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  • Ekholm, Jenny (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
  • Tallila, Jonna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Meckel syndrome (MKS, MIM 249000) is a severe developmental disorder that leads to death already in utero or shortly after birth. MKS diagnosis can be established by a careful ultrasound examination already at 11-14 weeks of gestation. The main features of MKS are occipital meningoencephalocele, cystic kidney dysplasia and fibrotic changes of the liver. In addition, polydactyly is frequently reported in the cases. The aim of the study was to characterize the molecular and functional defects in MKS. In this study we were able to identify two major MKS mutations in Finnish population, which cover over 90% of the cases. The first mutation is a 29 bp intronic deletion in the MKS1 gene (c.1483-7_35del) that is found in 70% of the families and the second is a C>T substitution in the coding region of CC2D2A (c.1762C>T), that is found in 20% of the MKS families. Both of these mutations result in abnormal splicing. The discovery of the disease genes has revealed that MKS is caused by primary cilia dysfunction. MKS1 gene has a conserved B9 domain, and it is found in the predicted ciliary proteome. CC2D2A protein is also found in the predicted ciliary proteome and it has a Ca2+ binding domain. The number of genes behind MKS has increased rapidly in the past years and to date, mutations have been identified in five genes (MKS1, TMEM67/MKS3, CEP290/MKS4, RPGRIP1L/MKS5 and CC2D2A/MKS6). Identification of the disease genes mutations has also revealed that MKS is an allelic disorder with other syndromes with overlapping phenotypes. Disorders that are caused by primary cilia dysfunction are collectively known as ciliopathies. Sequence analysis of all the known MKS genes in Finnish and non-Finnish families available to us, where the mutation was still unknown, revealed mutations in 14 out of the 30 families included in the study. When we collected all the reported mutations in MKS genes in different syndromes we could see that there was clearly a genotype-syndrome correlation between the mutations and the syndromes, since the same pair of mutations has never been reported in different syndromes. The basic molecular events behind MKS will not only give us information of this syndrome, but also significant novel information on early fetal development in general.
  • Siitonen, Annika (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    RAPADILINO syndrome is an autosomally resessively inherited condition that belongs to a group of rare syndromes more common in Finland than in other parts of the world. RAPADILINO is characterized by pre- and postnatal growth retardation, radial ray defects, diarrhoea of unknown aetiology during chilhood, a facial resemblance with other patients and normal intelligence. In Finland, 15 patients with this condition have been found which compares with only five patients in other parts of the world. We found RECQL4 gene mutations in RAPADILINO patients and proved this syndrome to be allelic with a subgroup of Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (RTS). Later we found RECQL4 mutations in patients with Baller-Gerold syndrome (BGS). These three syndromes share clinical findings and differential diagnostics rely on poikiloderma and craniosynostosis not seen in RAPADILINO syndrome. We found five different mutations in the Finnish RAPADILINO patients. The g.2545delT mutation is the founder mutation in the Finnish population as all the patients are either homozygotes or compound heterozygotes for it. This mutation leads to the inframe skipping of exon seven from mRNA. The protein encoded by this mutant mRNA lacks the nuclear retention signal and thus leads to the mislocalization of the mutant protein. The genotype-phenotype correlation is not straightforward but it seems that RAPADILINO could be due to alteration in protein function and truncating mutations in both alleles are more common among RTS patients. RTS patients with RECQL4 mutations have an elevated risk for osteosarcoma, but their risk to develop other types of malignancies is not increased.Two Finnish RAPADILINO patients have been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, but in addition to this we have found an excess of lymphoma cases among the Finnish RAPADILINO patients. This difference between cancer types could be due to different mutations found in these syndromes. The mutation screening of the patients will help to differentiate patients who have RECQL4 mutations and thus the elevated cancer risk. Patients will benefit from the follow up since early detection of malignancies is important for the treatment.
