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Browsing by discipline "General Microbiology"

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  • Kanerva, Sonja (2019)
    Increased intestinal permeability and its role in autoimmune, metabolic and chronic intestinal diseases is under extensive research as the “leaky gut” is considered as a potential target for preventive and therapeutic strategies in wide range of diseases. Zonulin, an eukaryotic analogue of Vibrio cholerae derived Zonula occludens toxin, which induces tight junction disassembly, has recently become a popular serum-based biomarker of intestinal permeability in biomedical research, even though the link between serum zonulin levels and functional measures of intestinal permeability has never been validated properly in humans. In addition, surprisingly little is known about the location and regulation of zonulin expression in the humans despite the protein was discovered almost two decades ago. Zonulin, also known as pre-haptoglobin-2, is an uncleaved precursor form of haptoglobin that is abundantly expressed in the liver. Zonulin, in turn, based on studies on rats, rabbits and monkeys, is expressed in the small intestine and stimulated by exposure to bacteria and gliadin, but no other stimulators have been described so far. It is also unclear, if different bacteria can induce different responses in zonulin secretion as only the effect of gram-negative enterobacteria has been documented so far. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of selected intestinal bacteria and of two known upregulators of haptoglobin, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), on zonulin secretion in vitro. The impact of two gram-positive probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG & Bifidobacterium bifidum) and of two commensal gram-negative bacterial strains (Escherichia coli DH5α & Escherichia coli RY13) were tested for zonulin secretion in HT-29 intestinal epithelial cells, in addition to IL-6. Two separate lineages of immortalized human hepatocytes were tested for zonulin secretion by stimulation of LPS and IL-6. In addition, different immunological methods were assessed for quantification of zonulin, as the potential cross-reactivity of our primary analysis method, a commercial zonulin ELISA kit from Immundiagnostik AG that is also the main method used in the published zonulin studies, became more evident at the beginning of this thesis project. The main findings of this study were that the widely used commercial zonulin ELISA from Immundiagnostik AG is not specific for zonulin, but instead cross-reacts at least with complement C3, in line with the results published by other group during this work. Our further experiments comparing the signals of the above-mentioned zonulin ELISA and complement C3 ELISA for serum samples showed that there was only weak correlation between the obtained signals, suggesting that the zonulin antibody does not directly bind to complement C3. By using dot blot, western blot and immunoprecipitation, we found that the cross-reaction only occurred in native conditions. Based on zonulin ELISA measurements of the cell culture media from the in vitro experiments, very low signal was obtained for both intestinal and hepatic cells. Among the tested bacteria, only exposure to Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG led to a significant increase in the release of target protein. In hepatic cells, LPS had no effect, while IL-6 led to a significant increase of zonulin ELISA signal in one of the tested hepatic lines. However, it is currently difficult to differentiate if the low detected “zonulin” levels in this study are due to low level of secretion, or rather due to the lack of a proper method to detect zonulin. Taken together, these observations suggest that the most commonly used zonulin ELISA and other related, commercially available antibody-based methods for zonulin detection should be utilized with caution, as these antibodies cross-react with other protein(s). Hence, the serum “zonulin” cannot be considered as a biomarker of intestinal permeability until the captured protein(s) are identified, and similarly the anticipated effects of intestinal bacteria on zonulin expression cannot be reliably investigated with the currently available antibodies.
  • Holappa, Katri (2018)
    Staphylococcus aureus is a commensal bacterium in humans and approximately 30% of healthy people carry it as part of their microbiome, in the nasal cavity and skin, without any harm. However, it is an opportunistic pathogen that causes severe infections in immunocompromised and hospitalized patients. Typical infections caused by S. aureus are wound and skin infections, pneumonia and urinary tract infections in people with a medical implanted device such as for example a catheter. S. aureus has gained resistance to virtually all antibiotics over the years of excessive antibiotic consumption, making treatment nearly impossible in some cases. MRSA, methicillin resistant S. aureus, is a worldwide problem in hospitals and the mortality rate is still rising. One of the most common MRSA lineages is USA300, a community-acquired MRSA, which is notorious not only for its antibiotic resistance but also for its ability to form prolific biofilms. Biofilm production combined with antibiotic resistance complicates treatment of S. aureus even further. A detailed understanding the molecular mechanisms of biofilm formation might bring us closer to a cure for infections caused by MRSA biofilms. The study comprised two parts. First, characterize the phenotype of the mutants under static and dynamic conditions, test the minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC’s) for antibiotics and verify the gene knockout by real-time RT-PCR. Second, study gene function by transduction to the parental strain USA300-UAS391 EryS and a MRSA strain TCH1516 EryS to study the gene function in a different bacterial background. The methods used were cell culturing for static and dynamic biofilm as well as growth curve, fluorescence microscopy, antibiotic susceptibility testing and real-time RT-PCR. In total seven strains were selected for characterization. The chosen seven knockouts were ΔHAD (HAD-superfamily hydrolase, subfamily IA, variant 1), non-coding region, ΔausA (non-ribosomal peptide synthetase), ΔoppA (Oligopeptide ABC transporter substrate-binding protein), ΔclfB (clumping factor B), ΔampA (cytosol aminopeptidase), and ΔpgsA (CDP-diacylglycerol--glycerol-3-phosphate 3-phosphatidyltransferase). General characterization showed a few changes in biofilm formation for the genes ΔoppA, ΔausA, ΔHAD and ΔpgsA. Especially ΔpgsA is interesting because of increased ciprofloxacin resistance. The real-time RT-PCR showed some altered gene expression patterns, but no connection to poor biofilm formation. With fluorescence microscopy the growth patterns of USA300 transposon mutant strain biofilms could be described. To verify the results of the characterization, further experimentation is needed, such as RNA sequencing and complementation. Also expanding the studies to other gene hits of the screening is recommended.
