Browsing by Organization "Helsingfors universitet, bio- och miljövetenskapliga fakulteten, biovetenskapliga institutionen"

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  • Pakarinen, Suvi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    The relationship between hosts and parasites is one of the most studied interactions between living organisms, and it is both universal and common in nature. Parasitoids are special type of parasites whose offspring develop attached to or within a single host organism that it ultimately consumes and kills. Hosts are arthropods and most parasitoids belong to the insect order Hymenoptera. For almost two decades metapopulation research on the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia) has been conducted in the Åland Islands, Finland. The studies have been concerned with the population dynamics, evolution, genetics, behavior, natural history and life history characteristics of M. cinxia, as well as with species interacting with the butterfly. The parasitoids of M. cinxia have been under long term studies and much has been learned about specific host-parasitoid interactions during the past decade. The research for this Master s thesis was done in the Åland Islands during summer 2010. I conducted a reciprocal transplant style experiment in order to compare the performance of host butterflies (M. cinxia) under attack by different parasitoid wasps (C. melitaearum). I used hosts and parasitoids from five origins around the Baltic Sea: Öland, Uppland, Åland, Saaremaa and Pikku-Tytärsaari. The host-parasitoid relationship was studied in terms of host susceptibility and parasitoid virulence, addressing specifically the possible effects of inbreeding and local adaptation of both parasitoids and their hosts. I compared various factors such as host defence ratio, parasitoid development rate, cocoon production rate etc. I also conducted a small scale C. melitaearum egg development experiment and C. melitaearum external morphology comparison between different parasitoid populations. The results show that host resistance and parasitoid virulence differ between both host and parasitoid populations. For example, Öland hosts were most susceptible to parasitoids and especially vulnerable to Pikku-Tytärsaari wasps. Pikku-Tytärsaari wasps were most successful in terms of parasitoids virulence and efficiency except in Saaremaa hosts, where the wasp did not succeed. Saaremaa hosts were resistant except towards Åland parasitoids. I did not find any simple pattern concerning host resistance and parasitoid virulence between inbred and outbred populations. Also, the effect of local adaptation was not detected, perhaps because metapopulation processes disturb local adaptation of the studied populations. Morphological comparisons showed differences between studied wasp populations and sexual dimorphism was obvious with females being bigger that males. There were also interesting differences among populations in male and female wing shapes. The results raise many further questions. Especially interesting were Pikku-Tytärsaari wasps that did well in terms of efficiency and virulence. Pikku-Tytärsaari is a small, isolated island in the Gulf of Finland and both the host and parasitoids are extremely inbred. For the host and parasitoid to persist in the island, the host has to have some mechanisms to escape the parasitoid. Further research will be done on the subject to discover the mechanisms of Pikku-Tytärsaari host s ability to escape parasitism. Also, genetic analyses will be conducted in the near future to determine the relatedness of used C. melitaearum populations.
  • Nordling, Emilia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    During the last century increased emissions of greenhouse gases have caused global climate warming. While the temperatures are still rising, the largest increases have been observed in spring-time temperatures. This may affect the phenology of multiple species. If the increase in temperature affects different species differently, then the lifecycles of various species may become unsynchronized. For interacting species, a disturbance like this may be catastrophic: for example, if the phenology of host plants is drastically altered, then many herbivores may be left without food. Previous research on the effects of climate change on interspecific interactions has focused on bitrophic interactions. My research expands this past emphasis to a tritrophic level: to interactions between plants (penduculate oak, Quercus robur), herbivorous insects (moths: Tischeria ekebladella, Phyllonorycter quercifoliella and P. harrisella) and parasitoids (wasps in the family Eulophidae). Since bud burst in oaks varies significantly among individuals, I also investigated how host genotype may affect the synchrony between species. My hypotheses were that higher spring-time temperatures will disrupt the synchrony between species, and that this disturbance will affect the growth and reproduction of species at higher trophic levels. I also posited that the effects will vary with the genotype of the host. I tested these hypotheses in a field experiment running from April to September 2009. To manipulate temperatures I used a greenhouse, transplanting multiple oak-specific moth and parasitoid species to oaks of different genotypes growing inside and outside of the greenhouse. During the field experiment, the temperature differed by 3.19°C between the interior and the outside of the greenhouse. As a result, the phenology of all species was advanced in the greenhouse interior as compared to ambient conditions. Interpsecific synchrony was affected differently in different species pairs: Inside of the greenhouse, the synchrony between oaks and Phyllonorycter moths and between oaks and parasitoids was decreased. The synchrony between oaks and the moth T. ekebladella remained unaffected. Likewise, the synchrony between moths and parasitoids was left intact. The larvae of T. ekebladella grew bigger inside of the greenhouse than outside of it. In addition, a second generation of T. ekebladella occurred inside of the greenhouse, but not under ambient temperatures. Host plant phenology had a significant effect on associated insects: moth larvae of T. ekebladella grew bigger on oaks sprouting leaves early in the season. This increase in performance suggests that moth larvae prefer old leaves. In summary, my study shows that climate change may affect different species and different interspecific interactions in highly different ways. My study also upsets the previous view that mature oak foliage would offer food of inferior quality to moth larvae. In addition, it depicts host plant genotype as a less prominent determinant of insect performance than has been previously assumed.