  • Nieminen, Pekka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Congenital missing of teeth, tooth agenesis or hypodontia, is one of the most common developmental anomalies in man. The common forms in which one or a few teeth are absent, may cause occlusal or cosmetic harm, while severe forms which are relatively rare always require clinical attention to support and maintain the dental function. Observation of tooth agenesis is also important for diagnosis of malformation syndromes. Some external factors may cause developmental defects and agenesis in dentition. However, the role of inheritance in the etiology of tooth agenesis is well established by twin and family studies. Studies on familial tooth agenesis as well as mouse null mutants have also identified several genetic factors. However, these explain syndromic or rare dominant forms of tooth agenesis, whereas the genes and defects responsible for the majority of cases of tooth agenesis, especially the common and less severe forms, are largely unknown. In this study it was shown, that a dominant nonsense mutation in PAX9 was responsible for severe tooth agenesis (oligodontia) in a Finnish family. In a study of tooth agenesis associated with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, it was shown that severe tooth agenesis was present if the causative deletion in 4p spanned the MSX1 locus. It was concluded that severe tooth agenesis was caused by haploinsufficiency of these transcription factors. A summary of the phenotypes associated with known defects in MSX1 and PAX9 showed that, despite similarities, they were significantly different, suggesting that the genes, in addition to known interactions, also have independent roles during the development of human dentition. The original aim of this work was to identify gene defects that underlie the common incisor and premolar hypodontia. After excluding several candidate genes, a genome-wide search was conducted in seven Finnish families in which this phenotype was inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. A promising locus for second premolar agenesis was identified in chromosome 18 in one family and this finding was supported by results from other families. The results also implied the existence of other loci both for second premolar agenesis and for incisor agenesis. On the other hand the results did not lend support for comprehensive involvement of the most obvious candidate genes in the etiology of incisor and premolar hypodontia. Rather, they suggest remarkable genetic heterogeneity of tooth agenesis. The available evidence suggests that quantitative defects during tooth development predispose to a failure to overcome a developmental threshold and to agenesis. The results of the study increase the understanding of the etiology and heredity of tooth agenesis. Further studies may lead to identification of novel genes that affect the development of teeth.
  • Lagus, Markus (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    BACKGROUND Sleep disturbances and mood alterations are highly interrelated. The majority of patients suffering from depression report a reduced sleep quality. Inversely, people with sleep complaints are at elevated risk to develop depression. The complex regulation of these phenomena involves several brain areas and mechanisms. The susceptibility to change in this system is influenced by several factors, such as age and stressful lifestyle that are considered in this study. HYPOTHESIS The hypothesis of this study was that sleep and mood share common genetic/molecular regulatory networks and that both are also regulated by epigenetic mechanisms and neural plasticity. METHODS The studies were conducted both on humans and using an animal model for depression. In the animal model we measured the genome wide expression of genes in different brain areas of clomipramine-treated pups and adults. Using these data we conducted both individual area and inter-area network analyses of basal forebrain, frontal cortex, hypothalamus and hippocampus. We also measured the amount of BDNF, one of the plasticity-related factors, in sleep restriction and under aging. In the human study we conducted epigenetic analysis of the serotonin transporter gene and related the epigenetic changes to stress in a stressful working environment. RESULTS In the models investigated changes were observed on the system, protein, transcript and transcriptional regulatory levels. Inter-tissue pathways related to synaptic transmission, regulation of translation and ubiquitinylation were disrupted. The involved pathways are within the cellular components of the axons, growth cones, melanosomes and pigment granules. The disturbed networks are centred around serotonin, Mn(II) and Rhoa. In the basal forebrain the imbalance in gene expression is widely controlled by CREB1. Some of the changes seem to be epigenetically induced by sleep deprivation and stress. Individuals working in a high stress environment have significantly less methylation in the promoter area of serotonin transporter gene SLC6A4, as compared to individuals working in a low stress environment. We also found that the expression of cortical BDNF correlated with the recovery non-REM (NREM) slow wave activity (SWA) response, and that both the cortical BDNF and the SWA response to sleep deprivation were decreased in the aged animals, as were the changes in sleep latency. CONCLUSIONS The disturbances in the models investigated, arise, largely, but not solely, due to disruption in neurological systems previously related to the regulation of sleep and mood. Novelty value could be ascribed to findings that suggest involvement of inter-tissue networks, and more precisely, imbalance of melanosome related gene expression and gene networks connected to Mn(II). The stress induced demethylation of the SLC6A4 promoter suggests a mechanism for the body to cope with prolonged excessive stress. The downside of this coping mechanism is the possibility that this reprogramming increases the long-term risk for mood disorders. The findings in the sleep deprived aging rats support the hypothesis that the age related decrease in homeostatic NREM SWA is related to a reduced sleep need.
