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  • Coviello, Andrea D.; Haring, Robin; Wellons, Melissa; Vaidya, Dhananjay; Lehtimaki, Terho; Keildson, Sarah; Lunetta, Kathryn L.; He, Chunyan; Fornage, Myriam; Lagou, Vasiliki; Mangino, Massimo; Onland-Moret, N. Charlotte; Chen, Brian; Eriksson, Joel; Garcia, Melissa; Mei, Yong; Koster, Annemarie; Lohman, Kurt; Lyytikainen, Leo-Pekka; Petersen, Ann-Kristin; Prescott, Jennifer; Stolk, Lisette; Vandenput, Liesbeth; Wood, Andrew R.; Zhuang, Wei Vivian; Ruokonen, Aimo; Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa; Pouta, Anneli; Bandinelli, Stefania; Biffar, Reiner; Brabant, Georg; Cox, David G.; Chen, Yuhui; Cummings, Steven; Ferrucci, Luigi; Gunter, Marc J.; Hankinson, Susan E.; Martikainen, Hannu; Hofman, Albert; Homuth, Georg; Illig, Thomas; Jansson, John-Olov; Johnson, Andrew D.; Karasik, David; Karlsson, Magnus; Kettunen, Johannes; Kiel, Douglas P.; Kraft, Peter; Liu, Jingmin; Ljunggren, Osten; Lorentzon, Mattias; Maggio, Marcello; Markus, Marcello R. P.; Mellstrom, Dan; Miljkovic, Iva; Mirel, Daniel; Nelson, Sarah; Papunen, Laure Morin; Peeters, Petra H. M.; Prokopenko, Inga; Raffel, Leslie; Reincke, Martin; Reiner, Alex P.; Rexrode, Kathryn; Rivadeneira, Fernando; Schwartz, Stephen M.; Siscovick, David; Soranzo, Nicole; Stockl, Doris; Tworoger, Shelley; Uitterlinden, Andre G.; van Gils, Carla H.; Vasan, Ramachandran S.; Wichmann, H. -Erich; Zhai, Guangju; Bhasin, Shalender; Bidlingmaier, Martin; Chanock, Stephen J.; De Vivo, Immaculata; Harris, Tamara B.; Hunter, David J.; Kahonen, Mika; Liu, Simin; Ouyang, Pamela; Spector, Tim D.; van der Schouw, Yvonne T.; Viikari, Jorma; Wallaschofski, Henri; McCarthy, Mark I.; Frayling, Timothy M.; Murray, Anna; Franks, Steve; Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta; de Jong, Frank H.; Raitakari, Olli; Teumer, Alexander; Ohlsson, Claes; Murabito, Joanne M.; Perry, John R. B. (2012)
  • Everson, Richard; Pettitt, Louise; Forman, Oliver P.; Dower-Tylee, Olivia; McLaughlin, Bryan; Ahonen, Saija; Kaukonen, Maria; Komaromy, Andras M.; Lohi, Hannes; Mellersh, Cathryn S.; Sansom, Jane; Ricketts, Sally L. (2017)
    The domestic dog segregates a significant number of inherited progressive retinal diseases, several of which mirror human retinal diseases and which are collectively termed progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). In 2014, a novel form of PRA was reported in the Swedish Vallhund breed, and the disease was mapped to canine chromosome 17. The causal mutation was not identified, but expression analyses of the retinas of affected Vallhunds demonstrated a 6-fold increased expression of the MERTK gene compared to unaffected dogs. Using 24 retinopathy cases and 97 controls with no clinical signs of retinopathy, we replicated the chromosome 17 association in Swedish Vallhunds from the UK and aimed to elucidate the causal variant underlying this association using whole genome sequencing (WGS) of an affected dog. This revealed a 6-8 kb insertion in intron 1 of MERTK that was not present in WGS of 49 dogs of other breeds. Sequencing and BLASTN analysis of the inserted segment was consistent with the insertion comprising a full-length intact LINE-1 retroelement. Testing of the LINE-1 insertion for association with retinopathy in the UK set of 24 cases and 97 controls revealed a strong statistical association (P-value 6.0 x 10(-11)) that was subsequently replicated in the original Finnish study set (49 cases and 89 controls (P-value 4.3 x 10(-19)). In a pooled analysis of both studies (73 cases and 186 controls), the LINE-1 insertion was associated with a similar to 20-fold increased risk of retinopathy (odds ratio 23.41, 95% confidence intervals 10.99-49.86, P-value 1.3 x 10(-27)). Our study adds further support for regulatory disruption of MERTK in Swedish Vallhund retinopathy; however, further work is required to establish a functional overexpression model. Future work to characterise the mechanism by which this intronic mutation disrupts gene regulation will further improve the understanding of MERTK biology and its role in retinal function.
