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  • Nyyssönen, Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Bioremediation, which is the exploitation of the intrinsic ability of environmental microbes to degrade and remove harmful compounds from nature, is considered to be an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective means for environmental clean-up. However, a comprehensive understanding of the biodegradation potential of microbial communities and their response to decontamination measures is required for the effective management of bioremediation processes. In this thesis, the potential to use hydrocarbon-degradative genes as indicators of aerobic hydrocarbon biodegradation was investigated. Small-scale functional gene macro- and microarrays targeting aliphatic, monoaromatic and low molecular weight polyaromatic hydrocarbon biodegradation were developed in order to simultaneously monitor the biodegradation of mixtures of hydrocarbons. The validity of the array analysis in monitoring hydrocarbon biodegradation was evaluated in microcosm studies and field-scale bioremediation processes by comparing the hybridization signal intensities to hydrocarbon mineralization, real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), dot blot hybridization and both chemical and microbiological monitoring data. The results obtained by real-time PCR, dot blot hybridization and gene array analysis were in good agreement with hydrocarbon biodegradation in laboratory-scale microcosms. Mineralization of several hydrocarbons could be monitored simultaneously using gene array analysis. In the field-scale bioremediation processes, the detection and enumeration of hydrocarbon-degradative genes provided important additional information for process optimization and design. In creosote-contaminated groundwater, gene array analysis demonstrated that the aerobic biodegradation potential that was present at the site, but restrained under the oxygen-limited conditions, could be successfully stimulated with aeration and nutrient infiltration. During ex situ bioremediation of diesel oil- and lubrication oil-contaminated soil, the functional gene array analysis revealed inefficient hydrocarbon biodegradation, caused by poor aeration during composting. The functional gene array specifically detected upper and lower biodegradation pathways required for complete mineralization of hydrocarbons. Bacteria representing 1 % of the microbial community could be detected without prior PCR amplification. Molecular biological monitoring methods based on functional genes provide powerful tools for the development of more efficient remediation processes. The parallel detection of several functional genes using functional gene array analysis is an especially promising tool for monitoring the biodegradation of mixtures of hydrocarbons.
  • Kvist, Jouni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The glanville fritillary butterfly is an important ecological model species for habitat fragmentation, whose genetics was poorly understood. In order to expand the research of this butterfly species into the realm of functional genomics a lot genetic tools were developed. These tools were used to investigate the genetic basis of phenotypic traits that are important in the wild. Gene expression microarrays based on de novo assembled transcriptome were used to study expression differences between adult butterflies from newly established colonies and older colonies as well as gene expression variation among larval families reared in three thermal regimens during final larval instar. Colonization and larval development are crucially important in maintaining the metapopulation structure of glanville fritillary butterfly in the Åland. We identified gene expression differences than can explain the observed variation in the phenotypes in the natural population. We sequenced the full genome of the glanville fritillary butterfly and used this to do additional gene expression and allelic variation analysis variation from multiple populations around the baltic sea using rna sequencing (rna-seq). Flight induced gene expression changes were analyzed using butterflies from Åland islands and the small isolated Pieni Tytärsaari ("daughter island") populations in a forced flight experiment. Fragmented populations (Åland islands and Uppland) were compared to continuous populations (saaremaa and öland) in order to find common signatures of selection caused by habitat fragmentation. Together these four full-genome studies have revealed that habitat fragmentation causes selection pressure on an intricately connected set of genes and pathways that leads to a so called life history syndrome , where the butterflies that colonize new habitat patches have a distinct set of traits and associated expression differences in these traits that make them more successful in establishing new colonies.
