701. Students are required to write a thesis, give a public presentation, and defend their thesis before a committee of at least three faculty members. The final grade will be determined by the department. Attendance at all Chemistry and Biochemistry Department seminars is expected. (CHEM 0400; approval required)

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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FYSE 1108 - Chemical & Biological Warfare      

Science Demonized: Chemical and Biological Warfare
The Geneva Protocol of 1925 called for a halt to chemical and biological warfare. Since that time, creation of new technologies and advances in the fields of chemistry, molecular biology, and biochemistry have created the threat for even greater devastation. In this seminar we will examine the development and use of these agents, with attention to their chemical, biochemical, and biological mechanisms. Discussion and readings will focus on specific agents such as anthrax, plague, "super" viruses, and chemical nerve poisons. Texts and readings by Camus, Alibek, Miller, Tucker, and others will trace the creation and use of these weapons from WWI to the present. International efforts to prevent deployment and medical strategies to protect military and civilian personnel will also be considered.

CW SCI

Fall 2013

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MBBC 0700 - Senior Research      

Senior Thesis
Seniors conducting independent study in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry should register for MBBC 0700 unless they are completing a thesis project in which case they should register for MBBC 0701. (Approval required).

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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MBBC 0701 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
Students conducting independent thesis research in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry must register for MBBC 0701 while completing research projects initiated in BIOL 0500, MBBC 0700, or CHEM 0400. Students will organize and lead regular discussions of their research and research methods, and attend weekly meetings with their designated laboratory group to foster understanding of their special area, and practice the stylistic and technical aspects of scientific writing needed to write their thesis. (CHEM 0400 or BIOL 0500 or MBBC 0700) (Approval required).

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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Recent Grants

2006 NIH  IDeA Network of Research Excellence (INBRE) proposal (through the University of Vermont) - - "Cytopathic Effect of Borrelia burgdorferi Exoproteins Oms28 and Enolase" (R. Cluss, P. I.)  (June 1, 2006 to May 31, 2007)$74,650.

2005 NIH  IDeA Network of Research Excellence (INBRE) proposal (through the University of Vermont) -project "Cytopathic Effect of the Borrelia burgdorferi
Exoproteins Oms28 and Enolase". $72,801.

2004 NIH BRIN award (through the Vermont Genetics Network, The University of Vermont). To Brooke Gardner ('06) - "Biochemical Characterization of the Enolase
Secreted by Borrelia burgdorferi" $5,000.

2004 NIH BRIN award (through the Vermont Genetics Network, The University of Vermont). "Is the Borrelia burgdorferi Osm28 Secreted Porin a Cytotoxin?"
(R. Cluss, P. I)  $10,000.

2002-05 AAAS/Merck Chemical Foundation -  To Middlebury College. "New Frontiers in the Molecular Sciences" Support for Undergraduate Research in
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a Summer Visiting Scientist Lecture Series (R. Cluss, Principal Investigator) $60,000 over three years.

2002 NIH BRIN award (through the Vermont Genetics Network, The University of Vermont). "Characterization of the Predicted 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA Reductase
of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme Disease Spirochete".  $10,000.

Recent Publications

* indicates undergraduate co-authors

Cluss, R. G., Silverman*, D. A., and T. R. Stafford*. 2004. Extracellular secretion of the Borrelia burgdorferi Oms28 Porin and Bgp, a glycosaminoglycan binding protein. Infect. Immun. 62:6279-6286.

Cluss, R.G., A. S. Goel*, H. Rehm*, J. G. Schoenecker* and J.T. Boothby. 1996.  Coordinate synthesis and turnover of heat shock proteins in Borrelia burgdorferi: Degradation of DnaK during recovery from heat shock.  Infect. Immun.  64:1736-1743.

Bruck, D. K., M. L. Talbot, R. G. Cluss, and J. T. Boothby. 1995. Ultrastructural characterization of the stages of spheroplast preparation of Borrelia burgdorferi. Journal of Microbiological Methods. 23 (2):219-228.

Cluss, R. G. and J. T. Boothby. 1990. Thermoregulation of protein synthesis in Borrelia burgdorferi.  Infect. Immun.  58:1038-1042.