Bob Cluss
Office
McCardell Bicentennial Hall 450
Tel
(802) 443-5025
Email
rcluss@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall 2022: Mon 11 AM – Noon, Wed 1-2 PM (MBH 450), & by arrangement
Additional Programs
Chemistry and Biochemistry Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

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. In a collaboration with the University of Vermont Proteomics Facility, we have employed liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry protein sequencing to determine an acetylproteome  for the spirochete.  A total of 103 proteins are modified with an acetyl group at one or more lysine residues. Many of these proteins are enzymes and several have well-defined non-enzymatic moonlighting functions.  We are currently investigating how acetylation effects the structure and enzymatic and  non-enzymatic functions of two enzymes. One of these is enolase, an enzyme involved in glucose metabolism which is homologous to the same enzyme in streptococci that triggers protein degradation and may serve as a spreading factor following mammalian infection.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Exercise Biochemistry and the Limits of Human Endurance
In this course we will investigate the biochemical, biological, genetic, and psychological factors associated with athletic performance. We will discuss the origins of exercise physiology in the early 1900’s, introducing topics such as metabolic fuels and their utilization, oxygen and water, and physiological adaptations to training. Special attention will be paid to muscle (power), pulmonary organization and function (VO2 max), and how psychology and the brain (the master regulator) contribute to achieve maximum performance. We will also read and discuss recent papers from popular and primary literature. Films and guest lectures by experts and accomplished endurance athletes will provide a personal perspective. Laboratory and training room sessions will put themes into practice. We will also consider controversies such as performance enhancing drugs and sex determination.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

Biochemistry Laboratory
Experimental biochemistry emphasizing the isolation, purification and characterization of enzymes and the cloning of genes and expression of recombinant protein. Traditional biochemical techniques such as UV-VIS spectroscopy, gel filtration, ion exchange and affinity chromatography, electrophoresis, and immunoblotting will be used in the investigation of several enzymes. Specific experiments will emphasize enzyme purification, enzyme kinetics, and enzyme characterization by biochemical and immunochemical methods. Major techniques in molecular biology will be introduced through an extended experiment that will include DNA purification, polymerase chain reaction, bacterial transformation, DNA sequencing, and the expression, purification, and characterization of the recombinant protein. Class discussions emphasize the underlying principles of the biochemical and molecular techniques employed in the course, and how these experimental tools are improved for particular applications. Laboratory reports stress experimental design, data presentation, and interpretation of results. (CHEM 0322) 2 hr. lect., 6 hrs. lab.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

Biochemistry of Macromolecules
This course is an introduction to biochemistry that focuses on the chemical and physical properties of amino acids, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids. Specific topics include the structure and function of proteins, enzyme mechanisms and kinetics, how carbohydrates and lipids contribute to vital cellular and organismal functions, and informational biochemistry (DNA, RNA, and specific enzymes and processes leading to the production of regulatory RNA and proteins). Specific topics from the primary literature will be explored to illustrate how particular techniques and experimental approaches are used to gain a new understanding of biochemistry and molecular biology. (CHEM 0203 or CHEM 0242) 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Seminar in Chemical Research
This seminar provides students with experiences to support the preparation of a senior thesis. As the course involves participation in a mentored laboratory project and the intent to complete a senior thesis, students must make arrangements to work with a faculty advisor prior to gaining approval for course registration. The classroom portion of this seminar focuses on reading the scientific literature, giving effective oral presentations, and writing the thesis introduction. Particular emphasis will be given to computer and technology issues related to oral and written presentations. Participation will normally be followed by registration for CHEM 0500 or CHEM 0700 (winter term and spring). (Senior standing; Approval only) 2 hrs. sem., 12 hrs. lab.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Fall 2022

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Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

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)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

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)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Independent Research
This course is for non-seniors wishing to conduct independent research in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Additional requirements include attendance at all MBBC-sponsored seminars and seminars sponsored by the faculty mentor’s department, and participation in any scheduled meetings and disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. (Approval required).

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Fall 2023

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Course Description

Senior Independent Research
Seniors conducting independent research in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry under the guidance of a faculty mentor should register for MBBC 0700 unless they are completing a thesis project (in which case they should register for MBBC 0701). Additional requirements include attendance at all MBBC-sponsored seminars and seminars sponsored by the faculty mentor’s department, and participation in any scheduled meetings and disciplinary sub-groups and lab groups. (Approval required).

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Course Description

Senior Thesis
This course is for seniors completing independent thesis research in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry that was initiated in BIOL 0500, CHEM 0400, MBBC 0500, or MBBC 0700. Students will attend weekly meetings with their designated research group and engage in one-on-one meetings with their research mentor to foster understanding in their specialized research area. Students will also practice the stylistic and technical aspects of scientific writing needed to write their thesis. (BIOL 0500, CHEM 0400, MBBC 0500, MBBC 0700) (Approval required).

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

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Publications

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.