  • Aula, Nina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2003)
  • Sarparanta, Jaakko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    This study aimed at elucidating molecular pathways behind muscular dystrophies, inherited disorders causing progressive weakness and loss of skeletal muscle, with the perspectives of demonstrating the pathogenicity of newly identified mutations, understanding the biology of muscle diseases, and finding options for their treatment. Tibial muscular dystrophy (TMD) and limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2J (LGMD2J) are caused by mutations in the C-terminal (M-band) part of the sarcomeric protein titin, whereas LGMD2A results from mutations in the muscle-specific protease calpain 3 (CAPN3). In yeast two-hybrid studies aiming at identifying proteins secondarily affected in the diseases, the multifunctional TRIM-related protein myospryn (CMYA5) was identified as a novel binding partner for both M-band titin and CAPN3. The interactions were confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation, and localization of myospryn at the M-band level was supported by multiple methods. Coexpression studies identified myospryn as a proteolytic substrate for CAPN3, and suggested that myospryn may attenuate its autolytic activation. The biological role of the titin myospryn interaction remained unresolved, and the mouse model of TMD/LGMD2J showed normal myospryn localization. However, since the TMD/LGMD2J mutations disrupt the myospryn binding site in titin, they are likely to have a downstream functional effect on myospryn. LGMD1D is caused by dominant mutations in the ubiquitous co-chaperone DNAJB6. LGMD1D muscle showed a myofibrillar pathology, with cytoplasmic accumulations of DNAJB6, aggregated Z-disc-associated proteins, and autophagic rimmed vacuoles. Expression of DNAJB6 constructs in zebrafish embryos confirmed a toxic effect of the mutant cytoplasmic DNAJB6b isoform, and cell culture studies demonstrated a slower turnover and impaired anti-aggregation activity of mutant DNAJB6. Protein interaction studies indicated an association of DNAJB6 with the chaperone-assisted selective autophagy (CASA) pathway, and a modulatory effect of BAG3 on DNAJB6 pathogenicity in zebrafish suggested that CASA has active role in the pathogenesis of LGMD1D. Welander distal myopathy (WDM) results from a dominant mutation in the prion-related domain (PRD) of the RNA-binding protein TIA1, a regulator of splicing and translation, and a component of stress granules (SGs). RT-PCR analysis of selected TIA1 target genes did not show splicing changes in WDM muscle, suggesting that the pathogenesis does not involve extensive mis-splicing. IF microscopy revealed accumulation of TIA1 and other SG proteins in WDM muscle, while image analysis of transfected cells, and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) studies indicated a mild increase in the SG-forming propensity of mutant TIA1. These findings suggest that increased aggregation of the TIA1 PRD causes muscle pathology in WDM, either directly through inappropriate protein aggregation or indirectly by compromising cellular metabolism.
