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  • Molotkov, Dmitry (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Among other glial cell types such as microglia, oligodendrocytes and radial glia, astrocytes are known to be involved in brain function; metabolically supporting neurons, regulating blood flow dynamics, participating in the development of pathological states, sensing and modulating synaptic activity. At the same time the complex astrocytic morphology, with a number of highly ramified peripheral processes located near the synaptic terminals, suggests them as a possible source for morpho-functional plasticity in the brain. This thesis summarizes the work on the in vitro development and further in vivo implementation, using a gene delivery system, of a tool for suppressing activity-dependent astrocytic motility. Calciuminduced astrocyte process outgrowth and its dependence on Profilin-1, novel in vivo gene delivery approaches, a demonstration of astrocytic motility in vivo and the independence of visual processing from astrocytic motility rates are the main findings of the project. The results described in this work increase our understanding of the interactions occurring between astrocytes and neurons as well as the consequences for brain function.
  • Mantela, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    The inner ear originates from an ectodermal thickening called the otic placode. The otic placode invaginates and closes to an otic vesicle, the otocyst. The otocyst epithelium undergoes morphogenetic changes and cell differentiation, leading to the formation of the labyrinth-like mature inner ear. Epithelial-mesenchymal interactions control inner ear morphogenesis, but the modes and molecules are largely unresolved. The expressions of negative cell cycle regulators in the epithelium of the early-developing inner ear have also not been elucidated. The mature inner ear comprises the hearing (cochlea) and balance (vestibular) organs that contain the nonsensory and sensory cells. In mammals, the inner ear sensory cells, called hair cells, exit the cell cycle during embryogenesis and are mitotically quiescent during late-embryonic differentiation stages and postnatally. The mechanisms that maintain this hair cell quiescense are largely unresolved. In this work I examined 1) the epithelial-mesenchymal interactions involved in inner ear morphogenesis, 2) expression of negative cell cycle regulators in the epithelium of the early developing inner ear and 3) the molecular mechanisms that maintain the postmitotic state of inner ear sensory cells. We observed that during otocyst stages, epithelial fibroblast growth factor 9 (Fgf9) communicates with the surrounding mesenchyme, where its receptors are expressed. Fgf9 inactivation leads to reduced proliferation of the surrounding vestibular mesenchyme and to the absence of semicircular canals. Semicircular canal development is blocked, since fusion plates do not form. These results show that the mesenchyme directs fusion plate formation and give direct evidence for the existence of reciprocal epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in the developing inner ear. Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CKIs) are negative regulators of proliferation. We show that the members of the Cip/Kip family of CKIs (p21Cip1, p27Kip1 and p57Kip2) are expressed in the early-developing inner ear. Our expression data suggest that CKIs divide the otic epithelium into proliferative and nonproliferative compartments that may underlie shaping of the otocyst. At later stages, CKIs regulate proliferation of the vestibular appendages, and this may regulate their continual growth. In addition to restricting proliferation, CKIs may play a role in regional differentiation of various epithelial cells. Differentiating and adult inner ear hair cells are postmitotic and do not proliferate in response to serum or mitogenic growth factors. In our study, we show that this is the result of the activity of negative cell cycle regulators. Based on expression profiles, we first focused on the retinoblastoma (Rb) gene, which functions downstream of the CKIs. Analysis of the inner ear phenotype of Rb mutant mice show, that the retinoblastoma protein regulates the postmitotic state of hair cells. Rb inactivation leads to hyperplasia of vestibular and cochlear sensory epithelia that is a result of abnormal cell cycle entry of differentiated hair cells and of delayed cell cycle exit of the hair cell precursor cells. In addition, we show that p21Cip1 and p19Ink4d cooperate in maintaining the postmitotic state of postnatal auditory hair cells. Whereas inactivation of p19Ink4d alone leads to low-level S-phase entry (Chen et al., 2003) and p21Cip1 null mutant mice have a normal inner ear phenotype, codeletion of p19Ink4d and p21Cip1 triggers high-level S-phase entry of auditory hair cells during early postnatal life, which leads to supernumerary hair cells. The ectopic hair cells undergo apoptosis in all of the mutant mice studied, DNA damage being the immediate cause of this death. These findings demonstrate that the maintenance of the postmitotic state of hair cells is regulated by Rb and several CKIs, and that these cell cycle regulators are critical for the lifelong survival of hair cells. These data have implications for the future design of therapies to induce hair cell regrowth.
