1000 resultados para Molecular Medicine


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Molecular techniques have a key role to play in laboratory and clinical haematology. Restriction enzymes allow nucleic acids to be reduced in size for subsequent analysis. In addition they allow selection of specific DNA or RNA sequences for cloning into bacterial plasmids. These plasmids are naturally occuring DNA molecules which reside in bacterial cells. They can be manipulated to act as vehicles or carriers for biologically and medically important genes, allowing the production of large amounts of cloned material for research purposes or to aid in the production of medically important recombinant molecules such as insulin. As acquired or inherited genetic changes are implicated in a wide range of haematological diseases, it is necessary to have highly specific and sensitive assays to detect these mutations. Most of these techniques rely on nucleic acid hybridisation, benefitting from the ability of DNA or RNA to bind tighly to complimentary bases in the nucleic acid structure. Production of artificial DNA molecules called probes permits nucleic acid hybridiation assays to be performed, using the techniques of southern blotting or dot blot analysis. In addition the base composition of any gene or region of DNA can be determined using DNA sequencing technology. The advent of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has revolutionised all aspects of medicine, but has particular relevance in haematology where easy access to biopsy material provides a wealth of material for analysis. PCR permits quick and reliable manipulation of sample material and its ability to be automated makes it an ideal tool for use in the haematology laboratory.

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Molecular Medicine and Molecular Pathology are integral parts of Haematology as we enter the new millennium. Their origins can be linked to fundamental developments in the basic sciences, particularly genetics, chemistry and biochemistry. The structure of DNA and the genetic code that it encrypts are the critical starting points to our understanding of these new disciplines. The genetic alphabet is a simple one, consisting of just 4 letters, buts its influence is crucial to human development and differentiation. The concept of a gene is not a new one but the Human Genome Project (a joint world-wide effort to characterise our entire genetic make-up) is providing an invaluable understanding of how genes function in normal cellular processes and pinpointing how disruption of these processes can lead to disease. Transcription and translation are the key events by which our genotype is converted to our phenotype (via a messenger RNA intermediate), producing the myriad proteins and enzymes which populate the cellular factory of our body. Unlike the bacterial or prokaryotic genome, the human genome contains a large amount of non coding DNA (less than 1% of our genome codes for proteins), and our genes are interrupted, with the coding regions or exons separated by non coding introns. Precise removal of the intronic material after transcription (though a process called splicing) is critical for efficient translation to occur. Incorrect splicing can lead to the generation of mutant proteins, which can have a dilaterious effect on the phenotype of the individual. Thus the 100,000-200,000 genes which are present in each cell in our body have a defined control mechanism permitting efficient and appropriate expression of proteins and enzymes and yet a single base change in just one of those genes can lead to diseases such as haemophilia or fanconis anaemia.

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Tese de doutoramento, Ciências Biomédicas (Bioquímica Médica), Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Medicina, 2016

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T cell receptors are among the most specific biological structures found in nature and are therefore excellent candidates for the molecular targeting of antigen. It is becoming increasingly apparent that common sets of T cell receptors are frequently used in humans to combat pathogen and cancer derived threats. Given that many of these conserved T cell receptors have high affinity for their target ligands, there is potential to amass virtual banks of “off-the-shelf” receptors for use in a wide range of immunotherapeutic strategies. Additionally, such T cell receptors could become basic blueprints for artificial enhancement through mutagenesis, thereby creating an even better 3-dimensional fit for their cognate targets. Indeed, preliminary approaches using both “natural” and “supernatural” T cell receptors have shown promise in treating autoimmunity and malignancy. This review will discuss these studies and other approaches through which T cell receptors can be exploited in immunodiagnostics, pathogen control and gene therapy.

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Background: In molecular medicine, the manipulation of cells is prerequisite to evaluate genes as therapeutic targets or to transfect cells to develop cell therapeutic strategies. To achieve these purposes it is essential that given transfection techniques are capable of handling high cell numbers in reasonable time spans. To fulfill this demand, an alternative nanoparticle mediated laser transfection method is presented herein. The fs-laser excitation of cell-adhered gold nanoparticles evokes localized membrane permeabilization and enables an inflow of extracellular molecules into cells. Results: The parameters for an efficient and gentle cell manipulation are evaluated in detail. Efficiencies of 90% with a cell viability of 93% were achieved for siRNA transfection. The proof for a molecular medical approach is demonstrated by highly efficient knock down of the oncogene HMGA2 in a rapidly proliferating prostate carcinoma in vitro model using siRNA. Additionally, investigations concerning the initial perforation mechanism are conducted. Next to theoretical simulations, the laser induced effects are experimentally investigated by spectrometric and microscopic analysis. The results indicate that near field effects are the initial mechanism of membrane permeabilization. Conclusion: This methodical approach combined with an automated setup, allows a high throughput targeting of several 100,000 cells within seconds, providing an excellent tool for in vitro applications in molecular medicine. NIR fs lasers are characterized by specific advantages when compared to lasers employing longer (ps/ns) pulses in the visible regime. The NIR fs pulses generate low thermal impact while allowing high penetration depths into tissue. Therefore fs lasers could be used for prospective in vivo applications.

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Drug resistance continues to be a major barrier to the delivery of curative therapies in cancer. Historically, drug resistance has been associated with over-expression of drug transporters, changes in drug kinetics or amplification of drug targets. However, the emergence of resistance in patients treated with new-targeted therapies has provided new insight into the complexities underlying cancer drug resistance. Recent data now implicate intratumoural heterogeneity as a major driver of drug resistance. Single cell sequencing studies that identified multiple genetically distinct variants within human tumours clearly demonstrate the heterogeneous nature of human tumours. The major contributors to intratumoural heterogeneity are (i) genetic variation, (ii) stochastic processes, (iii) the microenvironment and (iv) cell and tissue plasticity. Each of these factors impacts on drug sensitivity. To deliver curative therapies to patients, modification of current therapeutic strategies to include methods that estimate intratumoural heterogeneity and plasticity will be essential.