  • Pitkäranta, Miia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    Epidemiological studies have shown an elevation in the incidence of asthma, allergic symptoms and respiratory infections among people living or working in buildings with moisture and mould problems. Microbial growth is suspected to have a key role, since the severity of microbial contamination and symptoms show a positive correlation, while the removal of contaminated materials relieves the symptoms. However, the cause-and-effect relationship has not been well established and knowledge of the causative agents is incomplete. The present consensus of indoor microbes relies on culture-based methods. Microbial cultivation and identification is known to provide qualitatively and quantitatively biased results, which is suspected to be one of the reasons behind the often inconsistent findings between objectively measured microbiological attributes and health. In the present study the indoor microbial communities were assessed using culture-independent, DNA based methods. Fungal and bacterial diversity was determined by amplifying and sequencing the nucITS- and16S-gene regions, correspondingly. In addition, the cell equivalent numbers of 69 mould species or groups were determined by quantitative PCR (qPCR). The results from molecular analyses were compared with results obtained using traditional plate cultivation for fungi. Using DNA-based tools, the indoor microbial diversity was found to be consistently higher and taxonomically wider than viable diversity. The dominant sequence types of fungi, and also of bacteria were mainly affiliated with well-known microbial species. However, in each building they were accompanied by various rare, uncultivable and unknown species. In both moisture-damaged and undamaged buildings the dominant fungal sequence phylotypes were affiliated with the classes Dothideomycetes (mould-like filamentous ascomycetes); Agaricomycetes (mushroom- and polypore-like filamentous basidiomycetes); Urediniomycetes (rust-like basidiomycetes); Tremellomycetes and the family Malasseziales (both yeast-like basidiomycetes). The most probable source for the majority of fungal types was the outdoor environment. In contrast, the dominant bacterial phylotypes in both damaged and undamaged buildings were affiliated with human-associated members within the phyla Actinobacteria and Firmicutes. Indications of elevated fungal diversity within potentially moisture-damage-associated fungal groups were recorded in two of the damaged buildings, while one of the buildings was characterized by an abundance of members of the Penicillium chrysogenum and P. commune species complexes. However, due to the small sample number and strong normal variation firm conclusions concerning the effect of moisture damage on the species diversity could not be made. The fungal communities in dust samples showed seasonal variation, which reflected the seasonal fluctuation of outdoor fungi. Seasonal variation of bacterial communities was less clear but to some extent attributable to the outdoor sources as well. The comparison of methods showed that clone library sequencing was a feasible method for describing the total microbial diversity, indicated a moderate quantitative correlation between sequencing and qPCR results and confirmed that culture based methods give both a qualitative and quantitative underestimate of microbial diversity in the indoor environment. However, certain important indoor fungi such as Penicillium spp. were clearly underrepresented in the sequence material, probably due to their physiological and genetic properties. Species specific qPCR was a more efficient and sensitive method for detecting and quantitating individual species than sequencing, but in order to exploit the full advantage of the method in building investigations more information is needed about the microbial species growing on damaged materials. In the present study, a new method was also developed for enhanced screening of the marker gene clone libraries. The suitability of the screening method to different kinds of microbial environments including biowaste compost material and indoor settled dusts was evaluated. The usability was found to be restricted to environments that support the growth and subsequent dominance of a small number microbial species, such as compost material.
  • Rice, Ritva (Helsingin yliopisto, 2004)
  • Voutilainen, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Mammary gland development begins during embryogenesis with the formation of species-typical number of mammary placodes that emerge along the flanks of the embryo at conserved positions. By birth, the mammary primordium has undergone branching morphogenesis and displays a small ductal tree with several branches. The organ development and growth continues throughout postnatal life and the mammary gland matures to functional form only during pregnancy and following lactation. Ectodysplasin (Eda), a member of the tumour necrosis factor family, is one of the key regulators of epithelial appendage development in all vertebrates. In humans, mutations in the Eda gene, or in other components of the signalling pathway, cause hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (HED), a disorder characterized by sparse hair, missing teeth, and defects in several exocrine glands including the breast. Previous studies have shown that transgenic overexpression of Eda (K14-Eda mice) in the developing ectoderm leads to formation of ectopic mammary placodes, which give rise to supernumerary glands in the adult mice. Otherwise, effects of Eda signalling in the mammary gland have been fairly unknown. Here I have analysed the role of Eda in prepubertal mammary gland development. Characterization of the mammary glands of Eda gain- (K14-Eda) and loss-of-function (Eda−/−) mice revealed that the branching morphogenesis of the organs correlated with Eda levels. Overexpression of Eda induced precocious and accelerated branching whereas lack of Eda reduced number of ductal tips. Furthermore, Eda induced supernumerary mammary placode formation not only on the flank but also in the neck region. Analysis of the mouse line with suppressed NF-kappaB signaling (IκBαΔN mice) revealed that the transcription factor is a major mediator of Eda in the mammary gland. NF-kappaB activity was shown to be necessary for the ability of Eda to induce supernumerary mammary primordia and to accelerate branching morphogenesis. With a candidate gene approach and genome wide-profiling several potent Eda target genes were identified in the mammary gland. Among them were members of the Wnt/beta-cat pathway. The obtained results suggest that Eda promotes mammary cell fate by enhancing canonical Wnt pathway activity and other effects of Eda are cooperatively mediated by certain Wnt family members in addition to other factors. To study mammary placode formation and branching morphogenesis and to assess roles of individual downstream factors or pathways, ex vivo culture systems were developed and utilized in this thesis work.