  • Hakanpaa, Laura; Sipila, Tuomas; Leppanen, Veli-Matti; Gautam, Prson; Nurmi, Harri; Jacquemet, Guillaume; Eklund, Lauri; Ivaska, Johanna; Alitalo, Kari; Saharinen, Pipsa (2015)
  • Tiainen, Leena; Korhonen, Emilia A.; Leppänen, Veli-Matti; Luukkaala, Tiina; Hämäläinen, Mari; Tanner, Minna; Lahdenperä, Outi; Vihinen, Pia; Jukkola, Arja; Karihtala, Peeter; Aho, Sonja; Moilanen, Eeva; Alitalo, Kari; Kellokumpu-Lehtinen, Pirkko-Liisa (2019)
    BackgroundAngiopoietin growth factors (Angs) regulate angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis by binding to the endothelial Tie2 receptor. Ang2 expression is elevated in tissue hypoxia and inflammation, which also induce cleavage of the extracellular domain of the orphan Tie1 receptor. Here we have examined if the concentrations of Ang2 and the soluble extracellular domain of Tie1 in patient plasma are associated with the prognosis of patients with metastatic breast cancer.MethodsPlasma Tie1 and Ang2 levels were measured in metastatic breast cancer patients treated in a phase II trial with a taxane-bevacizumab combination chemotherapy in the first-line treatment setting. They were analyzed before treatment, after 6weeks and 6months of treatment, and at the final study visit. Using the median concentrations as cutoffs, Tie1 and Ang2 data were dichotomized into low and high concentration groups. Additionally, we analyzed Tie1 concentrations in plasma from 10 healthy women participating in a breast cancer primary prevention study.ResultsPlasma samples were available from 58 (89%) of the 65 patients treated in the trial. The baseline Tie1 levels of the healthy controls were significantly lower than those of the metastatic patients (p
  • Renko, Juho-Matti; Mahato, Arun Kumar; Visnapuu, Tanel; Valkonen, Konsta; Karelson, Mati; Voutilainen, Merja H.; Saarma, Mart; Tuominen, Raimo K.; Sidorova, Yulia A. (2021)
    Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder where loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra and dopamine depletion in the striatum cause characteristic motor symptoms. Currently, no treatment is able to halt the progression of PD. Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) rescues degenerating dopamine neurons both in vitro and in animal models of PD. When tested in PD patients, however, the outcomes from intracranial GDNF infusion paradigms have been inconclusive, mainly due to poor pharmacokinetic properties. Objective: We have developed drug-like small molecules, named BT compounds that activate signaling through GDNF's receptor, the transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase RET, both in vitro and in vivo and are able to penetrate through the blood-brain barrier. Here we evaluated the properties of BT44, a second generation RET agonist, in immortalized cells, dopamine neurons and rat 6-hydroxydopamine model of PD. Methods: We used biochemical, immunohistochemical and behavioral methods to evaluate the effects of BT44 on dopamine system in vitro and in vivo. Results: BT44 selectively activated RET and intracellular pro-survival AKT and MAPK signaling pathways in immortalized cells. In primary midbrain dopamine neurons cultured in serum-deprived conditions, BT44 promoted the survival of the neurons derived from wild-type, but not from RET knockout mice. BT44 also protected cultured wild-type dopamine neurons fromMPP+-induced toxicity. In a rat 6-hydroxydopamine model of PD, BT44 reduced motor imbalance and seemed to protect dopaminergic fibers in the striatum. Conclusion: BT44 holds potential for further development into a novel, possibly disease-modifying, therapy for PD.