  • Rasila, Tiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Transposable DNA elements constitute a class of discrete genome segments, which use fundamentally similar reactions for their movement within and between genomes without the need for sequence homology to the target site. Transposons are ubiquitous and abundant residents scattered throughout the genomes of virtually all living organisms. The ability of transposons to integrate into various DNA sequences is utilized as tools in molecular biology. The similarity of the transposition reaction mechanisms is reflected by their enzymes, the transposases. Many DNA transposases share a conserved RNase H-like fold that contains a catalytic DDE motif. The bacteriophage Mu encodes MuA transposase, which is a well characterized member of the DDE transposases. Mu transposition proceeds within a nucleoprotein complex known as a transpososome, the minimal core of which contains four MuA molecules and two synapsed transposon ends. It forms the basis of Mu transposon tools that are widely used in genetics/genomics applications. The study reveals important structure-function relationships of MuA in the context of the transpososome. In addition, this study critically evaluates different random DNA mutagenesis methods and describes a universal assay to quantitatively analyse DNA transposition events. Initially, we characterized mutagenic properties of several most commonly used random mutagenesis methods and used them for MuA mutant library generation. Then, we established the quantitative transposition assay for mutant screening purposes. We analysed MuA structure-function relationships by scanning pentapeptide insertion library to dissect insertion tolerant against insertion intolerant regions in MuA structure. The comprehensive structure-function analysis was complemented with data from the sequence alignment of protein homologues. We identified potential sites for protein modifications. In addition, the different random MuA mutant libraries were screened for increased transposition frequency. We show that MuA mutant variants with enhanced activity could be generated. By the mapping of hyperactivity-inducing substitutions to the Mu transpososome structure, we could characterize the factors behind the activity enhancement. Furthermore, several MuA mutants were discovered to be valuable for Mu in vitro transposition applications. The results of this study provide a comprehensive structure-function map of MuA transposase. Moreover, the methods described in this study and the activity enhancing substitutions discovered in RNase H-like fold can be used for mechanistic analyses of other DDE transposases or used for the analyses of their close relatives such as HIV integrase and the RAG recombinase of the V(D)J recombination.
  • Saarinen, Pia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    The first event in vision is the absorption of a photon by a visual pigment molecule in a retinal photoreceptor cell. Activation of the molecule triggers a chemical amplification cascade, which finally leads to a change in the membrane potential of the cell. However, a visual pigment molecule may also be spontaneously activated by thermal energy. The resulting electrical response is identical to that caused by a photon. Such false light signals form a background noise limiting the detection of dim light. The absorption spectrum of a visual pigment (its ability to use different wavelengths of light) and its propensity for thermal activation both depend on the minimum amount of energy required for activation (the activation energy Ea). These properties of the pigment can be tuned on an evolutionary time scale by changes in the amino acid sequence of the protein part (the opsin) or on a physiological time scale by changing the light-sensitive cofactor bound to the opsin, the chromophore. The latter option is accessible only to poikilothermic vertebrates having two alternative chromophores (retinal A1 and A2). In this thesis, functional consequences of the A1-A2 exchange were investigated. In the first part, the relation between the changes of the absorption spectrum and the activation energy was quantitatively measured in several species of amphibians and fishes using both chromophores. The A2-induced shift of the absorption spectrum towards longer wavelengths was found always to correlate with a decrease in Ea. Later investigations have confirmed that decreasing Ea increases the rate of thermal activations. Thus the switch from A1 to A2 in the same opsin gives a more red-sensitive but noisier pigment. Against this background, the second part of the thesis investigates chromophore usage in eight populations of nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius) from different light environments. The amino acid sequence of the rods was found to be identical in all populations, implying that variations in spectral sensitivity depended only on the A1:A2 ratios. The cone absorption spectra also suggested that the variation within each cone class was due to varying chromophore proportions alone. The differences between populations could not be consistently explained as adaptations to the different light environments. However, an important and quite unexpected result was that the same individual could have quite different chromophore proportions in rods and cones (more A2 in cones). This shows that there are mechanisms by which chromophore proportions in different photoreceptors can be regulated much more selectively than previously thought. Since pigment noise is sensitivity-limiting mainly in dim light, it may be suggested that cones (working mainly in brighter light) can better afford using the noisy A2 chromophore to shift their spectral sensitivities for a better match to a long-wavelength photic environment.
