Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Jenny J. Yang - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Aimin Liu - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Zhi-Ren Liu - Committee Member


More than one-third of all Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans employ image-enhancing contrast agents to increase the differential signal intensity between diseased and normal tissue. Because current clinical contrast agents exhibit low relaxivity (mM-1 s-1), low dose efficiency, and rapid secretion, we have designed a group of protein-based MRI contrast agents with multiple gadolinium binding sites. In this study, the developed purification method for Class ProCA-3 agents allows for a quick and cost-effective way to abstract up to 109 mg of pure, soluble protein from a 1L E. Coli cell pellet devoid of DNA or RNA “contamination” for extensive animal studies. Circular dichroism far-UV spectra ensure the metal stability of the agents, revealing maintenance of their native α-helical structure in the presence and absence of metal ions. Furthermore, substantial evidence supports the high dose efficiency of these agents, exhibiting up to five folds higher relaxivity than their analogous commercial competitors.