  • Tentke, Annika (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This project was about the molecular mechanisms involved in the generation of eicosanoids in human mast cells with particular emphasis on lipid bodies as a source and/or site of lipid mediator biogenesis. The cells to be used are isolated from human peripheral blood provided by Finnish Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service and collected from healthy donors. Human mast cells are found in connective tissue. They contain granules filled with histamine, heparine and proteases. Human mast cells are potent effector cells in host-defense mechanisms of innate immunity, including inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis. Activation of mast cells by different stimuli triggers the release of a huge range of mediators, including de-novo synthesized eicosanoids, which are highly biologically active lipid mediators. The major eicosanoid released by activated mast cells is prostanoid prostaglandin D2 (PGD2). The aim of this project was to find out whether mast cell lipid bodies are the cellular compartments of PGD2 synthesis, what are the enzymes involved in AA liberation from TGs, and whether TG-derived AA is a source for PGD2 production. The enzymes of special interest were hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) and adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL). We were also interested about hematopoietic prostaglandin D synthase (HPGDS), the key enzyme in the production of D and J series of prostanoids. Methods used in this pro gradu work include siRNA transfections, RNA isolation, cDNA synthesis, qPCR, immunoblotting, ELISA and conventional fluorescence microscopy. Immediate increase in the amount of PGD2 released from mast cells sensitized with human IgE (1µg/ml) and activated by polyclonal rabbit anti-human IgE (1µg/ml) was observed. The increase was most prominent after one hour of activation, and slowly decreased to basal levels at 48 h post-activation. siRNA transfection affected the amount of enzyme DNA in mast cells and the amount of PGD2 released. HSL, ATGL and HSL+ATGL double knockdowns all reduced the amount of PGD2 released in acute (5 to 30 minutes) term activation compared to control cells. However, no significant changes were observed in the mRNA expression levels of ATGL, HSL, CGI-58, HPGDS or COX-1 under mast cell activation. The only significant changes in mRNA expression levels were observed with COX-2. However, the relative expression of HPGDS increased in IgE treated mast cells compared to control treated cells and the expression was even greater in mast cells treated with αIgE also. Both ATGL and HPGDS were recognized throughout the cytosolic area in the non-activated Ctrl cells. Although HPGDS located also in the circumference of mast cells, no clear localization of HPGDS was observed in the circumference of mast cell lipid droplets. The experiments carried out at the Wihuri Research Institute, including those presented here, have established that, in addition to phospholipids, the triglycerides present in mast cell lipid droplet core are also an important source of eicosanoids, and that also ATGL and HSL, not just cPLA, can release arachidonic acid for eicosanoid production. The ramifications of this study include the possibility that arachidonic acid release from triglycerides for the formation of eicosanoids could take an indirect or a direct route to supply precursors for cellular eicosanoid biosynthesis. The key is the pathway of AA release. In the direct pathway, AA is released from LD TGs by ATGL or HSL and this free AA is used for the generation of PGs by either COX-1 or COX-2, depending on the status of the cell. In the indirect pathway, AA is liberated from LD TGs by ATGL or HSL and then further re-esterified into phospholipids from where AA is then finally released by cPLA2 for the generation of eicosanoids.