  • Morales Suárez, Luis Orlando (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Plant responses to solar ultraviolet radiation (UV, 280-400 nm) were assessed at different molecular levels using Betula pendula Roth (silver birch) and Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) as model species in outdoor experiments to assess the possibly interacting roles of the UV-B and UV-A wavebands in acclimation to sunlight. Solar UV-B (280-315 nm) and UV-A (315-400 nm) irradiance was attenuated with plastic films. Both solar UV-B and UV-A promoted the acclimation of silver birch and Arabidopsis to UV in sunlight by regulating the expression of genes with functions in UV protection and also by inducing the accumulation of phenolic compounds in the leaves. Solar UV also regulated transcript accumulation of genes involved in the signaling and biosynthesis of auxin, brassinosteroids and jasmonic acid (JA) in Arabidopsis. A new role of Arabidopsis UV-B photoreceptor UV RESISTANCE LOCUS8 (UVR8) in the regulation of some responses to solar UV-A radiation was observed in addition to its previously described role in UV-B perception. High UV-A irradiance as present in sunlight, had a large effect on plant metabolism and modulated some of the previously characterized UV-B responses most probably through interaction between UVR8 and CRY pathways. In contrast to UVR8, under UV-B irradiation conditions not inducing stress, RADICAL-INDUCED CELL DEATH1 (RCD1) played no active role in UV signaling and acclimation, but rather modulated UV responses under sunlight. We demonstrated that solar UV-A makes an important contribution to acclimation of plants to sunlight, independently and interacting with UV-B.
  • Jokela-Määttä, Mirka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Visual pigments of different animal species must have evolved at some stage to match the prevailing light environments, since all visual functions depend on their ability to absorb available photons and transduce the event into a reliable neural signal. There is a large literature on correlation between the light environment and spectral sensitivity between different fish species. However, little work has been done on evolutionary adaptation between separated populations within species. More generally, little is known about the rate of evolutionary adaptation to changing spectral environments. The objective of this thesis is to illuminate the constraints under which the evolutionary tuning of visual pigments works as evident in: scope, tempo, available molecular routes, and signal/noise trade-offs. Aquatic environments offer Nature s own laboratories for research on visual pigment properties, as naturally occurring light environments offer an enormous range of variation in both spectral composition and intensity. The present thesis focuses on the visual pigments that serve dim-light vision in two groups of model species, teleost fishes and mysid crustaceans. The geographical emphasis is in the brackish Baltic Sea area with its well-known postglacial isolation history and its aquatic fauna of both marine and fresh-water origin. The absorbance spectrum of the (single) dim-light visual pigment were recorded by microspectrophotometry (MSP) in single rods of 26 fish species and single rhabdoms of 8 opossum shrimp populations of the genus Mysis inhabiting marine, brackish or freshwater environments. Additionally, spectral sensitivity was determined from six Mysis populations by electroretinogram (ERG) recording. The rod opsin gene was sequenced in individuals of four allopatric populations of the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus). Rod opsins of two other goby species were investigated as outgroups for comparison. Rod absorbance spectra of the Baltic subspecies or populations of the primarily marine species herring (Clupea harengus membras), sand goby (P. minutus), and flounder (Platichthys flesus) were long-wavelength-shifted compared to their marine populations. The spectral shifts are consistent with adaptation for improved quantum catch (QC) as well as improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of vision in the Baltic light environment. Since the chromophore of the pigment was pure A1 in all cases, this has apparently been achieved by evolutionary tuning of the opsin visual pigment. By contrast, no opsin-based differences were evident between lake and sea populations of species of fresh-water origin, which can tune their pigment by varying chromophore ratios. A more detailed analysis of differences in absorbance spectra and opsin sequence between and within populations was conducted using the sand goby as model species. Four allopatric populations from the Baltic Sea (B), Swedish west coast (S), English Channel (E), and Adriatic Sea (A) were examined. Rod absorbance spectra, characterized by the wavelength of maximum absorbance (λmax), differed between populations and correlated with differences in the spectral