Browsing by Subject "yleinen mikrobiologia"

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  • Peltoniemi, Krista (Finnish Society of Forest Science, 2010)
    Boreal peatlands represent a considerable portion of the global carbon (C) pool. Water-level drawdown (WLD) causes peatland drying and induces a vegetation change, which affects the decomposition of soil organic matter and the release of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4). The objective of this thesis was to study the microbial communities related to the C cycle and their response to WLD in two boreal peatlands. Both sampling depth and site type had a strong impact on all microbial communities. In general, bacteria dominated the deeper layers of the nutrient-rich fen and the wettest surfaces of the nutrient-poor bog sites, whereas fungi seemed more abundant in the drier surfaces of the bog. WLD clearly affected the microbial communities but the effect was dependent on site type. The fungal and methane-oxidizing bacteria (MOB) community composition changed at all sites but the actinobacterial community response was apparent only in the fen after WLD. Microbial communities became more similar among sites after long-term WLD. Litter quality had a large impact on community composition, whereas the effects of site type and WLD were relatively minor. The decomposition rate of fresh organic matter was influenced slightly by actinobacteria, but not at all by fungi. Field respiration measurements in the northern fen indicated that WLD accelerates the decomposition of soil organic matter. In addition, a correlation between activity and certain fungal sequences indicated that community composition affects the decomposition of older organic matter in deeper peat layers. WLD had a negative impact on CH4 oxidation, especially in the oligotrophic fen. Fungal sequences were matched to taxa capable of utilizing a broad range of substrates. Most of the actinobacterial sequences could not be matched to characterized taxa in reference databases. This thesis represents the first investigation of microbial communities and their response to WLD among a variety of boreal peatland habitats. The results indicate that microbial community responses to WLD are complex but dependent on peatland type, litter quality, depth, and variable among microbes.
  • Juottonen, Heli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Methanogens are anaerobic Archaea with unique energy metabolism resulting in production of methane (CH4). In the atmosphere methane is an effective greenhouse gas. The largest natural sources of atmospheric methane are wetlands, including peat-forming mires. Methane emissions vary greatly between and within mires, depending on season and hydrological and botanical characteristics. The aim of this work was to elucidate the microbiology underlying the variation. Methanogens and potential methane production were assessed along spatial and temporal gradients of ecohydrology, season, ash fertilization, and peat depth in three Finnish boreal mires. Non-methanogenic Archaea and Bacteria were additionally addressed as potential substrate producers and competitors to methanogens. Characterization of microbial communities targeted the mcrA gene, essential in methane production, and archaeal or bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA gene. The communities were differentiated by analysis of clone libraries, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) fingerprinting. Methanogen communities and methane production changed markedly along an ecohydrological gradient from fen to bog, with changing vegetation and pH. The most acidic Sphagnum bog showed mainly Methanomicrobiales-associated, hydrogenotrophic Fen cluster methanogens, whereas the oligotrophic and mesotrophic fens with higher pH and sedge coverage had more diverse communities including acetoclastic methanogens. Season had a minor effect on the archaeal community in an acidic oligotrophic fen, but the temporal variation of methane production potential was substantial. Winter potential was unexpectedly high, and active methanogens were detected in winter peat. Ash fertilization, a forestry practice for promoting tree growth, had no substantial effects on methane production or methanogen communities in a drained bog, but the communities changed with peat depth. Comparison of three mcrA primer sets revealed that their coverage of methanogens from the drained bog was similar, but the quantitative representations of communities were primer-dependent. Bacterial and non-methanogenic archaeal groups detected in mires included Deltaproteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, and Crenarchaeota of groups 1.1c and 1.3. Their detection forms a starting point for further studies to distinguish possible interactions with methanogens. Overall, the results indicate that methanogen community composition reflects chemical or botanical gradients that affect methane production, such as mire hydrology. Predictions of methane production in the spatially heterogeneous mires could thus benefit from characterization of methanogens and their ecophysiology.
  • Kanerva, Sonja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Increased intestinal permeability and its role in autoimmune, metabolic and chronic intestinal diseases is under extensive research as the “leaky gut” is considered as a potential target for preventive and therapeutic strategies in wide range of diseases. Zonulin, an eukaryotic analogue of Vibrio cholerae derived Zonula occludens toxin, which induces tight junction disassembly, has recently become a popular serum-based biomarker of intestinal permeability in biomedical research, even though the link between serum zonulin levels and functional measures of intestinal permeability has never been validated properly in humans. In addition, surprisingly little is known about the location and regulation of zonulin expression in the humans despite the protein was discovered almost two decades ago. Zonulin, also known as pre-haptoglobin-2, is an uncleaved precursor form of haptoglobin that is abundantly expressed in the liver. Zonulin, in turn, based on studies on rats, rabbits and monkeys, is expressed in the small intestine and stimulated by exposure to bacteria and gliadin, but no other stimulators have been described so far. It is also unclear, if different bacteria can induce different responses in zonulin secretion as only the effect of gram-negative enterobacteria has been documented so far. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of selected intestinal bacteria and of two known upregulators of haptoglobin, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), on zonulin secretion in vitro. The impact of two gram-positive probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG & Bifidobacterium bifidum) and of two commensal gram-negative bacterial strains (Escherichia coli DH5α & Escherichia coli RY13) were tested for zonulin secretion in HT-29 intestinal epithelial cells, in addition to IL-6. Two separate lineages of immortalized human hepatocytes were tested for zonulin secretion by stimulation of LPS and IL-6. In addition, different immunological methods were assessed for quantification of zonulin, as the potential cross-reactivity of our primary analysis method, a commercial zonulin ELISA kit from Immundiagnostik AG that is also the main method used in the published zonulin studies, became more evident at the beginning of this thesis project. The main findings of this study were that the widely used commercial zonulin ELISA from Immundiagnostik AG is not specific for zonulin, but instead cross-reacts at least with complement C3, in line with the results published by other group during this work. Our further experiments comparing the signals of the above-mentioned zonulin ELISA and complement C3 ELISA for serum samples showed that there was only weak correlation between the obtained signals, suggesting that the zonulin antibody does not directly bind to complement C3. By using dot blot, western blot and immunoprecipitation, we found that the cross-reaction only occurred in native conditions. Based on zonulin ELISA measurements of the cell culture media from the in vitro experiments, very low signal was obtained for both intestinal and hepatic cells. Among the tested bacteria, only exposure to Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG led to a significant increase in the release of target protein. In hepatic cells, LPS had no effect, while IL-6 led to a significant increase of zonulin ELISA signal in one of the tested hepatic lines. However, it is currently difficult to differentiate if the low detected “zonulin” levels in this study are due to low level of secretion, or rather due to the lack of a proper method to detect zonulin. Taken together, these observations suggest that the most commonly used zonulin ELISA and other related, commercially available antibody-based methods for zonulin detection should be utilized with caution, as these antibodies cross-react with other protein(s). Hence, the serum “zonulin” cannot be considered as a biomarker of intestinal permeability until the captured protein(s) are identified, and similarly the anticipated effects of intestinal bacteria on zonulin expression cannot be reliably investigated with the currently available antibodies.
