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Browsing by study line "Genetik och genomik"

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  • Viitanen, Arto I. (2019)
    The intestinal stem cells (ISC) are responsible for the regeneration of the intestine epithelial barrier after acute injury and for the replenishment of its cells overall. How the ISC activation and resulting proliferation is controlled is complex and still under study. The ISCs of the midgut, which is the functional analogue to mammalian small intestine, are also highly responsive to changes in nutrition, and with proper methodologies it is possible to study the effects of diet on stem cell activation. The metabolic flux of the nutritional components of the diet can then shed light on which metabolic pathways are necessary for nutrient-dependent proliferation. One nutrient that has garnered interest is glutamine (Gln). It is well established that glutamine supplementation can in parenterally fed patients diminish intestinal barrier atrophy, extend the time the patient can be kept under the regime, and increase survivability of critically ill patients. Consequently, glutamine or its downstream metabolites may have stem cell activating characteristics. However, the exact regulatory mechanisms and specific effects of Gln are not well known, and studies have found contradictory results on the beneficial effects of Gln supplementation. Glutamine itself is a conditionally essential amino acid that has a variety of functions: it is an important source of nitrogen and cellular energy and contributes carbon into the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) and is involved in protein and nucleotide synthesis. In this thesis, the effects of Gln supplementation on the cell populations of D. melanogaster were studied via microscopy and computational analysis. Cross-breeds of fruit fly were established to lineage label the ISC with a GAL4/UAS driver system. Confocal microscope was used to image the midguts which were then analysed with Imaris software. A novel analysis method was developed to study population changes and varying features of the cells in the midgut in an unprecedented region-by-region bulk analysis. Earlier studies into nutrient control of ISC have had limited focus within the midgut and might have consequently given a restricted view of ISC activation. This new Longitudinal Analysis of Midgut (LAM) can be utilized in a diverse set of further studies to describe conditional variation within midgut, and possibly other tissues. Gln was found to increase total cell numbers to comparable levels with well-fed midguts, and to drive limited endoreplication in enterocytes. Lineage labelled cell population grew primarily in the R3 and R4 regions of the midgut. Additionally, enteroendocrine cells (EE) were greatly increased in the posterior part of R3 but had conceivable minor increases along the whole length of the midgut. Improved nutrition was also found to affect the proportions of the midgut, presenting itself as elongated posterior and stunted anterior. Overall, the pipeline and analysis method established during this study enable more expeditious research of effects of other nutritional components and allows for study of effects of other mechanisms, for example how gene knock-downs or altered gene activities affect cell populations of the midgut.
  • Nihtilä, Julia (2021)
    Henoch-Schölein purpura (HSP) is a vasculitis of small vessels and its characteristics include abnormal accumulation of IgA immunocomplexes on vessel walls as well as abnormal glycosylation patterns of IgA. HSP is an autoimmune disease like inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The genetic background of HSP has not been studied in Finnish population before, and only one genome-wide association study has been conducted for HSP before. Therefore investigating the Finnish genetic associations of HSP on a genome-wide level is of value. In this study the genetic background of HSP is studied with genome-wide association analyses performed on 424,041 genotyped SNPs passing quality control, HLA alleles imputed from the SNPs, and for their allele-level HLA protein sequences with the aim of replicating previous HSP associations in a Finnish cohort. There were 46 HSP individuals and 18,757 controls (216 bone marrow donors and 18,541 blood donors) passing quality control and included in the study. R package HIBAG was used for HLA imputation, and SPAtest package was used for the association analyses. In the association analyses, a region in chromosome 6 passed genome-wide significance (SNP with the smallest p-value: p 6,57 x 10-10, OR 0.14[0.1-0.2]) and the region contained both predisposing and protective associations. Of HLA alleles, DQB1*05:01, DQA1*01:01 ja DRB1*01:01 surpassed genome-wide significance level (p values 4,99 x 10-9, 1,04 x 10-8 and 2,37 x 10-8, respectively) and were positively associated with HSP. Five amino acid positions were significantly associated with HSP (p-values 3,9 x 10-10, 7,37 x 10-9, 1,26 x 10-8, 1,69 x 10-8 and 2,41 x 10-8), being both protective and predisposing to HSP. In addition, the genetic background of HSP was compared with that of IBD by comparing their GWAS results of genotyped SNPs, HLA alleles and their protein sequences. There were 49 IBD patients after quality control, and the same controls as for HSP (18,541 individuals) were included in the association analyses of IBD. The diseases seem to share some of their genetic background. According to the results, HSP seems to associate primarily with HLA class 2 and the result is also compatible with previous studies linking HSP to this region. The results also replicate previous GWAS findings in HLA class 2. According to this it is likely that the same HLA alleles are notable genetic factors in both Finnish and Spanish populations. The connection between HSP and IBD could potentially have to do with intestinal microbes aiding the onset of autoimmune diseases in genetically susceptible hosts.