  • Kettunen, Henna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Elinympäristön vaikutusta eliölajien esiintymiseen voidaan tutkia habitaattimallinnuksen keinoin. Havainnot lajin esiintymisestä ja puuttumisesta eri kohdissa maisemaa suhteutetaan tilastollisen mallin avulla ympäristötekijöihin, jolloin saadaan kuva lajin elinympäristövaatimuksista. Tällöin oletetaan, että laji esiintyy kaikkialla siellä, missä sen elinympäristövaatimukset täyttyvät. Metapopulaatioteorian valossa näin ei kuitenkaan aina ole: maisemassa voi olla runsaasti lajille soveltuvia mutta asuttamattomia kasvupaikkoja, koska uusien yksilöiden leviäminen ja vanhojen häviäminen eivät välttämättä ole yksittäisten kasvupaikkojen tasolla tasapainossa. Siten myös lajin leviämiskyky vaikuttaa siihen, millaiseksi sen levinneisyyskuvio maisematasolla muodostuu. Tässä työssä keskityn tammen (Quercus robur) alueellisen levinneisyyden mallintamiseen. Tammen suhteellinen harvinaisuus Suomessa sekä sen rooli luonnon monimuotoisuuden merkittävänä tukipilarina tekevät siitä mielenkiintoisen kohdelajin ekologiselle tutkimukselle. Tutkimuskohteekseni valitsin Wattkastin saaren, n. 5 km2:n alueen Länsi-Turunmaalta. Wattkastissa on tutkittu kahdeksan vuoden ajan tammella elävien hyönteisyhteisöjen rakennetta ja kannanvaihteluita, ja saaressa kasvaa yli 1800 luonnonvaraista tammea, joiden tarkat sijainnit tiedetään. Tässä ympäristössä tutkin, rajoittaako tammen alueellista levinneisyyttä ensisijaisesti sopivien elinympäristöjen tilajakauma vai pikemminkin sen leviämiskyky. Yhdistin tammen esiintymiskuviota kuvaavaan habitaattimalliin kokeellisen aineiston, jonka avulla arvioin tammen paikallisen esiintymiskuvion ja tammelle soveltuvien elinympäristöjen tilajakauman vastaavuutta. Kokeellisen aineiston muodostivat 104 Wattkastiin vuonna 2004 istutettua pikkutammea, joiden selviytymisen ja kasvupaikkaolot kartoitin syksyllä 2009. Tutkin yleistetyillä lineaarisilla malleilla puiden menestymiseen siis selviytymiseen ja kuntoon vaikuttavia tekijöitä. Etsin potentiaalisia selittäjiä tammen menestymiselle kasvupaikan ympäristötekijöistä sekä istutetun puun sijainnista suhteessa luontaisiin tammikasvustoihin. Lisäksi tutkin habitaattimallin avulla, selittävätkö ympäristötekijät tammen nykyisen esiintymiskuvion Wattkastissa. Havaitsin, että istutetut puut olivat selviytyneet keskimäärin hyvin ja ettei niiden menestyminen riippunut sijainnista suhteessa luontaisiin tammikasvustoihin. Habitaattimallin selitysaste oli vain 19 %, eli kasvupaikkatekijät selittivät heikosti tammen nykyisen esiintymiskuvion Wattkastissa. Tulosten perusteella tammen paikallinen esiintymiskuvio ei vastaa sille soveltuvien elinympäristöjen jakaumaa maisemassa, joten tammen levinneisyyttä Wattkastissa rajoittaa ilmeisesti sen leviämiskyky. Tulokseni viittaavat siihen, ettei tammen elinympäristön laadussa ole suuria vaihteluita Wattkastin sisällä, koska sopivia kasvupaikkoja on tarjolla tammen nykyesiintymiseen nähden runsaasti. Tämä on tammihyönteistutkimusten kannalta kiinnostava tulos, koska se tarkoittaa, että aiemmat havainnot isäntäpuun sijainnin ja hyönteisten kannanvaihteluiden välisestä yhteydestä edustavat todellisia, tilaan sidottuja populaatioprosesseja eivätkä isäntäpuun välittämiä eroja elinympäristön laadussa. Lisäksi tutkimukseni osoittaa, että yhdistämällä habitaattimallinnukseen kokeellinen lähestymistapa saadaan realistisempi kuva lajin levinneisyyttä rajoittavista tekijöistä kuin tutkimalla pelkästään ympäristötekijöiden vaikutusta lajin esiintymiseen. Jos lajin rajoittunut leviämiskyky on vaikuttanut sen esiintymiskuvion syntyyn, pelkästään ympäristötekijöihin perustuva levinneisyysmalli liioittelee levinneisyyttä. Kokeellisen tutkimuksen avulla on tällaisessa tapauksessa mahdollista paljastaa myös leviämiskyvyn rooli esiintymiskuvion taustalla.