  • Palojärvi, Ansa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Agricultural productivity has improved significantly in recent decades. World food production has more than tripled through intensive crop production. In addition to improved food production and safety, environmental problems have also increased. However, due to global population growth, food production needs to be further intensified. This thesis is related to the sustainable intensification of crop production and the improvement of crop resilience. The study examined the effects of agricultural management practices on soil microbial communities and the ecosystem services they provide. In particular, the possibilities to improve the plant disease suppression of field microbiota and appearance of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) by tillage methods and crop diversity were in focus. In addition, the amount and location of different carbon fractions in the soil profile were investigated. The aim was also to identify useful indicators for beneficial soil microbial activity for soil quality monitoring. The studies utilized the field experiments and a cross-site comparison of several long-term tillage fields. The ability of soil microbiota to suppress fungi (fungistasis) and general disease suppression was often enhanced by the long-term reduced and no-tillage practices, compared with conventional mouldboard ploughing. The result could not be generalized to specific management but could be linked to the higher biomass of soil microbiota and fungi as well as the soil labile carbon content. Based on the results, the strengthening of soil disease suppression was reflected in lower prevalence of the test pathogen (F. culmorum) in the cereals, suggesting an impact on crop production. Reduced tillage was shown to alter the vertical distribution of carbon fractions and accumulate soil organic carbon (SOC), labile carbon, and microbial biomass in the topsoil layer. However, the SOC sequestration in the whole soil profile was not necessarily increased. Mycotrophy of host plants varied considerably between the special plants studied. Mycotrophy of the crop plant had a strong effect on the concentration of AMF in the rhizosphere and bulk soil. Field observations confirmed that the ecosystem services of microbiota could be enhanced by the choice of agricultural management although the effects of a specific management method may not be directly and generally related to the activity. The effects on the fungal community and crop performance should be considered in relation to the crop sequence used. In addition to this, potentially, single management practices have a combined effect on soil health. Soil microbiological ecosystem services need simple indicators to be used in developing and monitoring sustainable agricultural production. The intensity of disease suppression in the soil could be reliably assessed by a simple laboratory test. Soil labile carbon (POM-C, Cmic) is potentially a useful indicator for disease suppression. Cell membrane lipid assays (PLFA, NLFA) proved to be effective indicators for estimating AMF biomass in arable soil. Cultivation measures were shown to have a significant impact on the community structure and function of the field microbiota. In the light of these results, it is absolutely essential to take into account the functionality of the whole soil microbiome in the design of sustainable intensification of agricultural management practices.
  • Spuul, Pirjo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    All positive-strand RNA viruses utilize cellular membranes for the assembly of their replication complexes, which results in extensive membrane modification in infected host cells. These alterations act as structural and functional scaffolds for RNA replication, providing protection for the viral double-stranded RNA against host defences. It is known that different positive-strand RNA viruses alter different cellular membranes. However, the origin of the targeted membranes, the mechanisms that direct replication proteins to specific membranes and the steps in the formation of the membrane bound replication complex are not completely understood. Alphaviruses (including Semliki Forest virus, SFV), members of family Togaviridae, replicate their RNA in association with membranes derived from the endosomal and lysosomal compartment, inducing membrane invaginations called spherules. Spherule structures have been shown to be the specific sites for RNA synthesis. Four replication proteins, nsP1-nsP4, are translated as a polyprotein (P1234) which is processed autocatalytically and gives rise to a membrane-bound replication complex. Membrane binding is mediated via nsP1 which possesses an amphipathic α-helix (binding peptide) in the central region of the protein. The aim of this thesis was to characterize the association of the SFV replication complex with cellular membranes and the modification of the membranes during virus infection. Therefore, it was necessary to set up the system for determining which viral components are needed for inducing the spherules. In addition, the targeting of the replication complex, the formation site of the spherules and their intracellular trafficking were studied in detail. The results of current work demonstrate that mutations in the binding peptide region of nsP1 are lethal for virus replication and change the localization of the polyprotein precursor P123. The replication complex is first targeted to the plasma membrane where membrane invaginations, spherules, are induced. Using a specific regulated endocytosis event the spherules are internalized from the plasma membrane in neutral carrier vesicles and transported via an actin-and microtubule-dependent manner to the pericentriolar area. Homotypic fusions and fusions with pre-existing acidic organelles lead to the maturation of previously described cytopathic vacuoles with hundreds of spherules on their limiting membranes. This work provides new insights into the membrane binding mechanism of SFV replication complex and its role in the virus life cycle. Development of plasmid-driven system for studying the formation of the replication complex described in this thesis allows various applications to address different steps in SFV life cycle and virus-host interactions in the future. This trans-replication system could be applied for many different viruses. In addition, the current work brings up new aspects of membranes and cellular components involved in SFV replication leading to further understanding in the formation and dynamics of the membrane-associated replication complex.