  • Pezzutto, Denise (2019)
    Antimicrobial resistance is an emerging concern at the global scale, threatening the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating bacterial infections. Among anthropogenically impacted environments, wastewater treatment plants have been indicated as possible reservoirs of antibiotic resistance genes, putative hotspots for their horizontal gene transfer, and a source of their dissemination to the environment. Generally, the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes is reduced during the wastewater treatment process. However, some genes were shown to be enriched in purified effluent water and dried sludge, which are then released to the environment, compared to influent water. Also, the taxonomy of the hosts carrying antibiotic resistance genes could change as a result of horizontal gene transfer events. The aim of this study was to analyse and compare the host range of a series of antibiotic resistance genes in influent water, effluent water and dried sludge collected from the Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant in Helsinki, Finland, by applying Emulsion, Paired Isolation and Concatenation PCR (epicPCR). EpicPCR is a method that can link a gene of interest to the 16S rRNA gene from the genome of the host bacterium, without any cultivation step. The abundance of the hosts was also evaluated by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene from the whole bacterial community. In several cases, the target antibiotic resistance genes (blaIMP, blaNDM, ermB, ermF, sul1 and strB) were carried in effluent water and dried sludge by taxa that were not hosting them in influent water, suggesting that horizontal gene transfer events might have occurred during the treatment. All the examined genes were detected both in abundant and in rare taxa, including genera that also comprise pathogenic species, such as Arcobacter and Acinetobacter. Some of the detected hosts were not previously known to show resistant phenotypes, namely members of the family Methylophilaceae. These results corroborate the idea that wastewater treatment plants might be hotspots for the horizontal gene transfer of resistance determinants, and potentially disseminate antibiotic resistant pathogens to the environment. However, in order to ensure the accuracy of the results, the limits of epicPCR as a method need to be identified and addressed.
  • Natraj Gayathri, Swethaa (2024)
    The TTN gene is composed of 364 exons (363 coding) and encodes for titin, the largest protein in nature. Pathogenic TTN variants result in a wide spectrum of skeletal muscle and cardiac disorders known as Titinopathies. These differ in inheritance patterns, onset age, disease course and severity. The biological mechanisms underlying disease-causing variants specific to titinopathy patients are still elusive. Investigating gene signatures causing the biological pathomechanisms is crucial for understanding genotype-phenotype corelations. RNA-sequencing emerges as a valuable technique for analysing transcriptomic data and exploring gene expression profiles of patient and control samples. To elucidate common pathomechanisms in titinopathies, including adult tibial muscular dystrophy (TMD) due to heterozygous FINmaj variant, and biallelic recessive titinopathies, an extensive differential gene expression (DGE) analysis was conducted using three RNA cohorts from human muscle biopsies. The cohorts involved two polyA enriched and one rRNA depleted batch-corrected cohort. Human DGE analysis identified 265 commonly upregulated genes and 147 commonly downregulated genes in the titinopathy cohorts. A significant downregulation of TTN expression levels was observed in one of the cohorts. To validate and understand the biological significance of these findings, data from a mouse model was incorporated with homozygous Ttn FINmaj variants. Common genes among all cohorts accounted for the structural integrity of the extracellular matrix. This study indicates the pathomechanisms for a skeletal muscle pathology and discusses the future steps in efficiently performing RNA-Seq for titinopathies.