  • Weber-Boyvat, Marion (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Sec1/Munc18 (SM) protein family members are evolutionary conserved proteins. They perform an essential, albeit poorly understood function in SNARE complex formation in membrane fusion. In addition to the SNARE complex components, only a few SM protein binding proteins are known. Typically, their binding modes to SM proteins and their contribution to the membrane fusion regulation is poorly characterised. We identified Mso1p as a novel Sec1p interacting partner. It was shown that Mso1p and Sec1p interact at sites of polarised secretion and that this localisation is dependent on the Rab GTPase Sec4p and its GEF Sec2p. Using targeted mutagenesis and N- and C-terminal deletants, it was discovered that the interaction between an N-terminal peptide of Mso1p and the putative Syntaxin N-peptide binding area in Sec1p domain 1 is important for membrane fusion regulation. The yeast Syntaxin homologues Sso1p and Sso2p lack the N-terminal peptide. Our results show that in addition to binding to the putative N-peptide binding area in Sec1p, Mso1p can interact with Sso1p and Sso2p. This result suggests that Mso1p can mimic the N-peptide binding to facilitate membrane fusion. In addition to Mso1p, a novel role in membrane fusion regulation was revealed for the Sec1p C-terminal tail, which is missing in its mammalian homologues. Deletion of the Sec1p-tail results in temperature sensitive growth and reduced sporulation. Using in vivo and in vitro experiments, it was shown that the Sec1p-tail mediates SNARE complex binding and assembly. These results propose a regulatory role for the Sec1p-tail in SNARE complex formation. Furthermore, two novel interaction partners for Mso1p, the Rab GTPase Sec4p and plasma membrane phospholipids, were identified. The Sec4p link was identified using Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation assays with Mso1p and the non-SNARE binding Sec1p(1-657). The assay revealed that Mso1p can target Sec1p(1-657) to sites of secretion. This effect is mediated via the Mso1p C-terminus, which previously has been genetically linked to Sec4p. These results and in vitro binding experiments suggest that Mso1p acts in cooperation with the GTP-bound form of Sec4p on vesicle-like structures prior to membrane fusion. Mso1p shares homology with the PIP2 binding domain of the mammalian Munc18 binding Mint proteins. It was shown both in vivo and in vitro that Mso1p is a phospholipid inserting protein and that this insertion is mediated by the conserved Mso1p amino terminus. In vivo, the Mso1p phospholipid binding is needed for sporulation and Mso1p-Sec1p localisation at the sites of secretion at the plasma membrane. The results reveal a novel layer of membrane fusion regulation in exocytosis and propose a coordinating role for Mso1p in connection with membrane lipids, Sec1p, Sec4p and SNARE complexes in this process.
  • Koskinen, Patrik (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    As more and more sequences are submitted to public databases, so will grow more computationally challenging sequence retrieval systems. When for example the UniProtKB/TrEMBL doubles in size annually, the tools used today might not be sufficient tomorrow. Faster and computationally lighter methods are needed for sequence retrieval. This study presents a computationally more efficient tool. The Suffix Array Neighbourhood Search (SANS) tool is a hundred fold faster than the most commonly used tool BLAST. The sequence databases do not only grow in size but also in the number of different functional annotations they contain. Recent studies have shown that a large number of these annotations are assigned incorrectly. When the error level of functional annotations in the databases grows to a statistically significant figure, better methods and the use of error detection statistics are highly recommended. In the present study we introduce novel methods for weighted statistical testing of functional annotations. Also novel methods for the calculation of information content value are presented. The information content value enables the discrimination of informative from uninformative annotations. A growing number of functional annotation tools are introduced annually. Since no gold standard evaluation sets exist, it is impossible to determine the reliability of the different methods. The Critical Assessment of Functional Annotations (CAFA) challenge is the first attempt to evaluate functional annotation tools by using blind testing on a large scale. The first CAFA challenge included the evaluation of 54 state-of-the-art methods in two different Gene Ontology categories. The results show that there is a plenty of room for improvement in the prediction accuracy of the existing tools.
  • 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.
