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Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences


Recent Submissions

  • Niemelä, Miska Aleksanteri (2022)
    Master's thesis project includes the backbone assignment of the human activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein C-lobe (hArc, Uniprot ID: Q7LC44), 7-fluoroindole-based tryptophan-labeling method, and comparing that with the 100% double-labeled and 20%(13C) fractionally labeled samples. The project focuses on the effects of 7-fluoroindole-based fluorotryptophan-labeling. hArc C-lobe has only one tryptophan, which makes the analysis easier. Typically fluorotryptophan-labeling is a costly method – fluorotryptophan itself is very expensive and attaching the fluorine to the tryptophan while expressing is expensive and complicated. Fluoroindolebased labeling circles around the problem, as indole and serine are used in procaryotic systems for tryptophan biosynthesis – meaning that fluoroindole, which is cheap, could be used as an alternative for previous methods. Fluoro-labeled tryptophan is used in protein NMR; for example, in binding studies – fluorine-probes are sensitive, and binding of ligand or protein would move these peaks, indicating binding. This project aims to get an insight into the application of this labeling method. The goal is to see if one could utilize one sample with both (1H, 15N, 13C) labeling and 7-fluorotryptophan labeling for binding and structural studies. However, fluorine is very electronegative, affecting surrounding structures and possibly sequentially nearby amino acids. This possible effect will be observed and determined by comparing the 1H15N-chemical shifts between well-established labeling methods and fluoroindolebased labeling. To determine what amino acids in the protein are affected, if they are affected, will be determined by using the backbone assignment results and the results from the sample comparisons.
  • Kontio, Salla (2022)
    Spontaneous and voluntary movements of infants effectively reflect the developmental integrity of brain networks. When it comes to the research of motor development, the use of intelligent technology has shown to provide objective, automated, and scalable methods for movement assessment. In addition to intelligent technology, research on the usage of surveys – in this case parental surveys – has looked at the untapped potential that parental viewpoint. Guardians have a unique and holistic image of the child’s development, thus data from parental surveys could be used to further help us to assess infant’s development. For this study, I studied how the parents’ time estimate on the positions their child spends time in holds up against the machine-learning based data obtained with the smart jumpsuit. Using the data acquired from the smart jumpsuit during the recordings, we can see the amount of time the child spends in each position. Aim was to study the relationship between these variables and gain further understanding on the utilization of parental perspective in the assessment of motor development. Data was collected from 19 video recordings and videos were annotated with Anvil video annotation software for child’s posture and movements, and the annotations were used for training a machine learning-based classifier of the smart jumpsuit. Only data regarding postures was extracted for further analysis. Parental surveys were carried alongside of recordings. In the survey of parental estimate, we asked the parent to assess how much time the child spends in a specific posture. Positions which the survey focused on were prone, supine, side, sitting, crawling, and standing. Data from the recordings as well as data from parental surveys were visualized with radar plots. In addition, correlation was visualized in a linear regression. Positions which had both correlation of higher than 0.5 and a significant p-value were sitting (p < .001**), crawl posture (p < .05*), standing (p < .001**), and supine (p < .05*). Results suggested that parents were successfully assess the time spent in following postures: sitting, crawling, standing, and supine. This indicates that parents have a holistic understanding of their child’s motor development, and the knowledge could be useful in the overall assessment of development, especially when it comes to children with developmental delay. The parent’s ability to accurately assess a child’s motor development helps the parent support the child’s development.
  • Mielikäinen, Lotta (2022)
    Sex determination in humans occurs via the sex chromosomes, X and Y. Females carry two X chromosomes while males are XY individuals. Due to this X chromosome distribution the expression of X-linked genes is balanced with a process called X chromosome inactivation (XCI) where one of the X chromosomes is silenced, selected either randomly or preferentially, in early female embryogenesis. X-linked disorders are more prevalent in males as, generally, in females the effects of a disease-causing variant in other of the X chromosomes can be compensated with the normal allele on the other X whereas male express the allele on their only X chromosome. However, cases of heterozygous females manifesting an assumed recessive X-linked disorder have been reported although the symptoms are usually milder in these cases than in males. One suggested reason behind this is a skewed XCI where the majority of female’s cells express the mutated allele. The main goal of this thesis was to examine how often heterozygous female carriers have symptoms of X-linked disorders. To achieve this goal, likely pathogenic and pathogenic X-chromosomal variants were retrieved from the ClinVar database and their global allele frequencies were examined from The Genome Aggregation Database (gnomAD). The genetic and phenotypic data of 500,000 individuals from the UK Biobank (UKB) were used to conduct genetic association analyses between the ClinVar variants and quantitative traits related to their reported phenotypes. The associations were tested in males and in females separately to allow for examination of sex-specific effects and inheritance models via the comparison of effect sizes. 89 (likely) pathogenic variants were detected from UKB, and the majority of these were extremely rare with minor allele frequency below 0.01% in the global population. 11 and 27 of them were selected for the association analyses for the male and female populations of UKB, respectively, after filtering out variants that did not meet requirements such as enough carriers. One to five quantitative traits were chosen for each variant resulting in 28 tests among males and 87 among females. These analyses showed few significant associations while the majority of the tested variants were observed to have no effects on the chosen trait. The most statistically significant association was observed with variant rs137852591 on the gene AR (androgen receptor) in males. The variant was related to lower muscle mass and shorter height that are associated partial androgen insensitivity syndrome reported in ClinVar for this variant. Nominally significant associations were seen with this variant and the same traits in heterozygous females suggesting that there might be, indeed, symptoms of the syndrome in females as well. Additionally, in both sexes variants on gene G6PD seemed related to traits that are characteristics of glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. The limitations of these databases must be taken into account when conducting studies utilizing them. However, this thesis demonstrated that heterozygous female carriers may have symptoms of X-linked disorders assumed to have recessive inheritance pattern. In the future, a wider set of phenotypes could be used to investigate the impacts of the X-linked variants more broadly.