  • Abbas, Salma Magdy Hussein Jr (2024)
    Elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), hypercholesterolemia, is characterized by complex and poorly understood genetic contributions. Cellular LDL uptake mediated by the LDL receptor is pivotal to disease progression. After LDL internalization LDLR is recycled to the plasma membrane. Genetic mutations are known to exist in factors driving LDLR recycling but their contribution to hypercholesterolemia is not known. SNX17 has been postulated to be important for LDLR recycling. The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of SNX17 on cellular LDL uptake and to evaluate whether functional characterization of SNX17 gene variants can be performed. At the same time, adjusting an existing semi-automated analysis pipeline to generate expression constructs for SNX17 genetic variants. In this study, using an SNX17 knock-out cell line and an SNX17 rescue cell line (SNX17 knock-out cells transfected with GFP-SNX17 construct), it was shown that SNX17 might have a role in LDL uptake. The semi-automated workflow for generating genetic variants was successfully adopted to SNX17, warranting further experiments to define the optimal conditions for the functional characterization of SNX17 gene variants. This thesis sets the foundation for a deeper understanding of SNX17 in LDLR recycling and provides first insights into the potential regulation of this pathway, while also initiating the way for the later characterization of SNX17 variants. Hence, functional genomic studies together with the functional characterization of genetic variants in LDLR recycling factors can improve our understanding of how genetic variation contributes to disease progression and develop better risk assessment tools.
  • Savelius, Mariel (2020)
    Breast cancer remains as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is one of the most aggressive breast cancer subtypes and lacks targetable receptors, consequently, cannot be treated with current hormone of anti-HER2 targeting therapies. Thus, there is a need for discovering novel and well-tolerated therapies. MYC is a proto-oncogene and a transcription factor, that is frequently amplified and overexpressed in breast cancers. MYC is involved in many cellular processes promoting cell proliferation, however, overexpression of MYC can also sensitize cells to replicative stress and apoptotic cell death. In our previous studies we have shown that pharmacological activation of AMPK, a cellular energy sensor, synergises with Bcl-2 family inhibitors, such as navitoclax and venetoclax, and activates MYC-dependent apoptosis in breast cancer cell lines, transgenic mouse models of MYC-dependent mammary tumorigenesis and in MYC-high patient-derived explant cultures (PDECs). In subsequent study we observed, that indirect AMPK activator metformin alone inhibited tumor growth in vivo, but did not induce apoptosis in mouse tumors or in PDECs. Metformin, a type II diabetes mellitus drug, has shown anti-cancer effects in some population studies and is under investigation for a cancer therapies, however the whole mechanism of action in cancer is still not well-known. To elucidate metformin’s effects on MYC overexpressing triple-negative breast cancer cells, I will present, that metformin has anti-proliferative effects and show that long term metformin treatment induces senescence biomarkers in MYC-high TNBC breast cancer cell lines. To study metformin's short and long-term anti-proliferative activity, cell proliferation during and after drug treatment was investigated, which showed, that metformin’s effects do not seem to persist long after drug withdrawal. In conclusion, the key observation of this thesis was, that metformin does inhibit the proliferation of MYC overexpressing cancer cells and presents a senescence phenotype that possibly can be exploited to find new targeted therapies for triple-negative breast cancer patients.
  • Vakkari, Eeva (2021)
    The wide distribution of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) in boreal forests and the outstanding properties of its wood have made it an economically significant resource at the forest sector. The highly valued chemical and mechanical properties of Scots pine wood are related to heartwood, a specialized tissue forming the innermost part of a mature trunk. Decay resistance of Scots pine wood is largely defined by heartwood extractives of which the stilbene pinosylvin has the highest quality trait breeding interest. Pinosylvin concentration is a high-heritability trait that positively correlates with the heartwood decay resistance. Pinosylvin biosynthesis pathway is upregulated both developmentally at the mature tree transition zone between sapwood and heartwood and as stress response in various tissues of young trees. Identification of the regulators of pinosylvin synthase could speed up quality trait breeding providing a basis for variant screening in the natural populations and for analysing functional properties of the variants. Early genotyping would enable selection of the desired quality individuals before the start of developmental pinosylvin production and significantly accelerate breeding programs. Scots pine pinosylvin synthase PST-1 is proposed to be both stress-induced and developmentally regulated. Previous studies have identified several MYELOBLASTOSIS (MYB) domain transcription factors (TFs) that co-regulate with stilbene pathway