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  • Pyöli, Jouko (1975)
  • Vuorela, Marja-Liisa (1980)
  • Sarvamaa, Pirkko (1973)
  • Laurila, Jussi (2013)
    The aim of this thesis was to improve the quality of energy wood and therefore increase the potential of forest energy. About half of the mass of a freshly-felled tree consists of water. From the point of view of energy generation this water is unwelcome. There are two main ways to dry energy wood; these are artificial drying and drying naturally. The Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.) stump wood dries fairly quickly in favourable natural conditions. The average moisture content (wet basis) of a stump was about 31 % one month after stump harvesting. Small-sized whole trees did not dry well at roadside storage sites under natural conditions. About one year after harvesting the moisture content of a small-sized whole tree was still about 43 %. However, during storing a remarkable weight loss of 37 % was detected between the forest and the heating plant. The most effective and the fastest drying method found in this study was the continuous compression drying method. The lowest moisture content of 30 % was achieved for Downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) by continuous pressing using 38 MPa and with a pressing time of 30 seconds. The energy consumption for compression drying is very low compared to the energy required to vaporise water in thermal drying. The techno-economic forest energy potential of the study area was 1.6 TWh/y. The forest energy potential calculations were made using the heating value of fresh wood and therefore the real potential will be greater when using dried energy wood. For absolutely dry wood the potential was about 1.9 TWh/y. The properties of energy wood vary widely depending on its assortment, storage conditions, as well as the weather conditions and the origin of the energy wood. However, a better understanding of energy wood properties will increase forest energy s potential and the use of renewable energy and thus help mitigate climate change globally.
  • Turunen, Rigina (1997)
  • Nymark, Penny (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Background: Asbestos is a well known cancer-causing mineral fibre, which has a synergistic effect on lung cancer risk in combination with tobacco smoking. Several in vitro and in vivo experiments have demonstrated that asbestos can evoke chromosomal damage and cause alterations as well as gene expression changes. Lung tumours, in general, have very complex karyotypes with several recurrently gained and lost chromosomal regions and this has made it difficult to identify specific molecular changes related primarily to asbestos exposure. The main aim of these studies has been to characterize asbestos-related lung cancer at a molecular level. Methods: Samples from asbestos-exposed and non-exposed lung cancer patients were studied using array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) to detect copy number alterations (CNA) as well as microsatellite analysis to detect allelic imbalance (AI). In addition, asbestos-exposed cell lines were studied using gene expression microarrays. Results: Eighteen chromosomal regions showing differential copy number in the lung tumours of asbestos-exposed patients compared to those of non-exposed patients were identified. The most significant differences were detected at 2p21-p16.3, 5q35.3, 9q33.3-q34.11, 9q34.13-q34.3, 11p15.5, 14q11.2 and 19p13.1-p13.3 (p<0.005). The alterations at 2p and 9q were validated and characterized in detail using AI and FISH analysis in a larger study population. Furthermore, in vitro studies were performed to examine the early gene expression changes induced by asbestos in three different lung cell lines. The results revealed specific asbestos-associated gene expression profiles and biological processes as well as chromosomal regions enriched with genes believed to contribute to the common asbestos-related responses in the cell lines. Interestingly, the most significant region enriched with asbestos-response genes was identified at 2p22, close to the previously identified region showing asbestos-related CNA in lung tumours. Additionally, in this thesis, the dysregulated biological processes (Gene Ontology terms) detected in the cell line experiment were compared to dysregulated processes identified in patient samples in a later study (Ruosaari et al., 2008a). Commonly affected processes such as those related to protein ubiquitination, ion transport and surprisingly sensory perception of smell were identified. Conclusions: The identification of specific CNA and dysregulated biological processes shed some light on the underlying genes acting as mediators in asbestos-related lung carcinogenesis. It is postulated that the combination of several asbestos-specific molecular alterations could be used to develop a diagnostic method for the identification of asbestos-related lung cancer.
  • Hienonen, Tuija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2005)
  • Hristozova, Nevena (2012)
    The white rot fungus Heterobasidion annosum s.l. is a basidiomycete which is considered to be the most economical important pathogen of conifer trees (Pinus, Picea and Abies) in the northern hemisphere. Presently, the knowledge on the biology and molecular aspects of the Heterobasidion pathosystem is still poor and this is the major set-back in preventing the spread of the pathogen. A deeper investigation at the molecular level of the pathogenicity factors involved during the infection process is very important to better control the disease. Intra-cellular signal-transduction pathways, and in particular the Mitogen Activated Protein Kinases (MAPKs), have been shown to play key roles in the infection cycle in many fungal pathogens, being pivotal in survival, appressorial formation, sporulation and response to various biotic and abiotic stresses. The aim of this study is to characterize a specific H. annosum MAPK, with high sequence homology to FUS3 gene (involved in mating) in S. cerevisiae and with PMK1 gene (involved in appressoria formation) in Magnaporthe grisea. In order to study the function of this MAPK in H. annosum, we performed a complementation experiment in the S. cerevisiae fus3􀂨 mutant. Expression level profiles, proteomics and immunology studies were used to distinguish between phosphorylated/active and non-phosphorylated/inactive form of the MAPK. Some valuable insights on this kinase cascade in Heterobasidion were discovered, but further studies are required to fully understand its role in the lifecycle of this fungus.