  • Sorsa, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC) represent a diverse group of strains of E. coli, which infect extraintestinal sites, such as the urinary tract, the bloodstream, the meninges, the peritoneal cavity, and the lungs. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) caused by uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC), the major subgroup of ExPEC, are among the most prevalent microbial diseases world wide and a substantial burden for public health care systems. UTIs are responsible for serious morbidity and mortality in the elderly, in young children, and in immune-compromised and hospitalized patients. ExPEC strains are different, both from genetic and clinical perspectives, from commensal E. coli strains belonging to the normal intestinal flora and from intestinal pathogenic E. coli strains causing diarrhea. ExPEC strains are characterized by a broad range of alternate virulence factors, such as adhesins, toxins, and iron accumulation systems. Unlike diarrheagenic E. coli, whose distinctive virulence determinants evoke characteristic diarrheagenic symptoms and signs, ExPEC strains are exceedingly heterogeneous and are known to possess no specific virulence factors or a set of factors, which are obligatory for the infection of a certain extraintestinal site (e. g. the urinary tract). The ExPEC genomes are highly diverse mosaic structures in permanent flux. These strains have obtained a significant amount of DNA (predictably up to 25% of the genomes) through acquisition of foreign DNA from diverse related or non-related donor species by lateral transfer of mobile genetic elements, including pathogenicity islands (PAIs), plasmids, phages, transposons, and insertion elements. The ability of ExPEC strains to cause disease is mainly derived from this horizontally acquired gene pool; the extragenous DNA facilitates rapid adaptation of the pathogen to changing conditions and hence the extent of the spectrum of sites that can be infected. However, neither the amount of unique DNA in different ExPEC strains (or UPEC strains) nor the mechanisms lying behind the observed genomic mobility are known. Due to this extreme heterogeneity of the UPEC and ExPEC populations in general, the routine surveillance of ExPEC is exceedingly difficult. In this project, we presented a novel virulence gene algorithm (VGA) for the estimation of the extraintestinal virulence potential (VP, pathogenicity risk) of clinically relevant ExPECs and fecal E. coli isolates. The VGA was based on a DNA microarray specific for the ExPEC phenotype (ExPEC pathoarray). This array contained 77 DNA probes homologous with known (e.g. adhesion factors, iron accumulation systems, and toxins) and putative (e.g. genes predictably involved in adhesion, iron uptake, or in metabolic functions) ExPEC virulence determinants. In total, 25 of DNA probes homologous with known virulence factors and 36 of DNA probes representing putative extraintestinal virulence determinants were found at significantly higher frequency in virulent ExPEC isolates than in commensal E. coli strains. We showed that the ExPEC pathoarray and the VGA could be readily used for the differentiation of highly virulent ExPECs both from less virulent ExPEC clones and from commensal E. coli strains as well. Implementing the VGA in a group of unknown ExPECs (n=53) and fecal E. coli isolates (n=37), 83% of strains were correctly identified as extraintestinal virulent or commensal E. coli. Conversely, 15% of clinical ExPECs and 19% of fecal E. coli strains failed to raster into their respective pathogenic and non-pathogenic groups. Clinical data and virulence gene profiles of these strains warranted the estimated VPs; UPEC strains with atypically low risk-ratios were largely isolated from patients with certain medical history, including diabetes mellitus or catheterization, or from elderly patients. In addition, fecal E. coli strains with VPs characteristic for ExPEC were shown to represent the diagnostically important fraction of resident strains of the gut flora with a high potential of causing extraintestinal infections. Interestingly, a large fraction of DNA probes associated with the ExPEC phenotype corresponded to novel DNA sequences without any known function in UTIs and thus represented new genetic markers for the extraintestinal virulence. These DNA probes included unknown DNA sequences originating from the genomic subtractions of four clinical ExPEC isolates as well as from five novel cosmid sequences identified in the UPEC strains HE300 and JS299. The characterized cosmid sequences (pJS332, pJS448, pJS666, pJS700, and pJS706) revealed complex modular DNA structures with known and unknown DNA fragments arranged in a puzzle-like manner and integrated into the common E. coli genomic backbone. Furthermore, cosmid pJS332 of the UPEC strain HE300, which carried a chromosomal virulence gene cluster (iroBCDEN) encoding the salmochelin siderophore system, was shown to be part of a transmissible plasmid of Salmonella enterica. Taken together, the results of this project pointed towards the assumptions that first, (i) homologous recombination, even within coding genes, contributes to the observed mosaicism of ExPEC genomes and secondly, (ii) besides en block transfer of large DNA regions (e.g. chromosomal PAIs) also rearrangements of small DNA modules provide a means of genomic plasticity. The data presented in this project supplemented previous whole genome sequencing projects of E. coli and indicated that each E. coli genome displays a unique assemblage of individual mosaic structures, which enable these strains to successfully colonize and infect different anatomical sites.
  • Kukkaro, Petra (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Viruses of Archaea are the least studied group of viruses. Fewer than 50 archaeal viruses have been reported which constitutes less than one percent of all the isolated prokaryotic viruses. Only about one third of the isolated archaeal viruses infect halophiles. The diversity of haloviruses, virus ecology in highly saline environments and the interactions of haloviruses with their hosts have been little studied. The exiguous knowledge available on halophilic systems is not only due to inadequate sampling but also reflects the extra challenge highly saline systems set on biochemical studies. In this study six new haloviruses were isolated and characterized. Viruses included four archaeal viruses and two bacteriophages. All of the other isolates exhibited head-tail morphology, except SH1 which was the first tailless icosahedral virus isolated from a high salt environment. Production and purification procedures were set up for all of these viruses and they were subjected to stability determinations. Archaeal virus SH1 was studied in more detail. Biochemical studies revealed an internal membrane underneath the protein capsid and a linear dsDNA genome. The overall structure of SH1 resembles phages PRD1, PM2 and Bam35 as well as an archaeal virus STIV. SH1 possesses about 15 structural proteins that form complexes under non-reducing conditions. Quantitative dissociation provided information about the positions of these proteins in the virion. The life cycle of SH1 was also studied. This lytic virus infects Haloarcula hispanica. Adsorption to the host cells is fairly inefficient and the life cycle rather long. Finally, virus responses in a variety of ionic conditions were studied. It was discovered that all of the studied viruses from low salt, marine and high salt environments tolerated larger range of salinities than their bacterial or archaeal hosts. The adsorption efficiency was not determined by the natural environment of a virus. Even though viruses with the slowest binding kinetics were among the haloviruses, fast binders were observed in viruses from all environments. When the salinity was altered, the virus adsorption responses were diverse. Four different behavioral patterns were observed: virus binding increased or decreased in increasing salinity, adsorption maximum was at a particular salt concentration or the salinity did not affect the binding. The way the virus binding was affected did not correlate with the environment, virus morphology or the organism the virus infects.