transcripts under pinosylvin production inducing conditions or that have promising homologs in other species. In this study, eight Scots pine MYB TFs were examined in PST-1 promoter interaction studies using quantitative luciferase assay and yeast one-hybrid assay. This study aimed to clone the MYB coding sequences and confirm the integrity and MYB character of the proteins they encode, and to verify whether any of the MYB TFs are direct regulators of PST-1, and to characterize the regulatory functions of the MYB TFs as activators or repressors. This study identified one MYB TF as a direct regulator of PST-1 whereas the other studied MYB TFs did not bind the most promising MYB target elements in the promoter. The discovery of a direct regulator of pinosylvin synthase provides a potential marker for early selection making the finding highly valuable for quality trait breeding efforts. Additionally, another MYB TF was detected as a potential indirect regulator of pinosylvin biosynthetic pathway or as a regulator of neighbouring pathways suggesting that it would also be an interesting target for further studies. The MYB TFs were successfully cloned and seven out of eight MYB TFs were classified into MYB subfamilies. Tentative characterizations for the MYB TFs were presented based on the sequence analysis. The Gateway compatible vectors generated in this study will facilitate future experiments. The MYB coding sequences were incorporated in the verified entry clones ready-to-use in generation of other types of expression vectors. The MYB TF plant vectors could be directly used in Arabidopsis, as well. Two multisite Gateway compatible entry clones for N-terminal fusions to VP16 and SRDX transcriptional regulatory domains were generated for the plant expression vectors. The protocol developed for the 3’ fusion entry clones comprises of sequential polymerase chain reactions easily applicable for other cloning purposes. The yeast one-hybrid prey vectors could be utilized not only in another one-hybrid but also in two-hybrid studies. Several of the MYB TFs, including the PST-1 direct regulator, were hypothesized to interact with other types of TFs. The protein – protein interaction studies would detect possible co-factors involved in the MYB TF mediated regulation of Scots pine pinosylvin synthase. Identification of each member in the regulatory complexes would enable targeting the quality trait breeding efforts most effectively
  • Olkkonen, Emmi (2021)
    Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are over 200 bp long RNA molecules that are not translated into protein. LncRNAs can regulate the expression of protein coding genes, and studies have indicated their role in stress response. Stress response has also been associated with differences in the structure of the myelin sheaths in the mouse brain cortex. Myelin is produced by mature oligodendrocytes (OLGs), and therefore, OLGs are likely to play a role in stress response. The aim of this thesis was to find lncRNAs differentially expressed in the oligodendrocytes and myelin on the medial prefrontal cortex of stressed mice in comparison to controls. Mice of strains C57/6NCrl and DBA/2NCrl, differing in stress response, were exposed to chronic social defeat stress. After the stress paradigm, the mice were assigned as stress-susceptible or stress-resilient, the susceptible mice exhibiting anxiety-like behavior. RNA from OLGs and myelin from the medial prefrontal cortex of the mice was sequenced, and I compared the lncRNA expression levels between stressed and control mice and stress-susceptible and resilient mice using bioinformatic methods. I also assessed modules formed by lncRNAs and protein coding genes correlating in expression in both datasets. I used RT-qPCR to investigate if results from two differentially expressed lncRNAs, Gm37885 and Neat1, replicate in a stress hormone-treated oligodendrocyte cell line. Three hundred and seventy lncRNAs were differentially expressed between stressed mice and controls or stress-susceptible and resilient mice in the OLG dataset and 132 in the myelin dataset. Two hundred and 87 of them overlapped with a protein coding gene in the OLG and myelin datasets, respectively. Sixty-one percent of the differentially expressed lncRNAs were specific to comparisons in the OLG dataset and 73 % in the myelin dataset, but 39 % of the differentially expressed lncRNAs in the OLG dataset and 27 % in the myelin dataset were shared between them. No module of genes with correlating expression levels was associated with stress, but the expression levels of two correlation modules from each dataset differed between strains. The results for one of the differentially expressed lncRNAs, Gm37885, replicated in stressed Oli-neu cells in RT-qPCR. The results of my thesis indicate that multiple lncRNAs are involved in the mouse stress response, as many were differentially expressed and shared between phenotype comparisons. Additionally, significant gene expression differences were observed between strains, which could contribute to the previously reported strain differences in stress susceptibility. The results also suggest a specific role of Gm37885 in GR-mediated stress response. However, the function of Gm37885 remains unknown, and further studies regarding Gm37885 and the other differentially expressed lncRNAs should be carried out to draw conclusions of their contribution to the OLG-mediated stress response.