  • Alburkat, Hussein (2019)
    LCMV Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus is a rodent-borne pathogen belongs to Arenaviridae family. Most of the studies have referred Mus musculus as the main reservoir of the LCMV. It has been detected in pet rodents, laboratory rodents, and wild mice. Humans be infected with LCMV through the ingestion or inhalation of sources contaminated with rodent feces, urine, or both. LCMV infection can be asymptomatic, present with mild symptoms, or it can cause aseptic meningoencephalitis (AME) and teratogenic effects in infants. However, clinical cases of LCMV infection have been rarely reported, and there is only fragmental knowledge on the presence and prevalence of LCMV infections around the world. Likewise, the genetic characteristics of the circulating LCMV strains and impact of LCMV on public health have remained poorly characterized. This study was performed in the Southern Iraq, due to the lack of comprehensive information about LCMV in this area. There were three main aims in this thesis. First, to assess the prevalence of LCMV among the healthy human population in the Nasiriyah region, southern Iraq. Second, to assess whether LCMV infections can be associated with neurological manifestations. Third, to characterize the genetic variation and evolutionary history of LCMV strains circulating in southern Iraq. Serum and CSF samples were collected from patients and healthy people in Nasiriyah governorate in the Southern Iraq. Serum samples were screened for LCMV using Immunofluorescence assay (IFA) to detect IgG and IgM antibodies. Real-time PCR was used to detect LCMV genome. In order to confirm the PCR positive samples, we sequenced these samples by Next-generation sequencing. The serological assay results showed 12.22% IgG prevalence of LCMV among healthy people and 7.36% IgG prevalence among patients with neurological symptoms. The IgM prevalence was 1.25% among the patients with acute infections. From symptomatic patients, we sequenced partial L-segments of two new LCMV strains. The phylogenetic tree constructed on the basis of all known LCMV strains suggested that these new LCMV strains from Iraq are genetically distant from the previously known LCMV strains and form a novel sub-cluster within LCMV species. This study is the first survey of LCMV in the Southern Iraq. LCMV appears to be a rather common infection in Iraq. I reported new strains of LCMV that are circulating in the study site and most likely is the causative agent of the central nervous system-associated clinical manifestations in these patients. For future work, I’m aiming the detection of other Arenaviruses spreading in the Southern Iraq.
  • Virtanen, Kira (2019)
    In addition to Chlamydiaceae, eight novel families have been discovered to belong to the phylum Chlamydiae. The eight families are Parachlamydiaceae, Waddliaceae, Criblamydiaceae, Parilichlamydiaceae, Rhabdochlamydiaceae, Simkaniaceae, Clavichlamydiaceae and Piscichlamydiaceae.These families are phylogenetic relatives to Chlamydiaceae, share the intracellular developmental cycle and are widely distributed in nature and are therefore referred to as environmental Chlamydiae or Chlamydia related bacteria (CRB). CRB have a broad range of potential hosts. All families except Criblamydiaceae cause disease in animals and infect for example fish, arthropods and cattle. Families Parachlamydiaceae, Waddliaceae, Rhabdochlamydiaceae and Simkaniaceae are also shown to cause respiratory disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes in human. Free-living amoebae (FLA) are natural hosts of some CRB. CRB are able to survive and replicate inside of FLA that offers protection and nutrients for CRB. It has been suggested that CRB are transported to new environments inside of FLA. CRB DNA has previously been found on human skin (Hokynar et al. 2016, Hokynar et al. 2018, Tolkki et al. 2018) and in our water distribution system. CRB distributed to our tap- and shower water systems inside of FLA (Thomas and Ashbolt 2011) could be a potential rout of transmission of CRB DNA to human skin. As the diversity and size of the CRB group is large and CRB are very laborious to grow in vitro, it is challenging to detect CRB and to study their pathogenicity. Detection of CRB in clinical and environmental samples is mainly based on PCR methods. A non species-specific PCR method targeting Chlamydiales 16S rRNA (PanChl16S), that in theory amplifies all known CRB, has successfully been used in detection, but post PCR sequencing of the amplicon is required to identify the species. Also, more specific quantitative PCRs have been designed to detect specific families or species of Chlamydiae. However, the volume of clinical specimens available is often limited and allows only few separate analyzes. Due to the challenges identified with detection of CRB, efficient multiplex PCR assays would save time and resources and would be useful tools when detecting CRB DNA. The objective of the work was to explore the possibility of applying multiplexed analyzes to a limited specimen volume effectively. One aim of this thesis was to set up two multiplex PCR assays for detection of seven different CRB and a multiplex PCR for detection of three different FLA. Another aim of the work was to analyze the possibility of CRB to be transported to human skin from our water distribution system inside of FLA. In this thesis we set up two multiplex PCR assays for detection of CRB reference strains P. acanthamoebae, C. sequanensis, S. negevensis, Protochlamydia spp., Rhabdochlamydia spp., W. chondrophila and E. lausannensis. We also set up two PCR assays for detection of three different FLA reference strains: Acanthamoeba spp., Vahlkampfiidae spp., and V. vermiformis. We succeeded in developing two real-time multiplex PCR assays for detection of CRB DNA and two real-time PCR assay for detection of FLA DNA. Variability between replicates for each PCR target was low and the detection limit (100%) for each target ranged from 50-500 control plasmid copies per PCR reaction. The R2-value for each target was ≥0.98 and the reaction efficiency for each target ranged from 82-111%. Samples collected from showerheads (n=18) and water filters (n=2) as well as skin swabs (n=27) were studied with these newly established assays and PanChl16S PCR. The results obtained with the multiplex assays developed in this study were similar to the results obtained with the PanChl16S. CRB DNA was detected in 67% of the showerhead samples, in 100% of the water filter samples and in 31% of the skin swabs. Amoebae DNA was detected in 80% of the showerhead samples. Our results confirm earlier observation that Chlamydiae DNA is frequently observed in human skin swabs and suggest that CRB could be transported to human skin from our water distribution system inside of FLA.
