Browsing by Subject "biokemia"

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  • Reijonen, Sami (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    This thesis clarifies important molecular pathways that are activated during the cell death observed in Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s disease is one of the most common inherited neurodegenerative diseases, which is primarily inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. HD is caused by an expansion of CAG repeats in the first exon of the IT15 gene. IT15 encodes the production of a Huntington’s disease protein huntingtin. Mutation of the IT15 gene results in a long stretch of polyQ residues close to the amino-terminal region of huntingtin. Huntington’s disease is a fatal autosomal neurodegenerative disorder. Despite the current knowledge of HD, the precise mechanism behind the selective neuronal death, and how the disease propagates, still remains an enigma. The studies mainly focused on the control of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress triggered by the mutant huntingtin proteins. The ER is a delicate organelle having essential roles in protein folding and calcium regulation. Even the slightest perturbations on ER homeostasis are effective enough to trigger ER stress and its adaptation pathways, called unfolded protein response (UPR). UPR is essential for cellular homeostasis and it adapts ER to the changing environment and decreases ER stress. If adaptation processes fail and stress is excessive and prolonged; irreversible cell death pathways are engaged. The results showed that inhibition of ER stress with chemical agents are able to decrease cell death and formation of toxic cell aggregates caused by mutant huntingtin proteins. The study concentrated also to the NF-κB (nuclear factor-kappaB) pathway, which is activated during ER stress. NF-κB pathway is capable to regulate the levels of important cellular antioxidants. Cellular antioxidants provide a first line of defence against excess reactive oxygen species. Excess accumulation of reactive oxygen species and subsequent activation of oxidative stress damages motley of vital cellular processes and induce cell degeneration. Data showed that mutant huntingtin proteins downregulate the expression levels of NF-κB and vital antioxidants, which was followed by increased oxidative stress and cell death. Treatment with antioxidants and inhibition of oxidative stress were able to counteract these adverse effects. In addition, thesis connects ER stress caused by mutant huntingtin to the cytoprotective autophagy. Autophagy sustains cellular balance by degrading potentially toxic cell proteins and components observed in Huntington’s disease. The results revealed that cytoprotective autophagy is active at the early points (24h) of ER stress after expression of mutant huntingtin proteins. GADD34 (growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible gene 34), which is previously connected to the regulation of translation during cell stress, was shown to control the stimulation of autophagy. However, GADD34 and autophagy were downregulated at later time points (48h) during mutant huntingtin proteins induced ER stress, and subsequently cell survival decreased. Overexpression GADD34 enhanced autophagy and decreased cell death, indicating that GADD34 plays a critical role in cell protection. The thesis reveales new interesting data about the neuronal cell death pathways seen in Huntington’s disease, and how cell degeneration is partly counteracted by various therapeutic agents. Expression of mutant huntingtin proteins is shown to alter signaling events that control ER stress, oxidative stress and autophagy. Despite that Huntington’s disease is mainly an untreatable disorder; these findings offer potential targets and neuroprotective strategies in designing novel therapies for Huntington’s disease.
  • Nurminen, Tuula (2006)
    The purpose of this thesis project is to study changes in the physical state of cell membranes during cell entry, including how these changes are connected to the presence of ceramide. The role of enzymatical manipulation of lipids in bacterial internalization is also studied. A novel technique, where a single giant vesicle is chosen under the microscope and an enzyme coupled-particle attached to the micromanipulator pipette towards the vesicle, is used. Thus, the enzymatic reaction on the membrane of the giant vesicle can be followed in real-time. The first aim of this study is to develop a system where the localized sphingomyelinase membrane interaction could be observed on the surface of the giant vesicle and the effects could be monitored with microscopy. Domain formation, which resembles acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase), causes CD95 clustering in the cell membrane due to ceramide production (Grassmé et al., 2001a; Grassmé et al., 2001b) and the formation of small vesicles inside the manipulated giant vesicle is observed. Sphingomyelinase activation has also been found to be an important factor in the bacterial and viral invasion process in nonphagocytic cells (Grassmé et al., 1997; Jan et al., 2000). Accordingly, sphingomyelinase reactions in the cell membrane might also give insight into bacterial or viral cellular entry events. We found sphingomyelinase activity in Chlamydia pneumonia elementarybodies (EBs). Interestingly, the bacterium enters host cells by endocytosis but the internalization mechanism of Chlamydia is unknown. The hypothesis is that sphingomyelin is needed for host cell entry in the infection of C. pneumonia. The second project focuses on this subject. The goal of the third project is to study a role of phosphatidylserine as a target for a membrane binding protein. Phosphatidylserine is chosen because of its importance in fusion processes. This will be another example for the importance of lipids in cell targeting, internalization, and externalization.