  • Tommila, Jenni (2021)
    Bacteraemia, the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream, may lead to severe and costly health issues. Sepsis, a serious complication of bacteraemia, is one of the top causes of mortality globally. Early and specific diagnostics as well as fast acting are essential in successful treatment. However, current diagnosis relies mainly on time-consuming blood culturing and clinical symptoms, which are unspecific for the causative agent. With the advanced technology and decreasing cost, state-of-art sequencing-based (Next generation sequencing) methods provide a new way to investigate the bacteria present. Metagenomics, which means sequencing and studying all DNA extracted from a microbial community sample, is widely used, but it only describes the genetic potential of a community and does not differentiate live from dead microbes. Metatranscriptomics, in which essentially all RNA from a sample is sequenced, provides information about expression and activity together with identification of viable bacteria, However, the high amounts of host cells and host RNA complicate the detection of bacterial transcripts from complex host-microbe samples. In this thesis, I investigated solutions for the efficient isolation and enrichment of bacterial RNA from whole blood to be used in sequencing and metatranscriptomics analysis. Firstly, I tested the capability of bacterial cell lysis of two commercial blood sampling tubes with Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis suspensions. Both tubes, Tempus and RNAgard, were able to lyse gram-negative E. coli cells and good-quality RNA was extracted in measurable quantities with their respective RNA extraction methods. With Tempus tubes the RNA yield was clearly higher. With gram-positive S. epidermidis, RNA quantities from both extractions were below the measurement limits indicating insufficient lysis and need for further optimization. Secondly, I investigated the depletion of polyadenylated (poly-A) transcripts in order to reduce the host transcripts and thus to enrich the bacterial transcripts prior to costly sequencing step. I evaluated the performance of a previously designed in-house protocol, based on the capture of poly-A -transcripts with oligo-dT -beads, and tested different parameters to see whether the depletion efficiency could be enhanced. Most significantly, the amount of oligo-dT -bead suspension was reduced to half from the original protocol. In-house protocols were also compared to a commercial solution, which they clearly outperformed. Depletion performances were tested with a RT-qPCR and dot blot assay, which I designed along this thesis work. Finally, to make the poly-A depletion better suited for blood samples infested with globin transcripts (representing up to 80% of all poly-A transcripts extracted from whole blood), I tested and successfully pipelined the leading commercial method for depleting globin transcripts with the in-house poly-A depletion protocol. The optimized sample preparation protocol provides a platform for further bloodstream infection and sepsis studies. Next steps of the process, such as sequencing and testing with clinical samples, are already ongoing with promising preliminary results. In the future, the metatranscriptomics approach can be utilized in fast and specific identification of the pathogens and their antibiotic susceptibilities. In addition, infection mechanisms and host-pathogen interactions may be studied possibly providing novel insights for sepsis diagnostics and treatment.
  • Bodington Celma, Silvana (2024)
    In the central nervous system, GABAergic neurons serve as the primary source of inhibitory signals. The study focuses on the GABAergic neurons located in the anterior brainstem, which play a pivotal role in modulating monoaminergic circuits critical for mood, motivation, and movement regulation. The development of the anterior brainstem GABAergic neurons relies on the activation of the Tal1 transcription factor (TF) in the neuronal precursors located in the ventrolateral part of rhombomere 1 (rV2 progenitor domain). The aim of the study was to investigate the regulatory mechanisms governing Tal1 expression. Specifically, the co-expression of potential upstream regulators of Tal1 in differentiating GABAergic rV2 neurons was validated using RNAscope® In Situ Hybridization. Findings demonstrated that the early post-mitotic TFs Sox4, Insm1, Ebf1, and E2f1 are not only co-expressed with Tal1 but also precede the activation of Tal1 expression. This supports a potential role for these genes in activating Tal1 expression and therefore influencing the acquisition of the GABAergic identity in the neuronal progenitors of the anterior brainstem. This research contributes to the understanding of the development and differentiation of the anterior brainstem GABAergic neurons.
