Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Tarun Goswami, D.Sc. (Advisor); Ulas Sunar, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Jaime E. Ramirez-Vick, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering (MSBME)


21% of U.S adults experienced mental illnesses in 2020. Nearly 1 in 4 active- duty military personnel showed signs of mental health conditions in 2014 [89]. Mental health can be identified in the body by different biomarkers. These biomarkers potentially could be controlled by riboswitches, which could help mental illnesses and regulate diseases. Riboswitches are desirable in these cases due to responding without affecting vital functions. Riboswitches are located in mRNA and switch “ON” or “OFF” depending on the concentration of a biomarker [13]. In this research, riboswitches were re-engineered to take a known riboswitch and control its response in the presence of a biomarker. This was done by computationally changing PreQ1, a known riboswitch that has the smallest aptamer, and then experimentally testing against biomarkers, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S), Serotonin, Cortisol, Dopamine, Epinephrine, and Norepinephrine. A total of 7 variant riboswitches were tested in this research, 4 created computationally and 3 created in research [53]. The results from these variants showed that variants 1 and 2 had different responses to DHEA-S then the expected PreQ1 response. A dose response test confirmed this by having a downward trend as DHEA-S concentration increased. In conclusion of this research, riboswitches can be re-engineered to have a different response to biomarkers but keep the same structure.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Biomedical, Industrial & Human Factors Engineering

Year Degree Awarded