  • Holappa, Katri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    Staphylococcus aureus is a commensal bacterium in humans and approximately 30% of healthy people carry it as part of their microbiome, in the nasal cavity and skin, without any harm. However, it is an opportunistic pathogen that causes severe infections in immunocompromised and hospitalized patients. Typical infections caused by S. aureus are wound and skin infections, pneumonia and urinary tract infections in people with a medical implanted device such as for example a catheter. S. aureus has gained resistance to virtually all antibiotics over the years of excessive antibiotic consumption, making treatment nearly impossible in some cases. MRSA, methicillin resistant S. aureus, is a worldwide problem in hospitals and the mortality rate is still rising. One of the most common MRSA lineages is USA300, a community-acquired MRSA, which is notorious not only for its antibiotic resistance but also for its ability to form prolific biofilms. Biofilm production combined with antibiotic resistance complicates treatment of S. aureus even further. A detailed understanding the molecular mechanisms of biofilm formation might bring us closer to a cure for infections caused by MRSA biofilms. The study comprised two parts. First, characterize the phenotype of the mutants under static and dynamic conditions, test the minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC’s) for antibiotics and verify the gene knockout by real-time RT-PCR. Second, study gene function by transduction to the parental strain USA300-UAS391 EryS and a MRSA strain TCH1516 EryS to study the gene function in a different bacterial background. The methods used were cell culturing for static and dynamic biofilm as well as growth curve, fluorescence microscopy, antibiotic susceptibility testing and real-time RT-PCR. In total seven strains were selected for characterization. The chosen seven knockouts were ΔHAD (HAD-superfamily hydrolase, subfamily IA, variant 1), non-coding region, ΔausA (non-ribosomal peptide synthetase), ΔoppA (Oligopeptide ABC transporter substrate-binding protein), ΔclfB (clumping factor B), ΔampA (cytosol aminopeptidase), and ΔpgsA (CDP-diacylglycerol--glycerol-3-phosphate 3-phosphatidyltransferase). General characterization showed a few changes in biofilm formation for the genes ΔoppA, ΔausA, ΔHAD and ΔpgsA. Especially ΔpgsA is interesting because of increased ciprofloxacin resistance. The real-time RT-PCR showed some altered gene expression patterns, but no connection to poor biofilm formation. With fluorescence microscopy the growth patterns of USA300 transposon mutant strain biofilms could be described. To verify the results of the characterization, further experimentation is needed, such as RNA sequencing and complementation. Also expanding the studies to other gene hits of the screening is recommended.
  • Alburkat, Hussein (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    LCMV Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus is a rodent-borne pathogen belongs to Arenaviridae family. Most of the studies have referred Mus musculus as the main reservoir of the LCMV. It has been detected in pet rodents, laboratory rodents, and wild mice. Humans be infected with LCMV through the ingestion or inhalation of sources contaminated with rodent feces, urine, or both. LCMV infection can be asymptomatic, present with mild symptoms, or it can cause aseptic meningoencephalitis (AME) and teratogenic effects in infants. However, clinical cases of LCMV infection have been rarely reported, and there is only fragmental knowledge on the presence and prevalence of LCMV infections around the world. Likewise, the genetic characteristics of the circulating LCMV strains and impact of LCMV on public health have remained poorly characterized. This study was performed in the Southern Iraq, due to the lack of comprehensive information about LCMV in this area. There were three main aims in this thesis. First, to assess the prevalence of LCMV among the healthy human population in the Nasiriyah region, southern Iraq. Second, to assess whether LCMV infections can be associated with neurological manifestations. Third, to characterize the genetic variation and evolutionary history of LCMV strains circulating in southern Iraq. Serum and CSF samples were collected from patients and healthy people in Nasiriyah governorate in the Southern Iraq. Serum samples were screened for LCMV using Immunofluorescence assay (IFA) to detect IgG and IgM antibodies. Real-time PCR was used to detect LCMV genome. In order to confirm the PCR positive samples, we sequenced these samples by Next-generation sequencing. The serological assay results showed 12.22% IgG prevalence of LCMV among healthy people and 7.36% IgG prevalence among patients with neurological symptoms. The IgM prevalence was 1.25% among the patients with acute infections. From symptomatic patients, we sequenced partial L-segments of two new LCMV strains. The phylogenetic tree constructed on the basis of all known LCMV strains suggested that these new LCMV strains from Iraq are genetically distant from the previously known LCMV strains and form a novel sub-cluster within LCMV species. This study is the first survey of LCMV in the Southern Iraq. LCMV appears to be a rather common infection in Iraq. I reported new strains of LCMV that are circulating in the study site and most likely is the causative agent of the central nervous system-associated clinical manifestations in these patients. For future work, I’m aiming the detection of other Arenaviruses spreading in the Southern Iraq.