light transmission of the respective water bodies. The greatest λmax shift as well as the greatest opsin sequence difference was between the Baltic and the Adriatic populations. The significant within-population variation of the Baltic λmax values (506-511 nm) was analyzed on the level of individuals and was shown to correlate well with opsin sequence substitutions. The sequences of individuals with λmax at shorter wavelengths were identical to that of the Swedish population, whereas those with λmax at longer wavelengths additionally had substitution F261F/Y in the sixth transmembrane helix of the protein. This substitution (Y261) was also present in the Baltic common gobies and is known to redshift spectra. The tuning mechanism of the long-wavelength type Baltic sand gobies is assumed to be the co-expression of F261 and Y261 in all rods to produce ≈ 5 nm redshift. The polymorphism of the Baltic sand goby population possibly indicates ambiguous selection pressures in the Baltic Sea. The visual pigments of all lake populations of the opossum shrimp (Mysis relicta) were red-shifted by 25 nm compared with all Baltic Sea populations. This is calculated to confer a significant advantage in both QC and SNR in many humus-rich lakes with reddish water. Since only A2 chromophore was present, the differences obviously reflect evolutionary tuning of the visual protein, the opsin. The changes have occurred within the ca. 9000 years that the lakes have been isolated from the Sea after the most recent glaciation. At present, it seems that the mechanism explaining the spectral differences between lake and sea populations is not an amino acid substitution at any other conventional tuning site, but the mechanism is yet to be found.
  • Rao, Pengcheng (Helsingin yliopisto, 2001)
  • Kainulainen, Veera (2012)
    Moonlighting functions have been described for several proteins previously thought to localize exclusively in the cytoplasm of bacterial or eukaryotic cells. Moonlighting proteins usually perform conserved functions, e. g. in glycolysis or as chaperonins, and their traditional and moonlighting function(s) usually localize to different cell compartments. The most characterized moonlighting proteins in Grampositive bacteria are the glycolytic enzymes enolase and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), which function in bacteria-host interactions, e. g. as adhesins or plasminogen receptors. Research on bacterial moonlighting proteins has focused on Gram-positive bacterial pathogens, where many of their functions have been associated with bacterial virulence. In this thesis work I show that also species of the genus Lactobacillus have moonlighting proteins that carry out functions earlier associated with bacterial virulence only. I identified enolase, GAPDH, glutamine synthetase (GS), and glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (GPI) as moonlighting proteins of Lactobacillus crispatus strain ST1 and demonstrated that they are associated with cell surface and easily released from the cell surface into incubation buffer. I also showed that these lactobacillar proteins moonlight either as adhesins with affinity for basement membrane and extracellular matrix proteins or as plasminogen receptors. The mechanisms of surface translocation and anchoring of bacterial moonlighting proteins have remained enigmatic. In this work, the surface localization of enolase, GAPDH, GS and GPI was shown to depend on environmental factors. The members of the genus Lactobacillus are fermentative organisms that lower the ambient pH by producing lactic acid. At acidic pH enolase, GAPDH, GS and GPI were associated with the cell surface, whereas at neutral pH they were released into the buffer. The release did not involve de novo protein synthesis. I showed that purified recombinant His6-enolase, His6-GAPDH, His6-GS and His6-GPI reassociate with cell wall and bind in vitro to lipoteichoic acids at acidic pH. The in-vitro binding of these proteins localizes to cell division septa and cell poles. I also show that the release of moonlighting proteins is enhanced in the presence of cathelicidin LL- 37, which is an antimicrobial peptide and a central part of the innate immunity defence. I found that the LL-37-induced detachment of moonlighting proteins from cell surface is associated with cell wall permeabilization by LL-37. The results in this thesis work are compatible with the hypothesis that the moonlighting proteins of L. crispatus associate to the cell wall via electrostatic or ionic interactions and that they are released into surroundings in stress conditions. Their surface translocation is, at least in part, a result from their release from dead or permeabilized cells and subsequent reassociation onto the cell wall. The results of this thesis show that lactobacillar cells rapidly change their surface architecture in response to environmental factors and that these changes influence bacterial interactions with the host.