  • Häkkänen, Iina (2022)
    Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common types of cancers, encompassing approximately 10 % of all cancer cases worldwide. Regulation of cell proliferation and cell fate decisions is crucial for maintaining cellular homeostasis and preventing CRC initiation, a process in which the Wingless (Wnt)/β-catenin signalling pathway is known to play an important role. For instance, somatic mutations occurring in the Apc gene lead to aberrant activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, which further leads to the accumulation of β-catenin into the nucleus where the TCF/LEF transcription factors, including TCF1, TCF3, TCF4, and LEF1, bind β-catenin to activate downstream Wnt target genes and promote CRC development. TCF1 is encoded by the gene Tcf7 that can be alternatively spliced to produce long (p45) and short (p33) isoforms whose function in CRC development has remained poorly understood. Previously, deletion of Tcf7 has been found to increase intestinal adenoma formation in mice with one mutated Apc allele (ApcMin/+), which are predisposed to development of multiple intestinal adenomas. To study how heterozygous deletion of the p45 isoforms affects intestinal adenoma formation and the cellular transcriptome, we have studied ApcMin/+ mice, which have a heterozygous mutation of Tcf7 gene encoding only the p33 isoform (AmTp45∆/+). In our study, we used immunohistochemistry and RT-qPCR together with a single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) analysis. Heterozygous deletion of the p45 isoforms in the ApcMin/+ mice dramatically increased the numbers of intestinal tumours, spleen size and its white pulp areas but it had no effect on cell proliferation or expression of the Wnt-target gene Prox1 in intestinal adenomas. In addition, ApcMin/+ mice with both heterozygous p45 and Lef1 deletions developed significantly more intestinal tumours. Without the Apc mutation, neither of these mouse models developed intestinal adenomas or spleen abnormalities. RT-qPCR analysis showed decreased expression of Tcf7 in the small intestine of the AmTp45∆/+ mice. scRNA-seq analysis revealed that the AmTp45∆/+ mice downregulated various Wnt antagonists and stem cell markers and upregulated several genes that function in different metabolic pathways. Overall, these results support the concept that Tcf7 functions in synergy with Apc to repress intestinal malignancy. Our results establish a basis for comparison of the relative importance and specific functions of the TCF/LEF1 family members in CRC development.
  • Gómez Sánchez, Celia (2022)
    Kv7.1 is a potassium ion channel comprised of the KCNQ1 protein, which can coassemble with distinct β-subunits modulating the channel functions in different tissues. In 2017, Raivio’s group (from the University of Helsinki) found two missense mutations in the KCNQ1 gene, p.(Arg116Leu) and p.(Pro369Leu), responsible for causing pituitary hormone deficiency and maternally inherited gingival fibromatosis. The facial features and bone structure pointed to a cranial neural crest (CNC)-derived phenotype caused by an alteration in the potassium channel balance, given that these cells form the bone and cartilage of the cranial zone. To understand the implication of the CNC in the KCNQ1 syndrome, I attempted to replicate the CNC differentiation protocol of Suga and Furue (2019) with the aim of obtaining cranial neural crest cells (CNCCs). This would enable future generation of a KCNQ1-related disease model. The differentiation process was carried out thrice, and two BMP4 concentrations (10 and 100 ng/ml) were assayed. The differentiated cells exhibited a CNC-like morphology as well as upregulation of the marker genes (TFAP2A, SOX10, DLX1, MSX1, and DLX2) associated to this cell lineage. However, the gene expression was low according to the qRT-PCR Ct values, which were in most cases higher than 30. Additionally, no differences were found between the two BMP4 treatments. Furthermore, the cells did not express KCNQ1, and thus the impact of the two KCNQ1 mutations was not investigated under this protocol. In conclusion, the protocol had a low efficiency in the generation of CNCCs that was not improved by increasing the BMP4 concentration. Further optimization of the protocol, such as the BMP4 concentration or the cell density of the culture, will be needed to improve its efficiency and obtain an adequate disease model.