  • Loginov, Raisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Viral infections caused by herpesviruses are common complications after organ transplantation and they are associated with substantial morbidity and even mortality. Herpesviruses remain in a latent state in a host after primary infection and may reactivate later. CMV infection is the most important viral infection after liver transplantation. Less is known about the significance of human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6). EBV is believed to play a major role in the development of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD). The aim of this study was to investigate the CMV-, EBV- and HHV-6 DNAemia after liver transplantation by frequent monitoring of adult liver transplant patients. The presence of CMV, EBV and HHV-6 DNA were demonstrated by in situ hybridization assays and by real-time PCR methods from peripheral blood specimens. CMV and HHV-6 antigens were demonstrated by antigenemia assays and compared to the viral DNAemia. The response to antiviral therapy was also investigated. CMV-DNAemia appeared earlier than CMV pp65-antigenemia after liver transplantation. CMV infections were treated with ganciclovir. However, most of the treated patients demonstrated persistence of CMV-DNA for up to several months. Continuous CMV-DNA expression of peripheral blood leukocytes showed that the virus is not eliminated by ganciclovir and recurrences can be expected during several months after liver transplantation. HHV-6 DNAemia / antigenemia was common and occurred usually within the first three months after liver transplantation together with CMV. The HHV-6 DNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells correlated well with HHV-6 antigenemia. Antiviral treatment significantly decreased the number of HHV-6 DNA positive cells, demonstrating the response to ganciclovir treatment. Clinically silent EBV reactivations with low viral loads were relatively common after liver transplantation. These EBV-DNAemias usually appeared within the first three months after liver transplantation together with betaherpesviruses (CMV, HHV-6, HHV-7). One patient developed high EBV viral loads and developed PTLD. These results indicate that frequent monitoring of EBV-DNA levels can be useful to detect liver transplant patients at risk of developing PTLD.
  • Virtanen, Kira (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    In addition to Chlamydiaceae, eight novel families have been discovered to belong to the phylum Chlamydiae. The eight families are Parachlamydiaceae, Waddliaceae, Criblamydiaceae, Parilichlamydiaceae, Rhabdochlamydiaceae, Simkaniaceae, Clavichlamydiaceae and Piscichlamydiaceae.These families are phylogenetic relatives to Chlamydiaceae, share the intracellular developmental cycle and are widely distributed in nature and are therefore referred to as environmental Chlamydiae or Chlamydia related bacteria (CRB). CRB have a broad range of potential hosts. All families except Criblamydiaceae cause disease in animals and infect for example fish, arthropods and cattle. Families Parachlamydiaceae, Waddliaceae, Rhabdochlamydiaceae and Simkaniaceae are also shown to cause respiratory disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes in human. Free-living amoebae (FLA) are natural hosts of some CRB. CRB are able to survive and replicate inside of FLA that offers protection and nutrients for CRB. It has been suggested that CRB are transported to new environments inside of FLA. CRB DNA has previously been found on human skin (Hokynar et al. 2016, Hokynar et al. 2018, Tolkki et al. 2018) and in our water distribution system. CRB distributed to our tap- and shower water systems inside of FLA (Thomas and Ashbolt 2011) could be a potential rout of transmission of CRB DNA to human skin. As the diversity and size of the CRB group is large and CRB are very laborious to grow in vitro, it is challenging to detect CRB and to study their pathogenicity. Detection of CRB in clinical and environmental samples is mainly based on PCR methods. A non species-specific PCR method targeting Chlamydiales 16S rRNA (PanChl16S), that in theory amplifies all known CRB, has successfully been used in detection, but post PCR sequencing of the amplicon is required to identify the species. Also, more specific quantitative PCRs have been designed to detect specific families or species of Chlamydiae. However, the volume of clinical specimens available is often limited and allows only few separate analyzes. Due to the challenges identified with detection of CRB, efficient multiplex PCR assays would save time and resources and would be useful tools when detecting CRB DNA. The objective of the work was to explore the possibility of applying multiplexed analyzes to a limited specimen volume effectively. One aim of this thesis was to set up two multiplex PCR assays for detection of seven different CRB and a multiplex PCR for detection of three different FLA. Another aim of the work was to analyze the possibility of CRB to be transported to human skin from our water distribution system inside of FLA. In this thesis we set up two multiplex PCR assays for detection of CRB reference strains P. acanthamoebae, C. sequanensis, S. negevensis, Protochlamydia spp., Rhabdochlamydia spp., W. chondrophila and E. lausannensis. We also set up two PCR assays for detection of three different FLA reference strains: Acanthamoeba spp., Vahlkampfiidae spp., and V. vermiformis. We succeeded in developing two real-time multiplex PCR assays for detection of CRB DNA and two real-time PCR assay for detection of FLA DNA. Variability between replicates for each PCR target was low and the detection limit (100%) for each target ranged from 50-500 control plasmid copies per PCR reaction. The R2-value for each target was ≥0.98 and the reaction efficiency for each target ranged from 82-111%. Samples collected from showerheads (n=18) and water filters (n=2) as well as skin swabs (n=27) were studied with these newly established assays and PanChl16S PCR. The results obtained with the multiplex assays developed in this study were similar to the results obtained with the PanChl16S. CRB DNA was detected in 67% of the showerhead samples, in 100% of the water filter samples and in 31% of the skin swabs. Amoebae DNA was detected in 80% of the showerhead samples. Our results confirm earlier observation that Chlamydiae DNA is frequently observed in human skin swabs and suggest that CRB could be transported to human skin from our water distribution system inside of FLA.
  • Ziedaite, Gabija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    The object of this study is a tailless internal membrane-containing bacteriophage PRD1. It has a dsDNA genome with covalently bound terminal proteins required for replication. The uniqueness of the structure makes this phage a desirable object of research. PRD1 has been studied for some 30 years during which time a lot of information has accumulated on its structure and life-cycle. The two least characterised steps of the PRD1 life-cycle, the genome packaging and virus release are investigated here. PRD1 shares the main principles of virion assembly (DNA packaging in particular) and host cell lysis with other dsDNA bacteriophages. However, this phage has some fascinating individual peculiarities, such as DNA packaging into a membrane vesicle inside the capsid, absence of apparent portal protein, holin inhibitor and procapsid expansion. In the course of this study we have identified the components of the DNA packaging vertex of the capsid, and determined the function of protein P6 in packaging. We managed to purify the procapsids for an in vitro packaging system, optimise the reaction and significantly increase its efficiency. We developed a new method to determine DNA translocation and were able to quantify the efficiency and the rate of packaging. A model for PRD1 DNA packaging was also proposed. Another part of this study covers the lysis of the host cell. As other dsDNA bacteriophages PRD1 has been proposed to utilise a two-component lysis system. The existence of this lysis system in PRD1 has been proven by experiments using recombinant proteins and the multi-step nature of the lysis process has been established.