  • Jokinen, Maija (2019)
    Parvoviruses are among the smallest known viruses. The parvovirus genome is a single stranded DNA, approximately 5 kb in size. The virion has a small (20 to 30 nm), rugged, non-enveloped icosahedral capsid. Parvoviruses can cause a number of diseases. Possibly the most recognized human parvovirus is parvovirus B19 (B19V), which can cause the so-called fifth disease, anemias and fetal death. Another relatively well characterised parvovirus is human bocavirus 1 (HBoV1), which causes respiratory tract infections in young children. Bufavirus (BuV) tusavirus (TuV) and cutavirus (CuV) are emerging parvoviruses, discovered during the years 2012-2016 using next generation sequencing methods. All three viruses were originally discovered in feces of patients suffering from diarrhea. BuV was originally found in Burkina Faso and has since been detected in fecal samples with polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods from Europe, Asia and Africa. The seroprevalence of BuV differs between countries. TuV was found in a single stool sample from Tunisia, but no further reports of it have since emerged. CuV was found in 2016 and it has been linked to cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, but it is not known if the virus is the cause of the cancer or if the virus simply prefers quickly dividing cancer cells for its replication. BuV, TuV and CuV belong to the Protoparvovirus genus, but it is still unclear whether TuV is a human pathogen. More research is needed to study the epidemiology of these viruses and their role in illnesses. There were two main aims in this thesis: to set up an IgM µ-capture enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for human protoparvoviruses using BuV1 as an example and to screen three stool sample cohorts for BuV, TuV and CuV using an in-house multiplex quantitative PCR (qPCR). The IgM EIAs developed for B19V and HBoV1 was used as the base for developing human protoparvovirus IgM EIA, using Virus-like particles (VLP) as antigens. Setting up the EIA required a great amount of optimization and finally troubleshooting, since the assay did not work as expected. The troubleshooting revealed that the ambiguous results in the IgM µ-capture EIA were possibly due to degraded VLPs or that the sensitive µ-capture format requires extremely carefully purified VLPs. More optimizing is needed for this assay, however, the work done in this thesis offers a good base for further development of protoparvovirus IgM EIA. All three viruses were found in the stool samples during multiplex qPCR screening. Based on the qPCR and sequencing results one sample was positive for BuV DNA, one sample for TuV DNA and a total of 12 samples for CuV DNA. This is the first time TuV DNA has been found since its discovery. In addition to that, CuV DNA was identified in fecal samples for the first time since the discovery, previously CuV DNA had been found mostly in skin biopsies. As for TuV, based on the parvovirus phylogenetic analyses, its sequence is more closely related to rodent parvoviruses than CuV or BuV. More research is needed, possibly with animal and human samples, to establish the role of TuV as a human virus.
  • Mäkelä, Mirka (2015)
    Archaea are known to thrive in different kinds of extreme habitats. Halophilic archaea are found in environments where the salt concentration is high, like in salt lakes and solar salterns. The habitats of halophilic archaea have salt concentration varying from higher than sea water to the saturation of salt. In high salinity habitats, the biodiversity is typically low and archaea are dominant microorganisms. The cell density of haloarchaea can be up to 107 cell/ml.When there are no predators for archaea and other halophilic microbes, viruses are thought to be the driving agents for their evolution. To this date, 130 archaeal viruses are described and 90 of them are known infect halophilic archaea. Most of the isolated haloarchaeal viruses are head-tailed. These head-tailed viruses can be divided into three different groups by the properties of the tail structure. Those three types of head-tailed viruses are myo-, sipho- and podoviruses. The infection cycles, receptors or lysis mechanisms used by archaeal viruses are still poorly known. Few studied archaeal viruses use seemingly similar strategies to attach to the surface of the host cell, to penetrate the cell surface and to release new virions, as bacteriophages and viruses of eukaryotic cells do. Since archaeas differ so much from eukaryotic or bacterial cells, their viruses must have developed different strategies to carry out their infection cycle. Several filamentous viruses of archaea are known to attach to the pilus structures of their host cells and some of the enveloped archaeal viruses attach straight to the cell membrane of the host. These strategies are seemingly similar to those used by bacteriophages and viruses of eukaryotic cells. Strikingly different mechanism to release virions has been seen on SIRV-2, virus of a hyperthermophilic archaeon. The SIRV-2 infection induces pyramid shaped extrusions on the surface of the host cells. In the end of the infection cycle these pyramids open and release new virions from the cell. This is the first lysis mechanism described for an archaeal virus. In this work, the infection cycle of a head-tailed virus infecting extremely halophilic Haloarcula vallismortis was studied. The Haloarcula vallismortis tailed virus 1 (HVTV-1) is head-tailed siphovirus with a double stranded DNA genome. In previous studies the infection cycle of HVTV-1 is described to be lytic. The genome sequence, 3D-structure of the capsid and the major capsid protein of HVTV-1 is known. HVTV-1 infection has been seen to induce large, roundish structures on the surface of the infected cell. These structures may have a role in the course of the infection cycle. Several animal viruses are known to cause massive rearrangements in the host cell so that replication proteins, viral genome and the replication agents needed from the host are concentrated in specific locations. These rearrangements facilitates and enhances the viral replication. The roundish structures induced by HVTV-1 might play the same role as the virus factories of animal viruses do or these structures may be involved in the release of new virions in somewhat similar manner as those virus induced pyramid structures. In this study two main goals were set: 1.) To explore the adsorption of HVTV-1 in more details and see if the host cell receptor could be solved. 