  • Golubtsov, Andrey (Edita, 2008)
    Replication and transcription of the RNA genome of alphaviruses relies on a set of virus-encoded nonstructural proteins. They are synthesized as a long polyprotein precursor, P1234, which is cleaved at three processing sites to yield nonstructural proteins nsP1, nsP2, nsP3 and nsP4. All the four proteins function as constitutive components of the membrane-associated viral replicase. Proteolytic processing of P1234 polyprotein is precisely orchestrated and coordinates the replicase assembly and maturation. The specificity of the replicase is also controlled by proteolytic cleavages. The early replicase is composed of P123 polyprotein intermediate and nsP4. It copies the positive sense RNA genome to complementary minus-strand. Production of new plus-strands requires complete processing of the replicase. The papain-like protease residing in nsP2 is responsible for all three cleavages in P1234. This study addressed the mechanisms of proteolytic processing of the replicase polyprotein in two alphaviruses Semliki Forest virus (SFV) and Sindbis virus (SIN) representing different branches of the genus. The survey highlighted the functional relation of the alphavirus nsP2 protease to the papain-like enzymes. A new structural motif the Cys-His catalytic dyad accompanied with an aromatic residue following the catalytic His was described for nsP2 and a subset of other thiol proteases. Such an architecture of the catalytic center was named the glycine specificity motif since it was implicated in recognition of a specific Gly residue in the substrate. In particular, the presence of the motif in nsP2 makes the appearance of this amino acid at the second position upstream of the scissile bond a necessary condition for the cleavage. On top of that, there were four distinct mechanisms identified, which provide affinity for the protease and specifically direct the enzyme to different sites in the P1234 polyprotein. Three factors RNA, the central domain of nsP3 and the N-terminus of nsP2 were demonstrated to be external modulators of the nsP2 protease. Here I suggest that the basal nsP2 protease specificity is inherited from the ancestral papain-like enzyme and employs the recognition of the upstream amino acid signature in the immediate vicinity of the scissile bond. This mechanism is responsible for the efficient processing of the SFV nsP3/nsP4 junction. I propose that the same mechanism is involved in the cleavage of the nsP1/nsP2 junction of both viruses as well. However, in this case it rather serves to position the substrate, whereas the efficiency of the processing is ensured by the capability of nsP2 to cut its own N-terminus in cis. Both types of cleavages are demonstrated here to be inhibited by RNA, which is interpreted as impairing the basal papain-like recognition of the substrate. In contrast, processing of the SIN nsP3/nsP4 junction was found to be activated by RNA and additionally potentiated by the presence of the central region of nsP3 in the protease. The processing of the nsP2/nsP3 junction in both viruses occurred via another mechanism, requiring the exactly processed N-terminus of nsP2 in the protease and insensitive to RNA addition. Therefore, the three processing events in the replicase polyprotein maturation are performed via three distinct mechanisms in each of two studied alphaviruses. Distinct sets of conditions required for each cleavage ensure sequential maturation of P1234 polyprotein: nsP4 is released first, then the nsP1/nsP2 site is cut in cis, and liberation of the nsP2 N-terminus activates the cleavage of the nsP2/nsP3 junction at last. The first processing event occurs differently in SFV and SIN, whereas the subsequent cleavages are found to be similar in the two viruses and therefore, their mechanisms are suggested to be conserved in the genus. The RNA modulation of the alphavirus nonstructural protease activity, discovered here, implies bidirectional functional interplay between the alphavirus RNA metabolism and protease regulation. The nsP2 protease emerges as a signal transmitting moiety, which senses the replication stage and responds with proteolytic cleavages. A detailed hypothetical model of the alphavirus replicase core was inferred from the data obtained in the study. Similar principles in replicase organization and protease functioning are expected to be employed by other RNA viruses.