  • Rintala, Eija (VTT Valtion teknillinen tutkimuskeskus, 2010)
    The availability of oxygen has a major effect on all organisms. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is able to adapt its metabolism for growth in different conditions of oxygen provision, and to grow even under complete lack of oxygen. Although the physiology of S. cerevisiae has mainly been studied under fully aerobic and anaerobic conditions, less is known of metabolism under oxygen-limited conditions and of the adaptation to changing conditions of oxygen provision. This study compared the physiology of S. cerevisiae in conditions of five levels of oxygen provision (0, 0.5, 1.0, 2.8 and 20.9% O2 in feed gas) by using measurements on metabolite, transcriptome and proteome levels. On the transcriptional level, the main differences were observed between the three level groups, 0, 0.5 2.8 and 20.9% O2 which led to fully fermentative, respiro-fermentative and fully respiratory modes of metabolism, respectively. However, proteome analysis suggested post-transcriptional regulation at the level of 0.5 O2. The analysis of metabolite and transcript levels of central carbon metabolism also suggested post-transcriptional regulation especially in glycolysis. Further, a global upregulation of genes related to respiratory pathways was observed in the oxygen-limited conditions and the same trend was seen in the proteome analysis and in the activities of enzymes of the TCA cycle. The responses of intracellular metabolites related to central carbon metabolism and transcriptional responses to change in oxygen availability were studied. As a response to sudden oxygen depletion, concentrations of the metabolites of central carbon metabolism responded faster than the corresponding levels of gene expression. In general, the genome-wide transcriptional responses to oxygen depletion were highly similar when two different initial conditions of oxygen provision (20.9 and 1.0% O2) were compared. The genes related to growth and cell proliferation were transiently downregulated whereas the genes related to protein degradation and phosphate uptake were transiently upregulated. In the cultures initially receiving 1.0% O2, a transient upregulation of genes related to fatty acid oxidation, peroxisomal biogenesis, response to oxidative stress and pentose phosphate pathway was observed. Additionally, this work analysed the effect of oxygen on transcription of genes belonging to the hexose transporter gene family. Although the specific glucose uptake rate was highest in fully anaerobic conditions, none of the hxt genes showed highest expression in anaerobic conditions. However, the expression of genes encoding the moderately low affinity transporters decreased with the decreasing oxygen level. Thus it was concluded that there is a relative increase in high affinity transport in anaerobic conditions supporting the high uptake rate.
  • Jokinen, Maija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Parvoviruses are among the smallest known viruses. The parvovirus genome is a single stranded DNA, approximately 5 kb in size. The virion has a small (20 to 30 nm), rugged, non-enveloped icosahedral capsid. Parvoviruses can cause a number of diseases. Possibly the most recognized human parvovirus is parvovirus B19 (B19V), which can cause the so-called fifth disease, anemias and fetal death. Another relatively well characterised parvovirus is human bocavirus 1 (HBoV1), which causes respiratory tract infections in young children. Bufavirus (BuV) tusavirus (TuV) and cutavirus (CuV) are emerging parvoviruses, discovered during the years 2012-2016 using next generation sequencing methods. All three viruses were originally discovered in feces of patients suffering from diarrhea. BuV was originally found in Burkina Faso and has since been detected in fecal samples with polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods from Europe, Asia and Africa. The seroprevalence of BuV differs between countries. TuV was found in a single stool sample from Tunisia, but no further reports of it have since emerged. CuV was found in 2016 and it has been linked to cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, but it is not known if the virus is the cause of the cancer or if the virus simply prefers quickly dividing cancer cells for its replication. BuV, TuV and CuV belong to the Protoparvovirus genus, but it is still unclear whether TuV is a human pathogen. More research is needed to study the epidemiology of these viruses and their role in illnesses. There were two main aims in this thesis: to set up an IgM µ-capture enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for human protoparvoviruses using BuV1 as an example and to screen three stool sample cohorts for BuV, TuV and CuV using an in-house multiplex quantitative PCR (qPCR). The IgM EIAs developed for B19V and HBoV1 was used as the base for developing human protoparvovirus IgM EIA, using Virus-like particles (VLP) as antigens. Setting up the EIA required a great amount of optimization and finally troubleshooting, since the assay did not work as expected. The troubleshooting revealed that the ambiguous results in the IgM µ-capture EIA were possibly due to degraded VLPs or that the sensitive µ-capture format requires extremely carefully purified VLPs. More optimizing is needed for this assay, however, the work done in this thesis offers a good base for further development of protoparvovirus IgM EIA. All three viruses were found in the stool samples during multiplex qPCR screening. Based on the qPCR and sequencing results one sample was positive for BuV DNA, one sample for TuV DNA and a total of 12 samples for CuV DNA. This is the first time TuV DNA has been found since its discovery. In addition to that, CuV DNA was identified in fecal samples for the first time since the discovery, previously CuV DNA had been found mostly in skin biopsies. As for TuV, based on the parvovirus phylogenetic analyses, its sequence is more closely related to rodent parvoviruses than CuV or BuV. More research is needed, possibly with animal and human samples, to establish the role of TuV as a human virus.
