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We offer state-of-the-art technology platforms and expertise in the areas of genomics, proteomics and imaging as well as viral vectors, x-ray crystallography and bioinformatics. These core facilities operate within the Biocenter Finland national infrastructure network providing services for local as well as national and international scientists.

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News

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 11:40

Academy of Finland awarded Tapio Lönnberg (Finnish Functional Genomics Centre) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 280 000 € for 2017-2020

 

Academy of Finland awarded Tapio Lönnberg (Finnish Functional Genomics Centre) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 280 000 € for 2017-2020

 

Single-cell Atlas of human follicular T helper cells in Health and Disease

Generation of protective antibodies results from collaboration of two types of cells: B-cells and Follicular T helper cells (Tfh cells). Tfh cells can be further divided into several subsets, some of which are associated with autoimmune disorders. However, the full extent and functional implications of this subset diversity remain incompletely understood. To date, Tfh cells have been difficult to study in human due to their diversity and localization in lymph nodes.

We are exploiting novel methods enabling the determination of functional states of single cells by measuring gene expression. This allows us to target those rare Tfh cells, which have migrated from lymph nodes to peripheral blood, and are therefore accessible to sampling. By comparing cells from healthy volunteers and Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, we aim to identify disease-associated subsets of cells, providing new targets for therapeutic interventions.

Friday, June 9, 2017 13:15

Academy of Finland awarded Guillaume Jacquemet (Ivaska lab) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 259 054 € for 2017-2020

 

Academy of Finland awarded Guillaume Jacquemet (Ivaska lab) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 259 054 € for 2017-2020

Myo10 filopodia and cancer metastasis
The formation of metastases is responsible for 90% of deaths in patients with solid tumours. Consequently, there is a pressing need to develop therapeutic strategies that block the ability of cancer cell to disseminate throughout the body. We and others have made an intriguing discovery that cancer metastasis is associated with the development of specialized cellular protrusions called filopodia. In migrating cells, filopodia are “antenna-like” protrusions, which contain cell-surface adhesion receptors, such as integrins, responsible for constantly probing the cellular environment. At filopodia, integrins modulate signalling pathways that support cell migration, survival and proliferation. Integrins are transported to filopodia via a motor protein called Myosin-X, a regulator of filopodia formation. Based on our breakthrough experiments, we discovered that myosin-X contribute to cancer cell metastases in vitro and in vivo models and that myosin-X is highly expressed in patient samples (including breast, pancreatic, colorectal, glioma and lung carcinoma) where it correlates with poor prognosis. These results clearly indicate that myosin-X is a promising novel target for anti-cancer therapies. Data I accumulated to date clearly demonstrate that myosin-X-mediated transport of integrins, together with integrin signalling in filopodia are two important prerequisites for cancer metastasis. Therefore, I aim to develop strategies to target myosin-X in cancer by 1) generating myosin-X-specific small molecule inhibitors in collaboration with the non-profit organization CD3 (University of Leuven), 2) identifying the regulatory mechanisms by which myosin-X transports integrins to filopodia and 3) assessing the role of Myo10 filopodia in in vivo dissemination of cancer cells using intravital microscopy. If sucessful, our findings will lead to the development of a drug that can inhibit Myo10 function in cancer and thus provide novel and desperately needed therapeutic strategies for treating metastatic pancreatic and breast cancer as well as other cancer forms.

Friday, June 2, 2017 10:50

Academy of Finland awarded Maria Georgiadou (Ivaska lab) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 261 109 € for 2017-2020

 

Academy of Finland awarded Maria Georgiadou (Ivaska lab) with Academy Postdoctoral Fellow funding 261 109 € for 2017-2020

Project title: Cell metabolism and Tyrosine phosphorylation as novel regulators of integrin activity.