  • Pummila, Marja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Several organs of the embryo develop as appendages of the ectoderm, the outermost layer of the embryo. These organs include hair follicles, teeth and mammary glands, which all develop as a result of reciprocal tissue interactions between the surface epithelium and the underlying mesenchyme. Several signalling molecules regulate ectodermal organogenesis the most important ones being Wnts, fi broblast growth factors (Fgfs), transforming growth factor -βs (Tgf-βs) including bone morphogenetic proteins (Bmps), hedgehogs (Hhs), and tumour necrosis factors (Tnfs). This study focuses on ectodysplasin (EDA), a signalling molecule of the TNF superfamily. The effects of EDA are mediated by its receptor EDAR, an intracellular adapter protein EDARADD, and downstream activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-кB). Mice deficient in Eda (Tabby mice), its receptor Edar (downless mice) or Edaradd (crinkled mice) show identical phenotypes characterised by defective ectodermal organ development. These mouse mutants serve as models for the human syndrome named hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (HED) that is caused by mutations either in Eda, Edar or Edaradd. The purpose of this study was to characterize the ectodermal organ phenotype of transgenic mice overexpressing of Eda (K14-Eda mice), to study the role of Eda in ectodermal organogenesis using both in vivo and in vitro approaches, and to analyze the potential redundancy between the Eda pathway and other Tnf pathways. The results suggest that Eda plays a role during several stages of ectodermal organ development from initiation to differentiation. Eda signalling was shown to regulate the initiation of skin appendage development by promoting appendageal cell fate at the expense of epidermal cell fate. These effects of Eda were shown to be mediated, at least in part, through the transcriptional regulation of genes that antagonized Bmp signalling and stimulated Shh signalling. It was also shown that Eda/Edar signalling functions redundantly with Troy, which encodes a related TNF receptor, during hair development. This work has revealed several novel aspects of the function of the Eda pathway in hair and tooth development, and also suggests a previously unrecognized role for Eda in mammary gland development.
  • Rouhiainen, Ari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    The matrix of blood is a liquid plasma that transports molecules and blood cells within vessels lined by endothelial cells. High-mobility group B1 (HMGB1) is a protein expressed in blood cells. Under normal circumstances, HMGB1 is virtually absent from plasma, but during inflammation or trauma its level in plasma is increased. In resting and quiescent cells, HMGB1 is usually localized in the intracellular compartment, with the exception of motile cells that express HMGB1 on their outer surface to mediate cell migration. During cell transformation or immune cell activation HMGB1 can be actively secreted outside of the cell. Further, when a cell is damaged, HMGB1 can passively leak into extracellular environment. Extracellular HMGB1 can then participate in regulation of the immune response and under some conditions it can mediate lethality in systemic inflammatory response. The aim of this study was to evaluate the expression and functions of HMGB1 in cells of the vascular system and to investigate the prognostic value of circulating HMGB1 in severe sepsis and septic shock. HMGB1 was detected in platelets, leukocytes, and endothelial cells. HMGB1 was released from platelets and leukocytes, and it was found to mediate their adhesive and migratory functions. During severe infections the plasma levels of HMGB1 were elevated; however, no direct correlation with lethality was found. Further, the analysis of proinflammatory mechanisms suggested that HMGB1 forms complexes with other molecules to activate the immune system. In conclusion, HMGB1 is expressed in the cells of the vascular system, and it participates in inflammatory mechanisms by activating platelets and leukocytes and by mediating monocyte migration.