  • Sen, Saurabh (Helsingin yliopisto, 2005)
  • Neuvonen, Maarit (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Alphaviruses are positive strand RNA viruses that replicate in association with cellular membranes. The viral RNA replication complex consists of four non-structural proteins nsP1-nsP4 which are essential for viral replication. The functions of nsP1, nsP2 and nsP4 are well established, but the roles of nsP3 are mainly unknown. In this work I have clarified some of the functions of nsP3 in order to better understand the importance of this protein in virus replication. Semliki Forest virus (SFV) has been mostly used as a model alphavirus during this work, but some experiments have also been conducted with Sindbis and Chikungunya viruses. NsP3 is composed of three different protein domains. The N-terminus of nsP3 contains an evolutionarily conserved macrodomain, the central part of nsP3 contains a domain that is only found in alphaviruses, and the C-terminus of the protein is hypervariable and predicted to be unstructured. In this work I have analyzed the functions of nsP3 macrodomain, and shown that viral macrodomains bind poly(ADP-ribose) and that they do not resemble cellular macrodomains in their properties. Furthermore, I have shown that some macrodomains, including viral macrodomains of SFV and hepatitis E virus, also bind poly(A). Mutations in the ligand binding pocket of SFV macrodomain hamper virus replication but do not confer lethality, indicating that macrodomain function is beneficial but not mandatory for virus replication. The hypervariable C-terminus of nsP3 is heavily phosphorylated and is enriched in proline residues. In this work it is shown that this region harbors an SH3 domain binding motif (Sh3BM) PxRxPR through which cellular amphiphysin is recruited to viral replication sites and to nsP3 containing cytoplasmic aggregate structures. The function of Sh3BM was destroyed by a single point mutation, which led to impaired viral RNA replication in HeLa cells, pointing out the functional importance of amphiphysin recruitment by the Sh3BM. In addition, evidence is provided tho show that the endosomal localization of alphavirus replication is mediated by nsP3 and that the phosphorylation of hypervariable region might be important for the endosomal targeting. Together these findings demonstrate that nsP3 contains multiple important host interaction motifs and domains, which facilitate successful viral propagation in host cells.
  • Kivi, Niina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are the causal agents of cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer among women worldwide. Cellular transformation and carcinogenesis depend on the activities of viral E5, E6 and E7 proteins. Alterations in cell-cell contacts and in communication between epithelial cells take place during cervical carcinogenesis, leading to changes in cell morphology, increased cell motility and finally invasion. The aim of this thesis was to study genome-wide effects of the HPV type 16 (HPV-16) E5 protein on the expression of host cell messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and microRNAs by applying microarray technology. The results showed that the HPV-16 E5 protein alters several cellular pathways involved in cellular adhesion, motility and proliferation as well as in the extracellular matrix. The E5 protein was observed to enhance wound healing of epithelial cell monolayers by increasing cell motility in vivo. HPV-16 E5-induced alterations in the expression of cellular microRNAs and their target genes seem to favour increased proliferation and tumorigenesis. E5 was also shown to affect the expression of adherens junction proteins in HaCaT epithelial keratinocytes. In addition, a study of a membrane cytoskeletal cross-linker protein, ezrin, revealed that when activated, it localizes to adherens junctions. The results suggest that ezrin distribution to forming adherens junctions is due to Rac1 activity in epithelial cells. These studies reveal for the first time the holistic effects of HPV-16 E5 protein in promoting precancerous events in epithelial cells. The results contribute to identifyinging novel markers for cervical precancerous stages and to predicting disease behaviour.