  • Luiro, Kaisu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Neurodegenerative disorders are chronic, progressive, and often fatal disorders of the nervous system caused by dysfunction, and ultimately, death of neuronal cells. The underlying mechanisms of neurodegeneration are poorly understood, and monogenic disorders can be utilised as disease models to elucidate the pathogenesis. Juvenile neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis (JNCL, Batten disease) is a recessively inherited lysosomal storage disorder with progressive neurodegeneration and accumulation of autofluorescent storage material in most tissues. It is caused by mutations in the CLN3 gene; however, the exact function of the corresponding CLN3 protein, as well as the molecular mechanisms of JNCL pathogenesis have remained elusive. JNCL disease exclusively affects the central nervous system leaving other organs unaffected, and therefore it is of a particular importance to conduct studies in brain tissue and neuronal cells. The aim of this thesis project was to elucidate the molecular and cell biological mechanisms underlying JNCL. This was the first study to describe the endogenous Cln3 protein, and it was shown that Cln3 localised to neuronal cells in the mouse brain. At a subcellular level, endogenous Cln3 was localised to the presynaptic terminals and to the synaptosome compartment, but not to the synaptic vesicles. Studies with the CLN3-deficient cells demonstrated an impaired endocytic membrane trafficking, and established an interconnection between CLN3, microtubulus-binding Hook1 and Rab proteins. This novel data was not only important in characterising the roles of CLN3 in cells, but also provided significant information delineating the versatile role of the Rab proteins. To identify affected cellular pathways in JNCL, global gene expression profiling of the knock-out mouse Cln3-/- neurons was performed and systematically analysed; this revealed a slight dysfunction of the mitochondria, cytoskeletal abnormality in the microtubule plus-end, and an impaired recovery from depolarizing stimulus when specific N-type Ca2+ channels were inhibited, thus leading to a prolonged time of higher intracellular calcium. All these defective pathways are interrelated, and may together be sufficient to initiate the neurodegenerative process. Results of this thesis also suggest that in neuronal cells, CLN3 most likely functions at endocytic vesicles at the presynaptic terminal, potentially involved in the regulation of the calcium-mediated synaptic transmission.
  • Heliövaara, Elina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Pituitary adenomas are common benign neoplasms. Although most of them are sporadic, a minority occurs in familial settings. Heterozygous germline mutations in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor interacting protein (AIP) gene were found to underlie familial pituitary adenomas, a condition designated as pituitary adenoma predisposition (PAP). PAP confers incomplete penetrance of mostly growth hormone (GH) secreting adenomas in young patients, who often lack a family history of pituitary adenomas. This thesis work aimed to clarify the molecular and clinical characteristics of PAP. Applying the multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification assay (MLPA), we found large genomic AIP deletions to account for a subset of PAP. Therefore, MLPA could be considered in PAP suspected patients with no AIP mutations found with conventional sequencing. We generated an Aip mouse model to examine pituitary tumorigenesis in vivo. The heterozygous Aip mutation conferred complete penetrance of pituitary adenomas that were mostly GH-secreting, rendering the phenotype of the Aip mouse similar to that of PAP patients. We suggest that AIP may function as a candidate gatekeeper gene in somatotrophs. To clarify molecular mechanisms of tumorigenesis, we elucidated the expression of AIP-related molecules in human and mouse pituitary tumors. The expression of aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT) was reduced in mouse Aip-deficient adenomas, and similar ARNT reduction was also evident in human AIP mutation positive adenomas. This suggests that in addition to participating in the hypoxia pathway, estrogen receptor signaling and xenobiotic response pathways, ARNT may play a role in AIP-related tumorigenesis. We also studied the characteristics and the response to therapy of PAP patients and found them to have an aggressive disease phenotype with young age at onset. Therefore, improvement in treatment outcomes of PAP patients would require their efficient identification and earlier diagnosis of the pituitary adenomas. The possible role of the RET proto-oncogene in tumorigenesis of familial AIP mutation negative pituitary adenomas was evaluated, but none of the found RET germline variants were considered pathogenic. Surprisingly, RET immunohistochemistry suggested possible underexpression of RET in AIP mutation positive pituitary adenomas an observation that merits further investigation.