  • Puhka, Maija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the Golgi apparatus are organelles that produce, modify and transport proteins and lipids and regulate Ca2+ environment within cells. Structurally they are composed of sheets and tubules. Sheets may take various forms: intact, fenestrated, single or stacked. The ER, including the nuclear envelope, is a single continuous network, while the Golgi shows only some level of connectivity. It is often unclear, how different morphologies correspond to particular functions. Previous studies indicate that the structures of the ER and Golgi are dynamic and regulated by fusion and fission events, cytoskeleton, rate of protein synthesis and secretion, and specific structural proteins. For example, many structural proteins shaping tubular ER have been identified, but sheet formation is much more unclear. In this study, we used light and electron microscopy to study morphological changes of the ER and Golgi in mammalian cells. The proportion, type, location and dynamics of ER sheets and tubules were found to vary in a cell type or cell cycle stage dependent manner. During interphase, ER and Golgi structures were demonstrated to be regulated by p37, a cofactor of the fusion factor p97, and microtubules, which also affected the localization of the organelles. Like previously shown for the Golgi, the ER displayed a tendency for fenestration and tubulation during mitosis. However, this shape change did not result in ER fragmentation as happens to Golgi, but a continuous network was retained. The activity of p97/p37 was found to be important for the reassembly of both organelles after mitosis. In EM images, ER sheet membranes appear rough, since they contain attached ribosomes, whereas tubular membranes appear smooth. Our studies revealed that structural changes of the ER towards fenestrated and tubular direction correlate with loss of ER-bound ribosomes and vice versa. High and low curvature ER membranes have a low and high density of ribosomes, respectively. To conclude, both ER and Golgi architecture depend on fusion activity of p97/p37. ER morphogenesis, particularly of the sheet shape, is intimately linked to the density of membrane bound ribosomes.
  • Holmlund, Emma (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Symptomless nasopharyngeal carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is very common in young children. Occasionally the carriage proceeds into mild mucosal diseases, such as sinusitis or acute otitis media, or into serious life-threatening diseases, such as pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis. Each year, up to one million children less than five years of age worldwide die of invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPD). Especially in the low-income countries IPD is a leading health problem in infants; 75% of all IPD cases occur before one year of age. This stresses the need of increased protection against pneumococcus in infancy. Anti-pneumococcal antibodies form an important component in the defence against pneumococcal infection. Maternal immunisation and early infant immunisation are two possible ways by which potentially protective antibody concentrations against pneumococci could be achieved in early infancy. The aim of this thesis is to increase the knowledge of antibody mediated protection against pneumococcal disease in infants and young children. We investigated the transfer of maternal anti-pneumococcal antibodies from Filipino mothers to their infants, the persistence of the transferred antibodies in the infants, the immunogenicity of the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) in infants and the response of the children to a second dose of PPV at three years of age. We also investigated the development of antibodies to pneumococcal protein antigens in relation to culture-confirmed pneumococcal carriage in infants. Serum samples were collected from the mothers, the umbilical cords and from the infants at young age as well as at three years of age. The samples were used to determine the antibody concentrations to pneumococcal serotypes 1, 5, 6B, 14, 18C and 19F, as well as to the pneumococcal proteins PspA, PsaA, Ply, PspC, PhtD, PhtDC and LytC by the enzyme immunoassay. The findings of the present study confirm previously obtained results and add to the global knowledge of responses to PPV in young children. Immunising pregnant women with PPV provides the infants with increased concentrations of pneumococcal polysaccharide antibodies. Of the six serotypes examined, serotypes 1 and 5 were immunogenic already in infants. At three years of age, the children responded well to the second dose of PPV suggesting that maternal and early infant immunisations might not induce hyporesponsiveness to polysaccharide antigens after subsequent immunisations. The anti-protein antibody findings provide useful information for the development of pneumococcal protein vaccines. All six proteins studied were immunogenic in infancy and the development of anti-protein antibodies started early in life in relation to pneumococcal carriage.