  • Viitanen, Tero (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Within central nervous system, the simple division of chemical synaptic transmission to depolarizing excitation mediated by glutamate and hyperpolarizing inhibition mediated by γ-amino butyric acid (GABA), is evidently an oversimplification. The GABAa receptor (GABAaR) mediated responses can be of opposite sign within a single resting cell, due to the compartmentalized distribution of cation chloride cotransporters (CCCs). The K+/Cl- cotransporter 2 (KCC2), member of the CCC family, promotes K+ fuelled Cl- extrusion and sets the reversal potential of GABA evoked anion currents typically slightly below the resting membrane potential. The interesting ionic plasticity property of GABAergic signalling emerges from the short-term and long-term alterations in the intraneuronal concentrations of GABAaR permeable anions (Cl- and HCO3-). The short-term effects arise rapidly (in the time scale of hundreds of milliseconds) and are due to the GABAaR activation dependent shifts in anion gradients, whereas the changes in expression, distribution and kinetic regulation of CCCs are underlying the long-term effects, which may take minutes or even hours to develop. In this Thesis, the differences in the reversal potential of GABAaR mediated responses between dopaminergic and GABAergic cell types, located in the substantia nigra, were shown to be attributable to the differences in the chloride extrusion mechanisms. The stronger inhibitory effect of GABA on GABAergic neurons was due to the cell type specific expression of KCC2 whereas the KCC2 was absent from dopaminergic neurons, leading to a less prominent inhibition brought by GABAaR activation. The levels of KCC2 protein exhibited activity dependent alterations in hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Intense neuronal activity, leading to a massive release of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in vivo, or applications of tyrosine receptor kinase B (TrkB) agonists BDNF or neurotrophin-4 in vitro, were shown to down-regulate KCC2 protein levels which led to a reduction in the efficacy of Cl- extrusion. The GABAergic transmission is interestingly involved in an increase of extracellular K+ concentration. A substantial increase in interstitial K+ tends to depolarize the cell membrane. The effects that varying ion gradients had on the generation of biphasic GABAaR mediated responses were addressed, with particular emphasis on the novel idea that the K+/Cl- extrusion via KCC2 is accelerated in response to a rapid accumulation of intracellular Cl-. The KCC2 inhibitor furosemide produced a large reduction in the GABAaR dependent extracellular K+ transients. Thus, paradoxically, both the inefficient KCC2 activity (via increased intracellular Cl-) and efficient KCC2 activity (via increased extracellular K+) may promote excitation.
  • Uusisaari, Marylka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2003)
  • Lindfors, Päivi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family ligands: GDNF, neurturin, persephin and artemin, signal through a receptor tyrosine kinase Ret by binding first to a co-receptor (GFRα1-4) that is attached to the plasma membrane. The GDNF family factors can support the survival of various peripheral and central neuronal populations and have important functions also outside the nervous system, especially in kidney development. Activating mutations in the RET gene cause tumours in neuroendocrine cells, whereas inactivating mutations in RET are found in patients with Hirschsprung s disease (HSCR) characterized by loss of ganglionic cells along the intestine. The aim of this study was to examine the in vivo functions of neurturin receptor GFRα2 and persephin receptor GFRα4 using knockout (KO) mice. Mice lacking GFRα2 grow poorly after weaning and have deficits in parasympathetic and enteric innervation. This study shows that impaired secretion of the salivary glands and exocrine pancreas contribute to growth retardation in GFRα2-KO mice. These mice have a reduced number of intrapancreatic neurons and decreased cholinergic innervation of the exocrine pancreas as well as reduced excitatory fibres in the myenteric plexus of the small intestine. This study also demonstrates that GFRα2-mediated Ret signalling is required for target innervation and maintenance of soma size of sympathetic cholinergic neurons and sensory nociceptive IB4-binding neurons. Furthermore, lack of GFRα2 in mice results in deficient perception of temperatures above and below thermoneutrality and in attenuated inflammatory pain response. GFRα4 is co-expressed with Ret predominantly in calcitonin-producing thyroid C-cells in the mouse. In this study GFRα4-deficient mice were generated. The mice show no gross developmental deficits and have a normal number of C-cells. However, young but not adult mice lacking GFRα4 have a lower production of calcitonin in thyroid tissue and consequently, an increased bone formation rate. Thus, GFRα4/Ret signalling may regulate calcitonin production. In conclusion, this study reveals that GFRα2/Ret signalling is crucial for the development and function of specific components of the peripheral nervous system and that GFRα4-mediated Ret signalling is required for controlling transmitter synthesis in thyroid C-cells.