  • Lobo, Leandro (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Surface proteolysis is important in migration of cells through tissue barriers. In the case of prokaryotes, surface proteolysis has been associated with invasiveness of pathogenic bacteria from the primary infection site into circulation and secondary infection sites in the host. This study addressed surface proteases of two important bacterial pathogens, Yersinia pestis which is the causative agent of the lethal systemic zoonosis, plague, and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium which is an oral-faecal pathogen that annually causes millions of cases of gastoenteritis that may develop to septicaemia. Both bacterial species express an ortholog of the omptin family of transmembrane β-barrel, outer membrane proteases/adhesins. This thesis work addressed the functions of isolated plasminogen activator Pla of Y. pestis and the PgtE omptin of S. enterica. Pla and PgtE were isolated as His6-fusion proteins in denaturing conditions from recombinant Escherichia coli and activated by adding lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The structural features in LPS that enhance plasminogen activation by His6-Pla were determined, and it was found that the lack of O-specifi c chain, the presence of outer core oligosaccharide, the presence of phosphates in lipid A, as well as a low level of acylation in lipid A influence the enhancement of Pla activity by LPS. A conserved lipid A phosphate binding motif in Pla and PgtE was found important for the enhancement of enzymatic activity by LPS. The results help to explain the biological signifi cance of the genetic loss of the O-specifi c chain biosynthesis in Y. pestis as well as the variations in LPS structure upon entry of Y. pestis into the human host. Expression of Pla in Y. pestis is associated with adhesiveness to lamin of basement membranes. Here, isolated and LPS-activated His6-Pla was coated onto fluorescent microparticles. The coating conferred specifi c adhesiveness of the particles to laminin and reconstituted basement membrane, thus confi rming the intrinsic adhesive characteristics of the Pla protein. The adhesiveness is thought to direct plasmin proteolysis at tissue barriers, thus increasing tissue damage and bacterial spread. Gelatinase activity has not been previously reported in enteric bacteria. Expression of PgtE in S. enterica was associated with cleavage of porcine skin gelatin, denaturated human type I collagen, as well as DQ-gelatin. Purifi ed His6-PgtE also degraded porcine skin gelatin and human type I gelatin but did not react with DQ-gelatin, indicating that minor differences are seen in proteolysis by isolated and cell-bound PgtE. Pla was less effective in gelatin degradation. The novel gelatinase activity in S. enterica is likely to enhance bacterial dissemination during infection.
  • Ojalehto, Tuomas (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Proteins responsible for homologous recombination are collectively called recombinases. They also have an important role in maintaining genome integrity. Recombinases are found in all three kingdoms of life. The first identified and characterized recombinase was RecA from Escherichia coli. Recombinases exhibit ATP hydrolysis coupled DNA-binding activity and strand exchange activities during homologous recombination. Homologous recombination produces new genetic combinations for evolution and general way to describe the different steps of homologous recombination is a DSBR model. Homologous recombination occurs in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells during meiosis crossover and horizontal gene transfer, respectively. The homologous recombination machineries are remarkably complex and synergistic and much is not known about detailed mechanisms for a majority of the species. More recently, recombinases have been used in isothermal nucleic acid amplification methods, mainly in recombinase polymerase amplification RPA and strand invasion based amplification SIBA. The aim of this study was to identify, clone, produce and analyze the functionality of novel recombinases from bacteria and viruses. The acitivity for single-stranded DNA binding and strand exchange was studied. The compatibility of the produced recombinases in strand invasion based amplification SIBA method was evaluated. Two recombinases from Enterobacteria phages T2 and RB69 were found to be functional and compatible in three SIBA assays.
  • Ojala, Teija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Modern DNA sequencing technologies have opened up new possibilities to study bacteria. These methods have not only enabled the characterization of the genetic capacities of bacteria at previously unseen scale but have also provided a wealth of information about bacterial transcriptomes. In this thesis, sequencing and subsequent analysis approaches were applied to study Lactobacillus crispatus and Propionibacterium freudenreichii. Specifically, the aim was to uncover how these two Gram-positive species of human relevance can live in and interact with their environments. L. crispatus is a prominent member of the human vaginal flora and important for urogenital health. In this thesis, an annotated genome sequence was produced for L. crispatus ST1 and analyzed in conjunction with publicly available genome sequences of nine vaginal L. crispatus isolates. The common ortholog groups of the ten isolates captured approximately 57% of the ortholog groups of each isolate and provided a good estimation of the final set of core features of this central urogenital species. Notably, several of the detected L. crispatus core features were of putative relevance to vaginal health. Among these features was a previously characterized adhesin, which was in this thesis identified as a likely antagonist to the harmful vaginal bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis. Altogether, the study revealed a notable functional similarity between the L. crispatus strains and established the role of L. crispatus core proteins in maintaining vaginal health. P. freudenreichii, in turn, is an industrially important dairy culture. In this thesis, the cheese starter P. freudenreichii ssp. shermanii JS was subjected to transcriptome and genome sequencing to gain a deeper understanding of the role of this bacterium in industrial cheese ripening. The genome of strain JS encoded several enzymes and metabolic pathways involved in the formation of flavor compounds and was highly similar to those of the other P. freudenreichii strains. Transcriptome analysis of industrial cheese samples revealed nearly 15% of the 2,377 protein-coding genes of strain JS to be significantly differentially expressed between the warm and cold room ripening of cheese. Several of the flavor-associated genes exhibited higher expression levels in the warm compared to the cold room samples, corroborating the hypothesis that P. freudenreichii contributes more to the cheese flavor development during warm than cold room ripening. Automated function prediction of bacterial protein sequences greatly facilitated the genomics investigations of L. crispatus and P. freudenreichii in this thesis, providing functional descriptions for a majority of the predicted coding sequences of strains ST1 and JS. Moreover, re-annotation of the coding sequences of the nine publicly available vaginal L. crispatus isolates significantly increased the portion of the L. crispatus coding sequences with functional descriptions in the comparative genomics study of L. crispatus. The different methods varied in their prediction capabilities and were often complementary, supporting the use of more than one function prediction method in a bacterial genome project. Moreover, extremely strict thresholds in the homology searches were noted to unnecessarily restrict the pool of hits available for annotation transfer, hampering both the annotation quality and the fraction of coding sequences with a functional classification. Taken together, the utilized sequencing approaches coupled with suitable downstream analyses proved effective in deciphering the physiology of lactobacilli and propionibacteria and offered novel insights into the health-promoting properties of L. crispatus and flavor-forming capabilities of P. freudenreichii.