2.) To solve the possible role of the virus induced structure seen in the host cell and to find out, in which point of the infection cycle those structures appear. Based on this study, it can be said that the adsorption of HVTV-1 is efficient and very fast. The virus attaches to the archaella structures of the host cell and the attachment is mediated by the tail of the virus. One archaella may serve as a receptor for several viruses and they are not saturated. The intracellular phase of the infection cycle of HVTV-1 is long and the virus production starts 8 hours after infection. Virions are released when the host cells is lysed 12 hours after the infection. Two hours before the lysis, two virus induced structural changes of the cell are seen. The roundish structures at the surface of the cell and wide areas in the cytoplasm filled by a structure looking similar as lipid membranes. At the same time when the virus production begins, at least two virus induced or coded proteins are produced in the cell. The other one of these proteins was identified and it is predicted to be the virus encoded ribonucleotide reductase. Ribonucleotide reductase is an enzyme known to catalyse the synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acids from ribonucleic acids. If the ribonucleotide reductase is a part of seen structures, the timing of their appearance and the known function of the enzyme, could suggest those structures to play a role in the maturation or release of the virions. Many questions still remains and there would be lot more details to study in the HVTV-1 infection. Especially interesting would be the identification of the other virus induced protein, purifying those roundish structures and analysing them in more details.
  • Ojalehto, Tuomas (2016)
    Proteins responsible for homologous recombination are collectively called recombinases. They also have an important role in maintaining genome integrity. Recombinases are found in all three kingdoms of life. The first identified and characterized recombinase was RecA from Escherichia coli. Recombinases exhibit ATP hydrolysis coupled DNA-binding activity and strand exchange activities during homologous recombination. Homologous recombination produces new genetic combinations for evolution and general way to describe the different steps of homologous recombination is a DSBR model. Homologous recombination occurs in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells during meiosis crossover and horizontal gene transfer, respectively. The homologous recombination machineries are remarkably complex and synergistic and much is not known about detailed mechanisms for a majority of the species. More recently, recombinases have been used in isothermal nucleic acid amplification methods, mainly in recombinase polymerase amplification RPA and strand invasion based amplification SIBA. The aim of this study was to identify, clone, produce and analyze the functionality of novel recombinases from bacteria and viruses. The acitivity for single-stranded DNA binding and strand exchange was studied. The compatibility of the produced recombinases in strand invasion based amplification SIBA method was evaluated. Two recombinases from Enterobacteria phages T2 and RB69 were found to be functional and compatible in three SIBA assays.
  • Markkanen, Melina (2020)
    Constantly increasing level of bacteria becoming resistant to clinically relevant antibiotics challenges the modern medical achievements made over the past century. In global scale, one of the most significant information gaps concerning the occurrence of resistant bacteria is located in West African countries. Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli strains resistant to 3rd generation cephalosporins and carbapenems are a major risk to public health through infections with limited or no available treatment options. The resistance to these antibiotics among Enterobacteriaceae is mainly mediated by hydrolyzing enzymes such as extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL). The focus of this thesis is to study the genes encoding these enzymes and other resistance factors found in K. pneumoniae and E. coli isolated from human stool and waste water samples in Burkina Faso and Mali. Tree Enterobacteriaceae isolates were selected for whole genome sequence (WGS) analysis based on their phenotypic resistance profiles defined by disk diffusion method. Reads were assembled to draft genomes and the genomes were studied for their antibiotic resistance genes, virulence genes and their associations to mobile genetic elements found in these isolates’ genomes. Additionally a pan-genome was created to investigate species specific features of K. pneumoniae and their role in heavy load of antibiotic resistance genes among these isolates. Pan-genome consisted of two genomes sequenced in this study and 12 genomes from the publically available database. 16-month old Burkinabe child was a carrier of one ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae (isolate Burkina_1) and one ESBL-positive E. coli along with the resistance to multiple other antibiotics. With genome wide analysis the K. pneumoniae strain could be described as sequence type (ST) 45 representing, multidrug resistant and ESBL-gene CTX-M-15 carrying strain with highly similar virulence gene profile to strains previously described as pathogenic K. pneumoniae causing neonatal sepsis. K. pneumoniae isolated from the stool sample of an adult living in Burkina Faso was found to be multidrug resistant, though non-ESBL-producer strain (isolate Burkina_2). The isolate showed no similarity to any previously described sequence type. CTX-M-15 encoding E. coli of ST38 (isolate Mali_1) carried by Malian child showed resistance to five different classes of antibiotics in addition to the 3rd generation cephalosporins. At the same time the isolate showed hybrid virulence gene profile with virulence genes associated to many different E. coli pathotypes including neonatal meningitis causing E. coli (NMEC). The exceptional plasticity of K. pneumoniae genome could be recognized as one of the putative explanations for the high number of resistance genes found among the isolates studied in this work. Antibiotic resistance genes were found to be associated to mobile genetic elements (MGE) and as the genetic plasticity is caused by the acquisition of external genetic material via MGEs such as plasmids, this can lead to indirect accumulation of resistance genes in these genomes. The results in this thesis work show alarming examples of pathogens that potentially cause severe infections, have extremely narrow or no treatment options and are carried by infants. These findings are in line with the few data about the level of faecal carriage of ESBL-producing strains by people in Burkina Faso and Mali reported previously.