  • Strengell, Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2005)
  • Huttunen, Henri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2002)
  • Koski-Vähälä, Jukka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2001)
  • Lappalainen, Hanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    In northern latitudes, temperature is the key factor driving the temporal scales of biological activity, namely the length of the growing season and the seasonal efficiency of photosynthesis. The formation of atmospheric concentrations of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) are linked to the intensity of biological activity. However, interdisciplinary knowledge of the role of temperature in the biological processes related to the annual cycle and photosynthesis and atmospheric chemistry is not fully understood. The aim of this study was to improve understanding of the role of temperature in these three interlinked areas: 1) onset of growing season, 2) photosynthetic efficiency and 3) BVOC air concentrations in a boreal forest. The results present a cross-section of the role of temperature on different spatial (southern northern boreal), structural (tree forest stand - forest) and temporal (day-season- year) scales. The fundamental status of the Thermal Time model in predicting the onset of spring recovery was confirmed. However, it was recommended that sequential models would be more appropriate tools when the onset of the growing season is estimated under a warmer climate. A similar type of relationship between photosynthetic efficiency and temperature history was found in both southern and northern boreal forest stands. This result draws attention to the critical question of the seasonal efficiency of coniferous species to emit organic compounds under a warmer climate. New knowledge about the temperature dependence of the concentrations of biogenic volatile organic compounds in a boreal forest stand was obtained. The seasonal progress and the inter-correlation of BVOC concentrations in ambient air indicated a link to biological activity. Temperature was found to be the main driving factor for the concentrations. However, in addition to temperature, other factors may play a significant role here, especially when the peak concentrations are studied. There is strong evidence that the spring recovery and phenological events of many plant species have already advanced in Europe. This study does not fully support this observation. In a boreal forest, changes in the annual cycle, especially the temperature requirement in winter, would have an impact on the atmospheric BVOC composition. According to this study, more joint phenological and BVOC field observations and laboratory experiments are still needed to improve these scenarios.
  • Li, Jing (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    It has been well established that environmentally induced alterations in gene expression are mediated by transcription factors (TFs). One of the important plant-specific TF groups is the WRKY (TFs containing a highly conserved WRKY domain) family, which is involved in regulation of various physiological programs including biotic and abiotic defenses, senescence and trichome development. Two members of WRKY group III in Arabidopsis thaliana, WRKY54 and WRKY70, are demonstrated in this study to be key components in cooperative regulation of developmental senescence, osmotic stress response as well as specific pathogen defenses. As revealed by molecular studies, we found that WRKY54, the closest homologue of WRKY70, exhibited a similar expression pattern as WRKY70 and also functioned in leaf senescence. Disruption of both WRKY54 and WRKY70 resulted in clearly enhanced premature senescence, suggesting that WRKY54 and WRKY70 co-operate as negative regulators of senescence. In addition, yeast two-hybrid analysis showed that WRKY54, WRKY70 and WRKY53 could independently interact with WRKY30. Moreover, the phytohormone salicylic acid (SA) positively affected the expression of WRKY54,WRKY70, WRKY53 and WRKY30. Additionally, WRKY53 and WRKY30 but not WRKY54 and WRKY70 were responsive to reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), a central factor in senescence. All of these data suggest that WRKY54,WRKY70 and WRKY53 act as critical regulators in modulating the process of senescence through independent interaction with WRKY30. The involvement of WRKY54 and WRKY70 in abiotic stress responses was also explored in this study. The transient induction of WRKY54 and WRKY70 by osmotic stress implicated that they might play roles in the abiotic stress response. The wrky54wrky70 double mutant showed enhanced tolerance to osmotic stress compared to the corresponding single mutants and wild-type plants, indicating that these two TFs cooperate as negative regulators of the osmotic stress response. Although the tolerance to osmotic stress was improved in the wrky54wrky70 double mutant, neither the expression of osmotic stress-related genes nor the accumulation of the osmolyte proline was enhanced. The suppressed gene expression in the wrky54wrky70 double mutant is SA dependent,but the osmotic stress tolerance results more directly from the involvement of both negative regulators WRKY54 and WRKY70. In addition, abscisic acid (ABA)signaling was also involved in this suppression. The final analysis showed that the enhanced tolerance in the wrky54wrky70 double mutant was correlated with improved water retention and enhanced stomatal closure. Consequently, the crosstalk between SA mediated biotic and ABA-mediated abiotic stress responses is modulated by WRKY54 and WRKY70. The contribution of both WRKY54 and WRKY70 to plant disease resistance remains unclear although the role of WRKY70 in biotic stress has been previously characterized. Non-stressed wrky54wrky70 double mutant exhibited constitutively expressed defense-related genes and accumulation of H2O2, resulting in pre-formed defense to necrotrophic pathogens such as Pectobacterium carotovorum and Botrytis cinerea. However, this pre-formed resistance was compromised in non-stressed wrky54wrky70sid2-1 triple mutant due to the reduced level of SA. These results suggest that increased SA leads to accumulation of H2O2 which is required to activate antimicrobial defenses to pathogens. Furthermore, genes encoding cell wall-related peroxidases and cell wall modification proteins were up-regulated in the wrky54wrky70 double mutant but not in the wrky54wrky70sid2-1 triple mutant, indicating that the cell wall-associated defense to necrotrophs could result from the elevated SA level in the wrky54wrky70 double mutant. However, this cell wall-associated resistance in wrky54wrky70 did not contribute to the defense against biotrophs. This might require additional defense measures controlled by WRKY54 and WRKY70 which are not activated in the double mutant, although the SA responsive genes are up-regulated by the accumulation of H2O2.