  • Ahvenainen, Terhi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that causes involuntary muscle movements, deteriorates muscle coordination and cognitive decline. Typical onset age of the disease is in mid age, although a juvenile form of HD is also known. The disease is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner via a mutation in the huntingtin gene (HTT). The characteristic mutation in HTT is an expansion of the glutamine stretch at the 5 end of the gene. Excessive amounts of glutamine residues alters the conformation and chemical features of the huntingtin protein (HTT) leading to accumulation of cellular aggregates. Although to date there are several known alterations in the cell that contribute to the disease, the pathogenesis of HD is not fully understood. Ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) dismantles proteolytically unneeded or damaged proteins, which are targeted to proteolysis when ubiquitin tags are added to them. Deubiquitinating enzymes (DUB) recycle ubiquitin molecules by releasing them from proteasome substrates. Recycling of ubiquitin is critical to a cell as it maintains the free pool of the targeting molecule. Ubiquitin-specific protease 14 (USP14) is one of the DUB family enzymes and its distinctive function is to remove ubiquitin molecules from the tip of the ubiquitin chain and thus antagonize protein degradation. Although the specific function of the protein is unclear, it seems that USP14 operates as a fine regulator of protein turnover rate and in ER stress both in catalytic and non catalytic manner. The role of USP14 is especially emphasized in the nervous system, as it regulates synaptic transmission and neuronal development. Although it is suggested that dysfunction of UPS is involved in the pathogenesis of HD, the role of USP14 in the disease remains to be unknown. IU1 is a novel inhibitor of the catalytic domain of USP14. Studies with IU1 indicate that inhibition of USP14 enhances the clearance of aggregate prone proteins. The approach of this thesis was aimed to elucidate the routes of HD pathogenesis from diverse approaches. The general aim of the thesis was to investigate the role of USP14 in the wild-type PC6.3 cell model, and in the pathogenesis of HD by expressing HTT proteins with different lengths of glutamine stretches in PC6.3 cells. The specific aim of the study was to examine by western blot and microscopy analysis the pathogenic routes of HD that involve ER stress, oxidative stress, autophagy and mutant HTT aggregate dynamics. The function of USP14 was studied with overexpression of USP14, or by inhibiting its catalytic activity by IU1. The findings of this thesis show that overexpression of USP14 enhances the clearance of mutant HTT aggregates, and this effect is obtained in catalytic activity dependent manner. I show that upregulated USP14 is connected to improved clearance of mutant HTT and inhibition of autophagy, suggesting that the degradation is mediated via UPS. The catalytic activity of USP14 might also be important in ER stress regulation, as the results indicate that IU1 activates phosphorylation of both JNK and eIF2α. I was also able to establish a connection between USP14 and GADD34, as I show that GADD34 upregulates USP14. Finally, I show that catalytic inhibition of USP14 decreases the expression of antioxidant SOD2. The data in this thesis is lacking statistical significance, and it can be considered solely as a guideline. However, together these results indicate that the deubiquitinating activity of USP14 increases survival in PC6.3 cells in both a healthy and a HD model.