  • Raza, Shaffaq (2020)
    Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), a member of TGF-β super family is a soluble cytokine that is associated with different pathological conditions including cancer, cardiac and renal failure and obesity. Its high serum levels are linked with symptoms like cachexia/anorexia in cancer patients and can be used as a marker for these diseases. Its crucial role in weight regulation and energy homeostasis has been demonstrated by treating obese mice with GDF15, which results in weight lose along with improved glucose metabolism and increased insulin tolerance. It is now known that GDF15 exerts its metabolic effect by binding to a GDNF receptor -α-Like (GFRAL) receptor along with co-receptor RET. Interestingly, these two receptors co-localize only in the brain stem area of mice and humans indicating involvement of a neuronal circuit in GDF15 mediated effects. Despite its implications in major health disorders, little is known about the interaction of GDF15 with its receptors and how this interaction in turn modulates different cellular signalling and functions. The aim of the thesis was to study the mechanism and factors involved in endocytosis of GDF15. I employed high content imaging and flow cytometry techniques to visualize and analyse the internalization of ligand-receptor complex and investigate the role of actin, dynamin and phosphoinositide 3 kinase in the process. The results suggest that similar to the internalization of other cellular growth factors, the uptake of GDF15 is affected by disruption of the actin cytoskeleton. The role of dynamin is still unclear. I also discovered that the internalization of GDF15 was inefficient even in cells that expressed the receptor GFRAL, with large cell-to-cell variation. By following the intracellular localization of the receptor GFRAL, my results revealed that the receptor GFRAL is not efficiently exported to the plasma membrane and most of the protein is retained in the Golgi compartment of cells. This phenomenon was stronger in murine fibroblast cells, where the receptor was almost exclusively trapped in the secretory compartment, explaining why the uptake of the ligand GDF15 is so inefficient in these cells. The system developed during this project will now be used to analyse different factors involved in the uptake of GDF15 and eventually uncover the possible endocytic pathway. Moreover, the Golgi retention of the receptor opens up new questions to investigate like whether the physiological function of GDF15 is regulated by receptor export signals. This will help deciphering the complex and mysterious interaction of GDF15 with its receptor GFRAL.
  • Suvanto, Maija Tellervo (2019)
    Sindbis virus belongs to the Alphavirus genus and it has spread around the globe. Sindbis virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and spread birds. Mosquitoes from Culex and Culiseta genera are able to spread Sindbis virus. In Finland game birds from Tetrao genus have been observed to act as host for Sindbis virus thus enabling viral amplification. In Finland Sindbis virus causes annual disease called Pogosta disease. Typically, Pogosta disease occurs from August to September. Symptoms of Pogosta disease include for example joint pain, arthritis, rash and fever. Pogosta disease is endemic in Finland and known endemic regions are e.g. Ilomantsi region. Even though Sindbis virus causes annual disease in Finland there is currently only six Sindbis virus strains isolated from Finland. These isolations were done in 2002 and in 2005. There is a need for new data. In this master thesis the aims were to describe how two new Finnish Sindbis virus strains were isolated and to compare them to each other and to other Sindbis virus strains isolated from Finland and around the globe. Mosquito samples were collected from Ilomantsi region in 2018 summer. Serum samples from serologically diagnosed patients with Sindbis virus infection were obtained from HUSLAB and included in this study. The mosquito and patient serum samples were cultivated on cells and later virus isolates were plaque purified. Conventional nested reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR) for Alphavirus and Bunyavirus genera were used in order to screen mosquito and patient serum samples for viruses. Later a Sindbis virus specific real time reverse transcriptase PCR was used to test mosquito and patient serum samples. Cell cultures were also tested with immunofluorescence assays. Isolated Sindbis viruses were sent for next generation sequencing and based on that a phylogenetical tree was constructed. The phylogenetical tree represents the new Sindbis virus strains relation to Finnish and to other Sindbis virus strains around the globe. Mosquito samples were morphologically identified and subjected to genetic species identification analysis via COI sequences. These COI PCR products were sent for Sanger sequencing and compared to sequences in NCBI database in order to determine the mosquito species. In this master thesis two new Finnish Sindbis virus strains were isolated from mosquito and from human serum sample. This is the first time in Finland when Sindbis virus has been isolated from human serum sample. These two new Finnish Sindbis virus strains differ from each other. The strain isolated from the patient sample is more closely related to German strains than to Finnish Sindbis virus strains. The strain isolated from mosquitoes is closely related to pre-existing Finnish Sindbis virus strain Ilomantsi region-2005M which is isolated from mosquitoes. These finding suggest that currently there is two different Sindbis virus strains circulating in Finland. This master thesis provides valuable information of Finnish Sindbis virus strains which can be used in future studies e.g. when studying Sindbis virus pathogenesis, distribution, relation to other Sindbis virus strains or mapping Sindbis virus prevalence in Finland.