  • Markkanen, Melina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Constantly increasing level of bacteria becoming resistant to clinically relevant antibiotics challenges the modern medical achievements made over the past century. In global scale, one of the most significant information gaps concerning the occurrence of resistant bacteria is located in West African countries. Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli strains resistant to 3rd generation cephalosporins and carbapenems are a major risk to public health through infections with limited or no available treatment options. The resistance to these antibiotics among Enterobacteriaceae is mainly mediated by hydrolyzing enzymes such as extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL). The focus of this thesis is to study the genes encoding these enzymes and other resistance factors found in K. pneumoniae and E. coli isolated from human stool and waste water samples in Burkina Faso and Mali. Tree Enterobacteriaceae isolates were selected for whole genome sequence (WGS) analysis based on their phenotypic resistance profiles defined by disk diffusion method. Reads were assembled to draft genomes and the genomes were studied for their antibiotic resistance genes, virulence genes and their associations to mobile genetic elements found in these isolates’ genomes. Additionally a pan-genome was created to investigate species specific features of K. pneumoniae and their role in heavy load of antibiotic resistance genes among these isolates. Pan-genome consisted of two genomes sequenced in this study and 12 genomes from the publically available database. 16-month old Burkinabe child was a carrier of one ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae (isolate Burkina_1) and one ESBL-positive E. coli along with the resistance to multiple other antibiotics. With genome wide analysis the K. pneumoniae strain could be described as sequence type (ST) 45 representing, multidrug resistant and ESBL-gene CTX-M-15 carrying strain with highly similar virulence gene profile to strains previously described as pathogenic K. pneumoniae causing neonatal sepsis. K. pneumoniae isolated from the stool sample of an adult living in Burkina Faso was found to be multidrug resistant, though non-ESBL-producer strain (isolate Burkina_2). The isolate showed no similarity to any previously described sequence type. CTX-M-15 encoding E. coli of ST38 (isolate Mali_1) carried by Malian child showed resistance to five different classes of antibiotics in addition to the 3rd generation cephalosporins. At the same time the isolate showed hybrid virulence gene profile with virulence genes associated to many different E. coli pathotypes including neonatal meningitis causing E. coli (NMEC). The exceptional plasticity of K. pneumoniae genome could be recognized as one of the putative explanations for the high number of resistance genes found among the isolates studied in this work. Antibiotic resistance genes were found to be associated to mobile genetic elements (MGE) and as the genetic plasticity is caused by the acquisition of external genetic material via MGEs such as plasmids, this can lead to indirect accumulation of resistance genes in these genomes. The results in this thesis work show alarming examples of pathogens that potentially cause severe infections, have extremely narrow or no treatment options and are carried by infants. These findings are in line with the few data about the level of faecal carriage of ESBL-producing strains by people in Burkina Faso and Mali reported previously.
  • Raza, Shaffaq (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), a member of TGF-β super family is a soluble cytokine that is associated with different pathological conditions including cancer, cardiac and renal failure and obesity. Its high serum levels are linked with symptoms like cachexia/anorexia in cancer patients and can be used as a marker for these diseases. Its crucial role in weight regulation and energy homeostasis has been demonstrated by treating obese mice with GDF15, which results in weight lose along with improved glucose metabolism and increased insulin tolerance. It is now known that GDF15 exerts its metabolic effect by binding to a GDNF receptor -α-Like (GFRAL) receptor along with co-receptor RET. Interestingly, these two receptors co-localize only in the brain stem area of mice and humans indicating involvement of a neuronal circuit in GDF15 mediated effects. Despite its implications in major health disorders, little is known about the interaction of GDF15 with its receptors and how this interaction in turn modulates different cellular signalling and functions. The aim of the thesis was to study the mechanism and factors involved in endocytosis of GDF15. I employed high content imaging and flow cytometry techniques to visualize and analyse the internalization of ligand-receptor complex and investigate the role of actin, dynamin and phosphoinositide 3 kinase in the process. The results suggest that similar to the internalization of other cellular growth factors, the uptake of GDF15 is affected by disruption of the actin cytoskeleton. The role of dynamin is still unclear. I also discovered that the internalization of GDF15 was inefficient even in cells that expressed the receptor GFRAL, with large cell-to-cell variation. By following the intracellular localization of the receptor GFRAL, my results revealed that the receptor GFRAL is not efficiently exported to the plasma membrane and most of the protein is retained in the Golgi compartment of cells. This phenomenon was stronger in murine fibroblast cells, where the receptor was almost exclusively trapped in the secretory compartment, explaining why the uptake of the ligand GDF15 is so inefficient in these cells. The system developed during this project will now be used to analyse different factors involved in the uptake of GDF15 and eventually uncover the possible endocytic pathway. Moreover, the Golgi retention of the receptor opens up new questions to investigate like whether the physiological function of GDF15 is regulated by receptor export signals. This will help deciphering the complex and mysterious interaction of GDF15 with its receptor GFRAL.
  • Jääskeläinen, Anne (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Currently, there are nine known human herpesviruses and these viruses appear to have been a very common companion of humans throughout the millenia. Of human herpesviruses, herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 (HSV-1, HSV-2), causative agents of herpes labialis and genital herpes, and varicella-zoster virus (VZV), causative agent of chicken pox, are also common causes of central nervous system (CNS) infections. In addition, human cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human herpesviruses 6A, 6B, and 7 (HHV-6A, HHV-6B, HHV-7), all members of the herpesvirus family, can also be associated with encephalitis and meningitis. Accurate diagnostics and fast treatment are essential for patient recovery in CNS infections and therefore sensitive and effective diagnostic methods are needed. The aim of this thesis was to develop new potential detection methods for diagnosing of human herpesvirus infections, especially in immunocompetent patients, using the microarray technique. Therefore, methods based on microarrays were developed for simultaneous detection of HSV-1, HSV-2, VZV, CMV, EBV, HHV-6A, HHV-6B, and HHV-7 nucleic acids, and for HSV-1, HSV-2, VZV, and CMV antibodies from various clinical samples. The microarray methods developed showed potential for efficiently and accurately detecting human herpesvirus DNAs, especially in CNS infections, and for simultaneous detection of DNAs or antibodies for multiple different human herpesviruses from clinical samples. In fact, the microarray method revealed several previously unrecognized co-infections. The microarray methods developed were sensitive and provided rapid detection of human herpesvirus DNA, and therefore the method could be applied to routine diagnostics. The microarrays might also be considered as an economical tool for diagnosing human herpesvirus infections.