  • Lehtonen, Heli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer (HLRCC) is a rare, dominantly inherited tumor predisposition syndrome characterized by benign cutaneous and uterine (ULM) leiomyomas, and sometimes renal cell cancer (RCC). A few cases of uterine leiomyosarcoma (ULMS) have also been reported. Mutations in a nuclear gene encoding fumarate hydratase (FH), an enzyme of the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle), underlie HLRCC. As a recessive condition, germline mutations in FH predispose to a neurological defect, FH deficiency (FHD). Hereditary paragangliomatosis (HPGL) is a dominant disorder associated with paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas. Inherited mutations in three genes encoding subunits of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH), also a TCA cycle enzyme, predispose to HPGL. Both FH and SDH seem to act as tumor suppressors. One of the consequences of the TCA cycle defect is abnormal activation of HIF1 pathway ( pseudohypoxia ) in the HLRCC and HPGL tumors. HIF1 drives transcription of genes encoding e.g. angiogenetic factors which can facilitate tumor growth. Recently hypoxia/HIF1 has been suggested to be one of the causes of genetic instability as well. One of the aims of this study was to broaden the clinical definers of HLRCC. To determine the cancer risk and to identify possible novel tumor types associated with FH mutations eight Finnish HLRCC/FHD families were extensively evaluated. The extension of the pedigrees and the Finnish Cancer Registry based tumor search yielded genealogical and cancer data of altogether 868 individuals. The standardized incidence ratio-based comparison of HLRCC/FHD family members with general Finnish population revealed 6.5-fold risk for RCC. Moreover, risk for ULMS was highly increased. However, according to the recent and more stringent diagnosis criteria of ULMS many of the HLRCC uterine tumors previously considered malignant are at present diagnosed as atypical or proliferative ULMs (with a low risk of recurrence). Thus, the formation of ULMS (as presently defined) in HLRCC appears to be uncommon. Though increased incidence was not observed, interestingly the genetic analyses suggested possible association of breast and bladder cancer with loss of FH. Moreover, cancer cases were exceptionally detected in an FHD family. Another clinical finding was the conventional (clear cell) type RCC of a young Spanish HLRCC patient. Conventional RCC is distinct from the types previously observed in this syndrome but according to these results, FH mutation may underlie some of young conventional cancer cases. Secondly, the molecular pathway from defective TCA cycle to tumor formation was intended to clarify. Since HLRCC and HPGL tumors display abnormally activated HIF1, the hypothesis on the link between HIF1/hypoxia and genetic instability was of interest to study in HLRCC and HPGL tumor material. HIF1α (a subunit of HIF1) stabilization was confirmed in the majority of the specimens. However, no repression of MSH2, a protein of DNA mismatch repair system, or microsatellite instability (MSI), an indicator of genetic instability, was observed. Accordingly, increased instability seems not to play a role in the tumorigenesis of pseudohypoxic TCA cycle-deficient tumors. Additionally, to study the putative alternative functions of FH, a recently identified alternative FH transcript (FHv) was characterized. FHv was found to contain instead of exon 1, an alternative exon 1b. Differential subcellular distribution, lack of FH enzyme activity, low mRNA expression compared to FH, and induction by cellular stress suggest FHv to have a role distinct from FH, for example in apoptosis or survival. However, the physiological significance of FHv requires further elucidation.
  • Tapper, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2001)
  • Siljander, Tuula (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) is an important human pathogen, causing a wide array of infections ranging in severity. The majority of S. pyogenes infections are mild upper respiratory tract or skin infections. Severe, invasive infections, such as bacteraemia, are relatively rare, but constitute a major global burden with a high mortality. Certain streptococcal types are associated with a more severe disease and higher mortality. Bacterial, non-necrotizing cellulitis and erysipelas are localised infections of the skin, and although they are usually not life-threatening, they have a tendency to recur and therefore cause substantial morbidity. Despite several efforts aimed at developing an effective and safe vaccine against S. pyogenes infections, no vaccine is yet available. In this study, the epidemiology of invasive S. pyogenes infections in Finland was described over a decade of national, population-based surveillance. Recent trends in incidence, outcome and bacterial types were investigated. The beta-haemolytic streptococci causing cellulitis and erysipelas infections in Finland were studied in a case-control study. Bacterial isolates were characterised using both conventional and molecular typing methods, such as the emm typing, which is the most widely used typing method for beta-haemolytic streptococci. The incidence of invasive S. pyogenes disease has had an increasing trend during the past ten years in Finland, especially from 2006 onwards. Age- and sex-specific differences in the incidence rate were identified, with men having a higher incidence than women, especially among persons aged 45-64 years. In contrast, more infections occurred in women aged 25-34 years than men. Seasonal patterns with occasional peaks during the midsummer and midwinter were observed. Differences in the predisposing factors and underlying conditions of patients may contribute to these distinctions. Case fatality associated with invasive S. pyogenes infections peaked in 2005 (12%) but remained at a reasonably low level (8% overall during 2004-2007) compared to that of other developed countries (mostly exceeding 10%). Changes in the prevalent emm types were associated with the observed increases in incidence and case fatality. In the case-control study, acute bacterial non-necrotizing cellulitis was caused predominantly by Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis, instead of S. pyogenes. The recurrent nature of cellulitis became evident. This study adds to our understanding of S. pyogenes infections in Finland and provides a basis for comparison to other countries and future trends. emm type surveillance and outcome analyses remain important for detecting such changes in type distribution that might lead to increases in incidence and case fatality. Bacterial characterisation serves as a basis for disease pathogenesis studies and vaccine development.