  • Horsma-Heikkinen, Jenni (2020)
    The antibiotic resistance of pathogenic bacteria is becoming a major problem in treating bacterial infections and development of new antibiotics is very challenging. In traditional phage therapy the bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, are being used as an optional treatment to eliminate infectious agents. Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is resistant to several currently used antibiotics and is one of the most common antibiotic resistant bacteria causing infections. Therefore, it is a potential target for the phage therapy. Some of the Staphylococcus aureus strains produce several different enzymes and toxins which can be harmful to patients. Products developed for phage therapy purposes need be free from the material originated from host bacteria. In this study, three different methods were tested for the purification of bacteriophages infecting S. aureus. The main goal was to produce phage lysates with purity and phage concentration suitable for therapeutic purposes using a fast and aseptic procedure upgradable for large volumes. The tested methods were ultrafiltration with filter tubes from two different manufacturers (Sartorius Vivaspin 6 ja Merck Millipore Amicon Ultra 4), polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation and ion exchange chromatography. Three different bacteriophage strains were used. One was isolated from a commercial Russian phage therapy product (vB_SauM_fRuSau02) and the other two from feces of pigs (vB_SauS_fPf-Sau02 and vB_SauS_fPfSau03). Host bacteria strains for the first bacteriophage were S. aureus strains TB4 and 13KP originally isolated from human infections. Two host strains for the latter two phages were MRSA strains isolated from healthy pigs. Purification of the phage lysates was evaluated by measurement of enterotoxins produced by S. aureus bacteria, measurement of free double stranded DNA (dsDNA), and by cytotoxicity test in cell cultures. All evaluation methods were commercially available tests. To determine how much of the bacteriophages were lost in the process, the phage concentrations of the lysates were determined before and after the purification and recovery rates were calculated for the viruses. After two separate ultrafiltrations, the recovery rates of the bacteriophages were mainly good, but there was a lot of variation in the results. The lowest recovery rate calculated was 5%, the highest 57%, and the mean of all the rates 24%. In this study the ion exchange chromatography was combined with ultrafiltration which was used in pre-cleaning of the lysates and changing the phages in a buffer suitable for the chromatography. The recovery rates from the ion exchange chromatography varied between 14-26% but the results may be affected by the ultrafiltration steps performed before and after, since a lot of variation was seen in ultrafiltration processes. PEG precipitation was performed for one phage lysate only in order to compare the laboriousness of the method and the rates of the recovery to the other methods used. The rate of recovery from the PEG precipitation was 9,5% which was fairly low. The purity of this lysate was not evaluated since the method was estimated to be too laborious compared to the other methods. Ultrafiltration turned out to be an efficient method in the removal of small protein molecules, such as enterotoxins from bacteriophage lysates. With two sequential ultrafiltrations 96-99% of the enterotoxins in the lysates were removed. The removal of the free dsDNA was also successful but there was variation between the phage lysates. Approximately 67-93% of the free dsDNA was removed but it is possible that some of the measured DNA originated from lysed bacteriophages as their genome also consists of dsDNA. Ion exchange chromatography produced extremely well purified phage products. The fractions had no enterotoxins left or the amount was below the detection limit of the test (<0,5-1 ng/g). Ion exchange chromatography was able to remove 96-99% of the free dsDNA of the lysates. It is possible that some of the DNA left in the lysates originated from the bacteriophages lysed during the process or in storage after that. When comparing how simple and fast the methods were, the ultrafiltration turned out to be superior. It can be used in fast production of bacteriophage products for the treatment of S. aureus infections. The purification achieved with the ultrafiltration should be adequate for a topical use of the product. When higher purity products are required, e.g. for administrating the product intravenously, ion exchange chromatography might be a safer option.
  • Pulkkinen, Lauri (2018)
    Host factors play crucial roles in virus infections. Viruses exploit various cellular processes and are counteracted by an arsenal of host antiviral defenses. Characterization of these interactions is crucial for understanding the viral life cycle and developing novel antiviral treatments. Semliki Forest virus (SFV) is a positive-strand RNA alphavirus that has been used as a model virus for multiple clinically significant diseases such as lethal encephalitis. The aim of this thesis was to identify host factors that affect SFV infection to better understand the biology of SFV, and to provide candidate targets for therapies against more serious alphavirus infections. Here I have conducted follow up studies on a previously performed genome-wide siRNA screen that hinted that a number of genes have novel functions in SFV infection. I used an automated high-throughput imaging-based approach to confirm the roles of these host factors in SFV infection. For comparison, I also used a similar strategy to test if these genes affect negative-strand RNA virus infections, using vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). Additionally, I studied whether the host factors affecting SFV infections perform their roles in the entry and penetration, or post-penetration steps using a previously developed endocytic bypass assay. I identified the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transporter, SLC6A13, as a potential receptor for SFV. I also describe other novel genes that have roles in SFV or VSV infections. In addition, I show that TNP01, RPL18, ETF1, DMN2, and GNDPA1 promote, and HDAC6 counteracts SFV infection in the entry and membrane penetration steps. Furthermore, I report that in the later stages of the infection DDX54 boosts and EIF2B3, EIF4G1, PHB2, EDF1, DDX47, and DHX57 hinder SFV.