  • Rossi, Jari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2003)
  • Cui, Fuqiang (Hansaprint, 2014)
    To face the constant challenges from numerous pathogens in the environment, sophisticated defense systems have evolved in plants. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and phytohormones are important cellular compounds that regulate plant defense systems to overcome biotic stresses from different pathogens. Against biotrophic pathogens, which require living host cells, hypersensitive cell death response (HR), a type of programed cell death mediated by ROS and salicylic acid (SA), is effective for immunity. However, to necrotrophic pathogens, which take host cell death as a hallmark of a successful colonization, the roles of ROS and phytohormones in the manipulation of cell death during plant defense are more complex. In this work, we utilized the model necrotrophic pathogen Botrytis cinerea (Botrytis; grey mold) and the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis), using mutants in reverse genetic screens, especially radical-induced cell death1 (rcd1) and botrytis susceptible1 (bos1), were used to study the functions of ROS and phytohormones in plant-Botrytis interactions. It was found that Botrytis-triggered signaling in Arabidopsis mostly overlapped with the signaling triggered by apoplastic ROS but not intracellular ROS. However, rcd1 and bos1 exhibited opposite symptoms in response to Botrytis and apoplastic ROS. This suggested that the resistance signaling regulated by RCD1 or BOS1 were distinct from a more common signaling programs induced by Botrytis and apoplastic ROS. Further study revealed that RCD1 negatively regulated Botrytis resistance independent of stress-hormones. RCD1 positively regulated Botrytis-toxin sensitivity and brassinosteroid (BR) signaling, which was demonstrated to negatively regulate plant resistance to Botrytis. In the BOS1 study, suppression of abscisic acid (ABA)-elicited cell death and control of cell death spread were identified as pivotal functions of BOS1 in its regulation of host resistance to Botrytis. This work emphasized the negative roles of both BR and ABA in response to Botrytis infection. Considering the established facts that: 1) ABA promoted plant cell death, 2) BR deficiency leads to delayed senescence, and 3) the ROS burst causes damage to both host and Botrytis; this work supports the view that cell death control plays a pivotal role in plant-Botrytis interactions, where defense combined with less cell death confers plants with an advantage in the battle against Botrytis.
  • Kaartokallio, Hermanni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2005)
  • Ainasoja, Miia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Plants produce a diversity of secondary metabolites, i.e., low-molecular-weight compounds that have primarily ecological functions in plants. The flavonoid pathway is one of the most studied biosynthetic pathways in plants. In order to understand biosynthetic pathways fully, it is necessary to isolate and purify the enzymes of the pathways to study individual steps and to study the regulatory genes of the pathways. Chalcone synthases are key enzymes in the formation of several groups of flavonoids, including anthocyanins. In this study, a new chalcone synthase enzyme (GCHS4), which may be one of the main contributors to flower colour, was characterised from the ornamental plant Gerbera hybrida. In addition, four chalcone synthase-like genes and enzymes (GCHS17, GCHS17b, GCHS26 and GCHS26b) were studied. Spatial expression of the polyketide synthase gene family in gerbera was also analysed with quantitative RT-PCR from 12 tissues, including several developmental stages and flower types. A previously identified MYB transcription factor from gerbera, GMYB10, which regulates the anthocyanin pathway, was transferred to gerbera and the phenotypes were analysed. Total anthocyanin content and anthocyanidin profiles of control and transgenic samples were compared spectrophotometrically and with HPLC. The overexpression of GMYB10 alone was able to change anthocyanin pigmentation: cyanidin pigmentation was induced and pelargonidin pigmentation was increased. The gerbera 9K cDNA microarray was used to compare the gene expression profiles of transgenic tissues against the corresponding control tissues to reveal putative target genes for GMYB10. GMYB10 overexpression affected the expression of both early and late biosynthetic genes in anthocyanin-accumulating transgenic tissues, including the newly isolated gene GCHS4. Two new MYB domain factors, named as GMYB11 and GMYB12, were also upregulated. Gene transfer is not only a powerful tool for basic research, but also for plant breeding. However, crop improvement by genetic modification (GM) remains controversial, at least in Europe. Many of the concerns relating to both human health and to ecological impacts relate to changes in the secondary metabolites of GM crops. In the second part of this study, qualitative and quantitative differences in cytotoxicity and metabolic fingerprints between 225 genetically modified Gerbera hybrida lines and 42 non-GM Gerbera varieties were compared. There was no evidence for any major qualitative and quantitative changes between the GM lines and non-GM varieties. The developed cell viability assays offer also a model scheme for cell-based cytotoxicity screening of a large variety of GM plants in standardized conditions.