  • Hollmen, Maija; Liu, Ping; Kurppa, Kari; Wildiers, Hans; Reinvall, Irene; Vandorpe, Thijs; Smeets, Ann; Deraedt, Karen; Vahlberg, Tero; Joensuu, Heikki; Leahy, Daniel J.; Schoffski, Patrick; Elenius, Klaus (2012)
  • Kurtzeborn, Kristen; Cebrian, Cristina; Kuure, Satu (2018)
    Classically, trophic factors are considered as proteins which support neurons in their growth, survival, and differentiation. However, most neurotrophic factors also have important functions outside of the nervous system. Especially essential renal growth and differentiation regulators are glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), and fibroblast growth factors (FGFs). Here we discuss how trophic factor-induced signaling contributes to the control of ureteric bud (UB) branching morphogenesis and to maintenance and differentiation of nephrogenic mesenchyme in embryonic kidney. The review includes recent advances in trophic factor functions during the guidance of branching morphogenesis and self-renewal versus differentiation decisions, both of which dictate the control of kidney size and nephron number. Creative utilization of current information may help better recapitulate renal differentiation in vitro, but it is obvious that significantly more basic knowledge is needed for development of regeneration-based renal therapies.
  • Fisher, Miranda L.; Loukola, Anu; Kaprio, Jaakko; Turner, Jill R. (ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE, 2015)
    International Review of Neurobiology
    Smoking is currently the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and is responsible for over four million deaths annually worldwide. Therefore, there is a vast clinical unmet need with regards to therapeutics targeting smoking cessation. This is even more apparent when examining smokers co-morbid with psychiatric illness, as rates of smoking in this population are similar to 4 x higher than in the general population. Examining common genetic and molecular signaling pathways impinging upon both smoking behavior and psychiatric illness will lead to a better understanding of co-morbid disorders and potential development of novel therapeutics. Studies have implicated the Neuregulin Signaling Pathway in the pathophysiology of a number of psychiatric illnesses. Additionally, recent studies have also shown an association between the Neuregulin Signaling Pathway and smoking behaviors. This review outlines basic mechanisms of the Neuregulin Signaling Pathway and how it may be exploited for precision medicine approaches in treating nicotine dependence and mental illness.
  • Lahtela, Jenni; Pradhan, Barun; Narhi, Katja; hemmes, Annabrita; Sarkioja, Merja; Kovanen, Panu E.; Brown, Arthur; Verschuren, Emmy W. (2015)
    Treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is based on histological analysis and molecular profiling of targetable driver oncogenes. Therapeutic responses are further defined by the landscape of passenger mutations, or loss of tumor suppressor genes. We report here a thorough study to address the physiological role of the putative lung cancer tumor suppressor EPH receptor A3 (EPHA3), a gene that is frequently mutated in human lung adenocarcinomas. Our data shows that homozygous or heterozygous loss of EphA3 does not alter the progression of murine adenocarcinomas that result from Kras mutation or loss of Trp53, and we detected negligible postnatal expression of EphA3 in adult wildtype lungs. Yet, EphA3 was expressed in the distal mesenchyme of developing mouse lungs, neighboring the epithelial expression of its Efna1 ligand; this is consistent with the known roles of EPH receptors in embryonic development. However, the partial loss of EphA3 leads only to subtle changes in epithelial Nkx2-1, endothelial Cd31 and mesenchymal Fgf10 RNA expression levels, and no macroscopic phenotypic effects on lung epithelial branching, mesenchymal cell proliferation, or abundance and localization of CD31-positive endothelia. The lack of a discernible lung phenotype in EphA3-null mice might indicate lack of an overt role for EPHA3 in the murine lung, or imply functional redundancy between EPHA receptors. Our study shows how biological complexity can challenge in vivo functional validation of mutations identified in sequencing efforts, and provides an incentive for the design of knock-in or conditional models to assign the role of EPHA3 mutation during lung tumorigenesis.
  • Karaman, Sinem; Leppänen, Veli-Matti; Alitalo, Kari (2018)
    Vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) are best known for their involvement in orchestrating the development and maintenance of the blood and lymphatic vascular systems. VEGFs are secreted by a variety of cells and they bind to their cognate tyrosine kinase VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) in endothelial cells to elicit various downstream effects. In recent years, there has been tremendous progress in elucidating different VEGF/VEGFR signaling functions in both the blood and lymphatic vascular systems. Here, and in the accompanying poster, we present key elements of the VEGF/VEGFR pathway and highlight the classical and newly discovered functions of VEGF signaling in blood and lymphatic vessel development and pathology.