  • Merenheimo, Salla (2018)
    Nuorten kiinnostus luonnontieteiden opiskelua kohtaan on heikentynyt sekä Suomessa että kansainvälisesti ja nuoria hakeutuu luonnontieteellisille aloille yhä vähemmän. Samaan aikaan Eurooppaan tarvitaan yli 700 000 uutta tutkijaa. Eräänä syynä nuorten kiinnostuksen puutteeseen luonnontieteiden opiskelua kohtaan pidetään nuorten stereotyyppistä tutkijakuvaa. Tutkijakuvalla tarkoitetaan henkilön mielikuvia ja käsityksiä tutkijoista. Stereotyyppiseen tutkijakuvaan kuuluvat käsitykset laboratoriotakkiin ja silmälaseihin pukeutuneista miehistä, jotka työskentelevät laboratoriossa tehden kokeita ympärillään monenlaisia tutkimusvälineitä. Stereotyyppisen tutkijakuvan väitetään vaikuttavan negatiivisesti nuorten asenteisiin ja kiinnostukseen luonnontieteiden opiskelua kohtaan ja jopa heidän halukkuuteensa hakeutua opiskelemaan luonnontieteellisille aloille. Suomalaisten lasten ja nuorten tutkijakuvaa ei ole aiemmin kartoitettu. Tämän tutkimuksen tavoitteena oli selvittää suomalaisten lasten ja nuorten käsityksiä tutkijoista. Tutkimuskohteena olivat Helsingin yliopiston LumA-tiedekasvatuskeskuksen kesän 2017 tiedeleireille osallistuneet lapset ja nuoret (N=455). Tutkimuksessa selvitettiin sukupuolen, iän sekä tiedeleirin teeman yhteyttä leiriläisten tutkijakuvaan. Tutkimusmenetelmänä käytettiin kyselylomaketutkimusta, jossa vastaajat piirsivät omiin mielikuviinsa pohjautuvan kuvan tutkijasta. Piirroksia käsiteltiin määrällisenä aineistona. Jokainen piirustus analysoitiin tarkistuslistan avulla, johon listattiin kirjallisuudesta ja aineistosta nostettuja stereotyyppiseen tutkijakuvaan liittyviä piirteitä. Tulokset analysoitiin deskriptiivisellä analyysillä. Sukupuolten välisiä eroja tarkasteltiin khiin neliö -testien ja Mann-Whitneyn U-testin avulla. Iän yhteyttä tutkijakuvaan selvitettiin Kruskal-Wallis -testillä. Tutkimuksen luotettavuutta tarkasteltiin validiteetin ja reliabiliteetin avulla. Tutkimuksessa selvisi, että suomalaisilla lapsilla ja nuorilla on stereotyyppisinä pidettyjä käsityksiä tutkijoista, vaikkakin stereotyyppisiä piirteitä esiintyi piirroksissa vähemmän aiempiin tutkimuksiin verrattuna. Tyypillisimmät piirroksissa esiintyneet stereotyyppiset piirteet olivat työskentely sisällä, miestutkija sekä erilaiset tutkimuksen symbolit ja teknologiavälineet. Sukupuolella oli yhteys tutkijakuvaan tyttöjen piirtäessä merkitsevästi enemmän naistutkijoita ja hymyileviä tutkijoita kuin pojat. Vastaajan ikä ei ollut yhteydessä stereotyyppisten piirteiden määrään, toisin kuin aiemmissa tutkimuksissa. Leirin teema oli vahvasti yhteydessä niihin tarvikkeisiin, joita tutkijan ympärille piirrettiin. Tutkimuksessa havaittiin piirrosten tulkinnan olevan subjektiivista ja vaikuttavan tutkimuksen tuloksiin. Siten nuorten tutkijakuvaa tulisi jatkossa kartoittaa useiden metodien avulla. Tämä tutkimus antaa viitteitä tiedeleirien potentiaalista lasten ja nuorten tutkijakuvan muovaamisessa. Tutkimuksen tuloksia voidaan hyödyntää luonnontieteiden opetuksen kehittämisessä sekä formaalissa että nonformaalissa tiedekasvatuksessa: tiedostamalla nuoren oman tutkijakuvan muodostuminen voidaan opetuksessa tarjota oppijalle mahdollisuuksia muodostaa realistisempaa ja monipuolisempaa tutkijakuvaa esimerkiksi tutkijavierailujen ja toiminnallisten aktiviteettien kautta. Tämä voi lisätä nuorten kiinnostusta ja minäpystyvyyttä tutkijan uraa kohtaan.