  • Rinas, Anastasia (2024)
    Gerbera hybrida, a common ornamental plant, has natural resistance to fungal diseases. While there may be several bioactive compounds behind this trait, this master’s thesis focuses on two of them: gerberin and parasorboside. The gerberin/parasorboside biosynthesis has been profoundly investigated by Gerbera Laboratory at University of Helsinki. Gerberin and parasorboside are polyketide derivatives, a vast group of bioactive metabolites. The pathway that produces these compounds involves several enzymes: a polyketide synthase (PKS), two polyketide reductases (PKRs) and a glycosyl transferase. For gerberin to be synthesized, it requires presence of three enzymes: (1) G2PS1 (Gerbera 2-pyrone synthase 1) which initiates the chain by synthesizing the carbon backbone, and (2) an unknown first acting reductase, that continues the chain by reduction, lactonization, and (3) addition of a sugar molecule. Parasorboside production requires also a fourth enzyme, a reductase described by Zhu et al. (2022). This master’s thesis delves into post-modification of gerberin and parasorboside intermediates by the PKRs, which have not yet been verified. Until now, there has only been PKR-candidates for this position, derived from gerbera transcriptome library. The genes behind the proposed reductases were known from previous research. The objective of this master’s thesis is to demonstrate which of the proposed reductases coexpressed along with the G2PS1-reductase will produce the desired compounds (gerberin and parasorboside) in a model plant tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum in stable transformation and Nicotiana benthamiana in transient expression). The gene combinations were constructed into plasmids via PCR and Golden Gate cloning. Enzyme production was analysed by western blot and the secondary metabolites by HPLC. The hypothesis for this work was to produce the aglycones of gerbera’s natural products gerberin and parasorboside in the model plant tobacco via constructing the plasmids carrying our genes of interest. This master's thesis documents the successful construction of double and triple fusion plasmids, their integration into agrobacteria, and subsequent transformation into stably transgenic tobacco. Gerberin production in tobacco was observed with certain gene combinations, parasorboside production was not analysed yet in this work. Through meticulous work, the desired combination of genes for gerberin synthesis was identified in both agroinfiltrated plants with co-expressed genes and stable transgenic tobacco lines expressing genes from a single transcript cleaved by 2A-peptides.
  • Wanne, Vilma (2019)
    GRACILE (Growth Retardation, Aminoaciduria, Cholestasis, Iron Overload, Lactic Acidosis, and Early death) syndrome (Fellman disease, MIM603358) is a mitochondrial disorder that belongs to the Finnish disease heritage and follows an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. It is a lethal neonatal disease and the affected infants usually survive only a couple of days, but in some cases up to four months. The disease is very rare affecting about 1 in 47,000 infants in Finland. GRACILE syndrome is caused by a homozygous Finnish founder mutation (c.A232G) in the BCS1L gene, which encodes an assembly factor for the mitochondrial respiratory chain complex III. The missense mutation (c.A232G) causes an amino acid change (p.S78G) in the BCS1L protein. Alternative oxidase (AOX) is a terminal oxidase that is not naturally present in mammals. It enables the respiratory chain electron flow to bypass complexes III and IV. The AOX pathway works parallel with the respiratory chain and gets activated under stress conditions in plants and lower animals. In mitochondrial diseases with a complex III deficiency, such as GRACILE syndrome, AOX expression could alleviate the symptoms caused by the complex III dysfunction. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of AOX expression on early-onset manifestations of the disease in the Bcs1lc.A232G mouse model of GRACILE syndrome. The mice used in this study have a genetic background with a short survival to P35-40. The respiratory chain function in freshly isolated mitochondria from the liver and kidney was studied, as well as complex III activity, mitochondrial mass and liver and kidney histology. The findings of this study suggest that AOX has a strong beneficial effect on both liver and kidney histology and it is able to restore the glycogen stores to some extent, thus alleviating the glycogen depletion seen in the mice. The Bcs1lc.A232G mice also had an improved body weight in the presence of AOX, suggesting a less severe energy deficiency due to the activity of the AOX transgene. CI- and CII-linked respiration was also robustly improved in the liver. Overall, the condition of the Bcs1lc.A232G mice was improved by the presence of the AOX transgene compared to the Bcs1lc.A232G mice not expressing AOX. These results are highly encouraging for further studies on the rescue effects that AOX seems to have on this disease model.