  • Bespalov, Maxim (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Neurotrophic factors play essential role in the development and functioning of the nervous system and other organs. Glial cell line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) family ligands (GFLs) are of particular interest because they promote the survival of dopaminergic neurons in vitro, in Parkinson s disease animal models and in patients. GDNF is also a potent survival factor for the central motoneurons and thus is considered as a potential lead for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The survival promoting receptor complex for GFLs consists of a ligand-specific co-receptor, GFRα and a signal transducing module, receptor tyrosine kinase RET. At least GDNF and persephin, a GFL, have established functions outside central nervous system. GDNF is crucial for enteric nervous system and kidney development as well as for spermatogenesis. Persephin controls calcitonin secretion. Communication between cells often occurs in the extracellular matrix (ECM), a meshwork, which is secreted and deposited by the cells and is mainly composed of fibrillar proteins and polymerized sugars. We evaluated the relationship between GFLs and extracellular matrix components and demonstrated that three GFLs - GDNF, neurturin and artemin bind heparan sulfates with nanomolar affinities. The fourth member of the family - persephin binds these polysaccharides thousand times less tightly. GDNF, neurturin and artemin also bind with high affinity to heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) isolated from the nervous system, syndecan-3. GDNF signals through HSPGs, evoking Src family kinase activation. This signaling induces cell spreading, hippocampal neurite outgrowth in vitro and cellular migration. Specifically, GDNF signaling through syndecan-3 is important for embryonic cortical neuron migration. Syndecan-3-deficient mice, similarly to mice lacking GDNF, have less GABAergic neurons in their cortex, as compared to the wild-type mice. This fact provides indirect evidence that GDNF interaction with syndecan-3 is important for cortical brain development. Noteworthy, in non-neuronal tissues GFLs may signal via other syndecans. We also present the structural model for a GDNF co-receptor, GFRα1. The X-ray structure of the GFRα1 domain 3 was solved with 1.8 Å resolution, revealing a new protein fold. Later we also solved the structure of the truncated GFRα1 in the complex with GDNF and this model was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis. In summary, our work contributed to the structural characterization of GFRα-based receptor complex and revealed a new receptor for GDNF, neurturin and artemin the HSPG syndecan-3. This information is critically important for the development of GFRα/RET agonists for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Niittymäki, Jaana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    GDP-L-fucose: synthesis and role in inflammation The migration of leukocytes from intravascular locations to extravascular sites is essential to the immune responses. The initial attachment of leukocytes to the endothelium and the rolling step of the leukocyte extravasation cascade are mediated by selectins, a family of cell adhesion molecules on cell surfaces. Selectins are able to recognize glycoproteins and glycolipids containing the tetrasaccharide sialyl Lewis x (sLex, Neu5Acα2-3Galβ1-4(Fucα1-3)GlcNAc). Several glycosyltransferases are involved in the biosynthesis of sLex, fucosyltransferase VII (Fuc-TVII) being the last enzyme to modify the sLex structure. Fuc-TVII transfers L-fucose from GDP-L-fucose to sialylated N-acetyllactosamine. GDP-L-fucose is synthesized in the cytosol via two different metabolic pathways. The major, constitutively active de novo pathway involves conversion of GDP-α-D-mannose to GDP-β-L-fucose. In the alternative salvage pathway, L-fucokinase synthesizes from free fucose L-fucose-1-phosphate, which is further converted to GDP-L-fucose by GDP-L-fucose pyrophosphorylase. GDP-L-fucose is translocated from the cytosol to Golgi for fucosylation via the GDP-fucose transporter. This thesis involved the study of the synthesis of GDP-L-fucose via the salvage pathway: cloning and expression of murine L-fucokinase and GDP-L-fucose pyrophosphorylase. The gene expression levels of these enzymes were found to be relatively high in various tissues; the mRNA levels were highest in brain, ovary and testis. This study also describes molecular cloning of rat fucosyltransferase VII (FUT7) and its expression as a functional enzyme. Gene expression levels of GDP-L-fucose synthesizing enzymes, GDP-fucose transporter and FUT7 were determined in inflamed tissues as well as cancer cells. Our results revealed a clear upregulation of the enzymes involved in the synthesis of GDP-L-fucose via de novo pathway, GDP-fucose transporter and FUT7 in inflamed tissues and in cancer cells. On the contrary, the GDP-L-fucose salvage pathway was found to be irrelevant in inflammation and in tumorigenesis. Furthermore, our results indicated the transcriptional coregulation of Golgi transporters involved in the synthesis of sulfo sLex, i.e. CMP-sialic acid, GDP-fucose and 3 phosphoadenosine 5 -phosphosulfate transporters, in inflammation.
  • Björklund, Mikael (Helsingin yliopisto, 2004)