  • Hietala, Ville (2018)
    Antibioottiresistenssi yleistyy infektioita aiheuttavien bakteereiden keskuudessa. Infektioita hoitaessa joudutaan siten miettimään uusia tapoja infektioiden parantamiseksi. Yhden vaihtoehdon tarjoaa bakteriofagiterapia. Siinä infektiota sairastavalle annetaan bakteriofageja, jotka infektoivat bakteereita, lisääntyvät niissä ja tuhoavat ne. Kirjallisuudessa on runsaasti lupaavia esimerkkejä tästä terapiamuodosta. Kuitenkin bakteriofagituotteiden on oltava tarpeeksi puhtaita, erityisesti siinä tilanteessa, jos niitä annetaan suonensisäisesti. Gramnegatiivisten bakteereiden tärkeä rakenneosa on lipopolysakkaridi eli LPS, joka ihmisen verenkiertoon päästessään voi olla vaarallinen. Siksi, mikäli bakteriofagit on tuotettu gramnegatiivisissa bakteereissa, LPS:t on kyettävä poistamaan näytteistä. Tässä Pro Gradu-työssä tutkittiin viidessä eri koejärjestelyssä, kuinka erilaiset tekniikat ja niiden yhdistelmät vaikuttivat bakteriofagien ja LPS:n määrään näytteissä. Lisäksi arvioitiin SDS-PAGE-geelissä näytteiden proteiinikoostumusta. Näytteistä mitattiin myös dsDNA-pitoisuus. Tutkitut tekniikat olivat ultrafiltraatio, anioninvaihtokromatografia, oktanoliuutto ja kaupalliset endotoksiininpoistotuotteet EndoTrap- ja Pierce high endotoxin removal-pylväät. Koejärjestelyssä 1 suodatettua bakteriofagilysaattia puhdistettiin ensiksi oktanoliuutolla, sitten ultrafiltraatiolla, anioninvaihtokromatografialla ja lopuksi uudella ultrafiltraatiolla. Endotoksiinipitoisuus laski eniten kromatografiassa mutta toisen ultrafiltraation jälkeen se pysyi varsin samana. Tiitteri pieneni vain oktanoliuutossa ja kromatografiassa (jossa osittain laimenemisen takia), kun ultrafiltraatioissa muutos edeltävään tiitteriin oli varsin pieni. Lopuksi näytteissä oli keskimäärin n. 15 EU (endotoksiiniyksikköä)/10^9 pfu (plaque forming unit). Toisessa koejärjestelyssä aloitettiin ultrafiltraatiolla ja sen jälkeen näytteet puhdistettiin joko EndoTrap- tai Pierce-pylväällä. Kaikki vaiheet poistivat endotoksiineita. Ultrafiltraatio pienensi hieman tiittereitä mutta EndoTrap-pylväs ei. Pierce-pylväässä tiitterin aleneminen oli huomattavaa, jolloin EndoTrap-pylvään jälkeen näytteissä oli keskimäärin 0,0574 EU/10^9 pfu ja Pierce-pylvään jälkeen 33700 EU/10^9 pfu eli suhde oli jopa enemmän kuin lysaatissa. Kolmannessa koejärjestelyssä aloitettiin ultrafiltraatiolla, jonka jälkeen oli kromatografia ja uusi ultrafiltraatio. Ensimmäisessä ultrafiltraatiossa tiitterit pienenivät jonkin verran mutta kromatografian ja toisen ultrafiltraation jälkeen se oli varsin sama, kuin ensimmäisen ultrafiltraation jälkeen. Endotoksiinipitoisuus pieneni taas eniten kromatografiassa ja se oli varsin sama toisen ultrafiltraation jälkeen, jolloin puhdistetuissa näytteissä oli keskimäärin 57,1 EU/10^9 pfu. Neljännessä koejärjestelyssä lysaattia ultrafiltroitiin ensiksi, sen jälkeen ruiskutettiin kromatografialaitteeseen, ultrafiltroitiin uudestaan ja sen jälkeen puhdistettiin joko EndoTrap- tai Pierce-pylväällä. 1. ultrafiltraatio pienensi taas hieman tiitteriä mutta se oli varsin sama EndoTrap-pylväällä puhdistetussa näytteessä. Pierce-pylvään kanssa tiitteri pieneni taas huomattavasti. Endotoksiinipitoisuudet pienenivät taas kaikissa vaiheissa, jolloin EndoTrap-pylväällä puhdistetussa näytteissä oli keskimäärin 0,0839 EU/10^9 pfu ja Pierce-pylväällä 5480 EU/10^9 pfu. Viides koejärjestely oli muuten sama, kuin koejärjestelyn 2 Pierce-pylväs järjestely mutta korkeamman NaCl-pitoisuuden eluutiopuskurilla ja suuremmalla näytetilavuudella. Tällöin tiitteri ei pienentynyt yhtä paljon, endotoksiinipitoisuus oli lopussa vain hieman korkeampi kuin koejärjestelyssä 2 ja loppuun asti puhdistetussa näytteessä oli keskimäärin 71,21 EU/10^9 pfu. SDS-PAGE-tutkimuksessa ja dsDNA-mittauksissa näkyi, että ultrafiltraatio yksin riittää poistamaan muut bakteeriperäiset proteiinit ja dsDNA:n. Tosin koejärjestelyssä 1 käytetty oktanoli saattaa vaikuttaa dsDNA:n puhdistumiseen ultrafiltraatiossa. Töissä onnistuttiin tuottamaan näytteitä, joissa sekä riitti bakteriofageja, että endotoksiinipitoisuus oli pudonnut huomattavasti. Kun huomioidaan käytännöllisyys ja nopeus, parhaaksi tavaksi puhdistaa LPS:t valikoitui ultrafiltraatio yhdistettynä EndoTrap-pylvääseen. Johtuen bakteriofagien ja LPS:ien monimuotoisuudesta, ei toisella bakteriofagilla välttämättä päästä samoihin