  • Ketola, Mirva (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    To protect and restore lake ecosystems under threats posed by the increasing human population, information on their ecological quality is needed. Lake sediments provide a data rich archive that allows identification of various biological components present prior to anthropogenic alterations as well as a constant record of changes. By providing a longer dimension of time than any ongoing monitoring programme, palaeolimnological methods can help in understanding natural variability and long-term ecological changes in lakes. As zooplankton have a central role in the lake food web, their remains can potentially provide versatile information on past trophic structure. However, various taphonomic processes operating in the lakes still raise questions concerning how subfossil assemblages reflect living communities. This thesis work aimed at improving the use of sedimentary zooplankton remains in the reconstruction of past zooplankton communities and the trophic structure in lakes. To quantify interspecific differences in the accumulation of remains, the subfossils of nine pelagic zooplankton taxa in annually laminated sediments were compared with monitoring results for live zooplankton in Lake Vesijärvi. This lake has a known history of eutrophication and recovery, which resulted from reduced external loading and effective fishing of plankti-benthivorous fish. The response of zooplankton assemblages to these known changes was resolved using annually laminated sediments. The generality of the responses observed in Lake Vesijärvi were further tested with a set of 31 lakes in Southern Finland, relating subfossils in surface sediments to contemporary water quality and fish density, as well as to lake morphometry. The results demonstrated differential preservation and retention of cladoceran species in the sediment. Daphnia, Diaphanosoma and Ceriodaphnia were clearly underrepresented in the sediment samples in comparison to well-preserved Bosmina species, Chydorus, Limnosida and Leptodora. For well-preserved species, the annual net accumulation rate was similar to or above the expected values, reflecting effective sediment focusing and accumulation in the deepest part of the lake. The decreased fish density and improved water quality led to subtle changes in zooplankton community composition. The abundance of Diaphanosoma and Limnosida increased after the reduction in fish density, while Ceriodaphnia and rotifers decreased. The most sensitive indicator of fish density was the mean size of Daphnia ephippia and Bosmina (E.) crassicornis ephippia and carapaces. The concentration of plant-associated species increased, reflecting expanding littoral vegetation along with increasing transparency. Several of the patterns observed in Lake Vesijärvi could also be found within the set of 31 lakes. According to this thesis work, the most useful cladoceran-based indices for nutrient status and planktivorous fish density in Finnish lakes were the relative abundances of certain pelagic taxa, and the mean size of Bosmina spp. carapaces, especially those of Bosmina (E.) cf. coregoni. The abundance of plant-associated species reflected the potential area for aquatic plants. Lake morphometry and sediment organic content, however, explained a relatively high proportion of the variance in the species data, and more studies are needed to quantify lake-specific differences in the accumulation and preservation of remains. Commonly occurring multicollinearity between environmental variables obstructs the cladoceran-based reconstruction of single environmental variables. As taphonomic factors and several direct and indirect structuring forces in lake ecosystems simultaneously affect zooplankton, the subfossil assemblages should be studied in a holistic way before making final conclusions about the trophic structure and the change in lake ecological quality.