Project description: Integrins are cell adhesion receptors playing essential roles in health and disease, by regulating cell migration, survival, proliferation, differentiation. Integrins are expressed at the plasma membrane both in a low-affinity “inactive” state and in a high-affinity “active” state. Integrin activation leads to enhanced signalling and inappropriate integrin activation has been linked to several diseases, including cancer. Hence, understanding how integrin activity is regulated is of major clinical relevance. In an effort to identify novel integrin activity regulators Johanna Ivaska’s laboratory (host laboratory) has performed RNAi screens in several cancer cell lines. In those screens the metabolic sensor AMP-kinase (AMPK) and many other genes involved in metabolism were identified as potential regulators of integrin activity. The aims of the project are twofold: (1) to identify the cellular signalling pathways involved in ?1-integrin tyrosine phosphorylation and their role in integrin activity and matrix formation in fibroblasts; and (2) to characterize the role of metabolism in regulating integrin activity, migration and invasion in cancer cells.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 12:19

Researchers invented a tools to decode and control signalling circuits in living cells with flashes of light

 

Researchers at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology have invented new tools to decode and control signalling circuits in living cells with flashes of light. In principle, any cellular circuit can now be targeted with their method. Using this approach, they discovered that major biological signalling circuits can be made to resonate when driven at their resonant frequency.

Resonance is a familiar concept in music, physics and engineering and underlies technical approaches in chemistry, biology and medicine.
– Our discovery that signalling circuits of mammalian cells can made to resonate, is new and is likely to have relevance to disease. With this information we may control, when the signalling pathway is on or off, senior researcher Michael Courtney from Turku Centre for Biotechnology says.

The team developed optogenetic inhibitors of protein kinases such as JNK, a central regulator of cell function.
– JNK protein in the cell cytoplasm was not thought to regulate gene expression in the nucleus and continuous inhibition in the cytoplasm is ineffective. However, the team found that delivering a specific frequency of inhibition pulses to JNK in the cytoplasm drove inhibition of gene expression in the nucleus. This indicates that cell signalling circuits can be controlled in previously unforeseen ways once the appropriate time-code has been identified, Courtney says.

He explains that not only might cell circuit resonance play an unexpected role in degenerative disease processes, but it could even guide the discovery of new therapeutic approaches. Interestingly, the only previous report on cell circuit resonance in the scientific literature showed it can be used to prevent microbial cells from growing. The new finding of similar behaviour in mammals suggests it could potentially be used to stop cancer cells growing.

– Currently, the development of resistance to new drugs is a major problem in cancer, as new drugs cost billions of dollars to develop and approve and yet they can rapidly become ineffective in patients. With new research, we can perhaps consider to change the frequency of inhibition instead of using the same drug continuously, and in this way, achieve a better outcome, Courtney says.

The Turku team’s newly discovered phenomenon of circuit resonance in mammalian cells might offer a way to avoid or work around drug resistance. The researchers have now assembled a research consortium which has applied for funding to begin the evaluation of this idea.
The team started developing the light-regulated tools while at the University of Eastern Finland funded primarily by the Academy of Finland Photonics programme. The mammalian circuit resonance was discovered and characterised by the team after moving to the University of Turku, with support from the Turku Bioimaging Screening Unit and grants from the National Cancer Institute in US, the EU-Marie Sk?odowska Curie programme and Finnish foundations including the Magnus Ehrnrooth, Alfred Kordelin, Instrumentarium and Orion Foundations.

This work was published in the journal Nature Communications on the 12th of May 2017.
Original publication: Melero-Fernandez de Mera RM1, Li LL1, Popinigis A, Cisek K, Tuittila M, Yadav L, Serva A, Courtney MJ (2017) A simple optogenetic MAPK inhibitor design reveals resonance between transcription-regulating circuitry and temporally-encoded inputs. 1equal contribution. Nat. Commun. 8, 15017 doi: 10.1038/ncomms15017.
Read the article: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15017

More information: Senior Researcher Michael Courtney, University of Turku, Turku Centre for Biotechnology, tel. +358 (0)504649827 , e-mail miccou@utu.fi

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 11:15

Academy of Finland awarded Laura Elo with Academy Research Fellow funding 434 500 € for 2017-2022

 

Project title: Tools to translate proteomes to human health and diagnostics

Development of robust, versatile and easy-to-use computational tools is crucial to translate the emerging proteome data to patient benefits. Despite advances in proteomics measurement technologies, a common problem in most protein biomarker studies remains that the findings cannot be validated in new studies. This project addresses this challenge by developing a robust computational framework for proteome data that uses longitudinal follow-up data over time and is widely applicable on different types of proteome data, including the emerging fields of single cell proteomics and metaproteomics. By combining multidisciplinary expertise in statistical and machine learning methods, proteomics technologies and clinical research, the project is anticipated to accelerate the development of improved diagnosis, prognosis and treatment strategies for complex diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The computational framework will be useful in a wide range of medical applications.