Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dana "Nikki" Reinemann

Second Advisor

Ana Pavel

Third Advisor

Mirela Ovreiu

Relational Format



Astronauts encounter many forms of ionizing radiation during space travel. Ionizing radiation has been seen to cause cancer, cataracts, radiation sickness, tissue damage, hereditary effects, and damage to the central nervous system. Ionizing radiation can damage DNA molecules through oxidation, as well as other vital proteins like molecular motors. Kinesin-1 is a molecular motor protein that essential to intracellular transport. Microtubules serve as the “roadway” for kinesin transport, where kinesin converts chemical energy from ATP hydrolysis into mechanochemical “steps” to move along the microtubules. Optical trapping has been used in previous research to measure single kinesin motor properties. We have engineered a physiologically relevant kinesin-microtubule assay designed for the optical trap that gives a foundation for healthy mechanochemical performance. This model provided data of displacement profiles and force generation of kinesin-1. From this model, we could then introduce oxidative stresses to represent ionizing radiation effects. Hydrogen peroxide has been used in previous research to induce oxidative stress into molecular environments. This damaged assay showed significant changes to the molecular environment from the healthy model. These results allow for better understanding of molecular motor inhibition due to oxidative stress which can serve as the basis of treatment and prevention of radiation damage to astronauts in the future.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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