  • Ciparyte, Auguste (2020)
    Diabetic ovarian cancer patients who take metformin as part of their anti-diabetic medication generally respond better to DNA-damaging cancer treatment. The molecular mechanisms of the anti-cancer effects of metformin are currently being investigated, but they remain poorly elucidated. Not much is understood about the metformin effect on DNA damage in ovarian cancer cells, where it is of particular importance. When chemotherapy-induced double-stranded DNA breaks are unrepaired, cells reach a point when they cannot tolerate the accumulated DNA damage and die. However, some ovarian cancer cells efficiently employ DNA repair mechanisms, the most prominent being homologous recombination (HR), to overcome DNA damage. Efficient HR causes chemoresistance. An important question is whether metformin has the ability to induce the HR-deficient state in cancer cells, thereby sensitizing them to treatment. This study did not examine HR directly, but it assessed HR indirectly by observing the effect of metformin on recovery from DNA damage in two ovarian cancer cell lines: OVCAR4 (HR-proficient) and Kuramochi (HR-deficient). Additionally, this study evaluated the metformin effect on cell proliferation and apoptosis. OVCAR4 and Kuramochi cells were exposed to varying metformin concentrations (0,5 mM, 5 mM, 10 mM, 15 mM, 20 mM and 25 mM) and for varying durations (24 hours and 48 hours). This study also tested how metformin pretreatment affected the cells’ ability to repair externally (ionizing irradiation) induced DNA damage. The cells were imaged with a high-content imaging system, and percentages of nuclei that were positive for markers for different cellular processes (i.e., DNA damage, proliferation, and apoptosis) were calculated. The study found that only high metformin concentrations, such as 20 mM were able to increase DNA damage and reduce cell proliferation in HR-proficient OVCAR4 cells, both non-irradiated and irradiated. The HR-deficient Kuramochi cell line was generally more sensitive to metformin, particularly with regards to DNA damage, which increased using metformin concentrations < 20 mM. However, 20 mM concentration resulted in the most significant effects. Similarly, only high metformin concentration (25 mM) increased apoptosis, although data were obtained only for a limited number of Kuramochi cells. More experiments on apoptosis would be beneficial. Also, more extensive experiments for the irradiation part are needed to validate these preliminary findings, as well as examining whether high metformin concentrations (> 20 mM) affect specifically the HR-mediated DNA repair pathway.
  • Lindfors, Iida (2024)
    Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) are rare mesenchymal neoplasms that arise from the interstitial cells of Cajal, the so-called pacemaker cells of the intestine. GISTs typically contain an oncogenic driver mutation either in the proto-oncogene KIT or platelet-derived growth factor receptor A (PDGFRA), which belong to the class III receptor tyrosine kinases. Patients with a high-risk or advanced disease are standardly treated with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib. Despite this molecularly targeted treatment, many patients experience disease relapse, after which the prognosis is poor. Personalised treatment is rarely offered to patients as a first-line treatment option, even though several targeted therapies have been approved for GIST. Increasing treatment personalisation could improve treatment outcomes, yet the lack of patient-specific research models for GIST hinders the research. Three-dimensional (3D) cell culture models are widely used in cancer research to study the molecular mechanisms underlying tumorigenesis. Their ability to mimic the tumour biology and microenvironment is superior compared to the traditional two-dimensional (2D) cell culture model. For several cancers, these cell culture models have also been researched as platforms for personalised treatment selection with promising results. This thesis project aimed to study UPM Biomedicals’ GrowDex-based 3D cell culture model as a potential platform for personalised treatment selection for GIST patients. GrowDex is a plant-derived hydrogel that resembles the extracellular matrix. Another aim of this project was to set up a Sanger sequencing protocol covering frequently mutated areas in GIST to facilitate the validation of this cell culture model through drug testing on patient samples. To assess the GrowDex microenvironment, the viability and proliferation of two GIST cell lines, GIST-T1 and GIST48 were monitored. Furthermore, the imatinib response of GIST-T1 in GrowDex was assessed and compared to the response in other cell culturing conditions. The Sanger sequencing protocol was optimised using the aforementioned cell lines and then applied to GIST patient samples. The results of this project demonstrated that GrowDex provides a suitable microenvironment for culturing GIST cells and supports their 3D growth. GIST-T1 cells were less sensitive to imatinib when cultured in GrowDex in comparison to the 2D culturing condition, which is likely explained by the 3D organisation of the cells. Finally, the Sanger sequencing protocol was used to uncover the KIT/PDGFRA mutation status of several GIST patient samples. In conclusion, these results provide important information for further development of this cell culture model with patient samples.