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Congenital lactase deficiency (CLD) (MIM 223000) is a rare autosomal recessive gastrointestinal disorder characterized by watery diarrhea in infants fed with breast milk or other lactose-containing formulas. The CLD locus was previously assigned by linkage and linkage disequilibrium analyses on 2q21 in 19 Finnish families. In this study, the molecular background of this disorder is reported. The CLD locus was refined in 32 CLD patients in 24 families by using microsatellite and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) haplotypes. Mutation analyses were performed by direct sequencing. We identified 5 distinct mutations in the lactase (LCT) gene, encoding the enzyme that hydrolyzes lactose in the intestinal lumen. These findings facilitate genetic testing of CLD in clinical practice and enable genetic counseling. The present data also provide the basis for detailed characterization of the molecular pathogenesis of this disorder. Adult-type hypolactasia (MIM 223100) (lactase non-persistence, lactose intolerance) is an autosomal recessive gastrointestinal condition that is a result of a decline in the activity of lactase in the intestinal lumen after weaning. Adult-type hypolactasia is considered to be a normal phenomenon among mammals and symptoms are remarkably milder than experienced in CLD. Recently, a variant C/T-13910 was shown to associate with the adult-type hypolactasia trait, locating 13.9 kb upstream of the LCT gene. In this study, the functional significance of the C/T-13910 variant was determined by studying the LCT mRNA levels in intestinal biopsy samples in children and adults with different genotypes. RT-PCR followed by solid-phase minisequencing was applied to determine the relative expression levels of the LCT alleles using an informative SNP located in exon 1. In children, the C-13910 allele was observed to be downregulated after five years of age in parallel with lactase enzyme activity. The expression of the LCT mRNA in the intestinal mucosa in individuals with the T-13910 A-22018 alleles was 11.5 times higher than that found in individuals with the C-13910, G-22018 alleles. These findings suggest that the C/T-13910 associated with adult-type hypolactasia is associated with the transcriptional regulation of the LCT gene. The presence of the T-13910 A-22018 allele also showed significant elevation lactase activity. Galactose, the hydrolysing product of the milk sugar lactose, has been hypothesized to be poisonous to ovarian epithelial cells. Hence, consumption of dairy products and lactase persistence has been proposed to be a risk factor for ovarian carcinoma. To investigate whether lactase persistence is related to the risk of ovarian carcinoma the C/T-13910 genotype was determined in a cohort of 782 women with ovarian carcinoma 1331 individuals serving as controls. Lactase persistence did not associate significantly with the risk for ovarian carcinoma in the Finnish, in the Polish or in the Swedish populations. The findings do not support the hypothesis that lactase persistence increases the risk for ovarian carcinoma.

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Schizophrenia, affecting about 1% of population worldwide, is a severe mental disorder characterized by positive and negative symptoms, such as psychosis and anhedonia, as well as cognitive deficits. At present, schizophrenia is considered a complex disorder of neurodevelopmental origin with both genetic and environmental factors contributing to its onset. Although a number of candidate genes for schizophrenia have been highlighted, only very few schizophrenia patients are likely to share identical genetic liability. This study is based on the nation-wide schizophrenia family sample of the National Institute for Health and Welfare, and represents one of the largest and most well-characterized familial series in the world. In the first part of this study, we investigated the roles of the DTNBP1, NRG1, and AKT1 genes in the background of schizophrenia in Finland. Although these genes are associated with schizophrenia liability in several populations, any significant association with clinical diagnostic information of schizophrenia remained absent in our sample of 441 schizophrenia families. In the second part of this study, we first replicated schizophrenia linkage on the long arm of chromosome 7 in 352 schizophrenia families. In the following association analysis, we utilized additional clinical disorder features and intermediate phenotypes – endophenotypes - in addition to diagnostic information from altogether 290 neuropsychologically assessed schizophrenia families. An intragenic short tandem repeat allele of the regional RELN gene, supposed to play a role in the background of several neurodevelopmental disorders, showed significant association with poorer cognitive functioning and more severe schizophrenia symptoms. Additionally, this risk allele was significantly more prevalent among the individuals affected with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. We have previously identified linkage of schizophrenia and its cognitive endophenotypes on the long arms of chromosomes 2, 4, and 5. In the last part of this study, we selected altogether 104 functionally relevant candidate genes from the linked regions. We detected several promising associations, of which especially interesting are the ERBB4 gene, showing association with the severity of schizophrenia symptoms and impairments in traits related to verbal abilities, and the GRIA1 gene, showing association with the severity of schizophrenia symptoms. Our results extend the previous evidence that the genetic risk for schizophrenia is at least partially mediated via the effects of the candidate genes and their combinations on relevant brain systems, resulting in alterations in different disorder domains, such as the cognitive deficits.

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Neurodegenerative disorders are chronic, progressive, and often fatal disorders of the nervous system caused by dysfunction, and ultimately, death of neuronal cells. The underlying mechanisms of neurodegeneration are poorly understood, and monogenic disorders can be utilised as disease models to elucidate the pathogenesis. Juvenile neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis (JNCL, Batten disease) is a recessively inherited lysosomal storage disorder with progressive neurodegeneration and accumulation of autofluorescent storage material in most tissues. It is caused by mutations in the CLN3 gene; however, the exact function of the corresponding CLN3 protein, as well as the molecular mechanisms of JNCL pathogenesis have remained elusive. JNCL disease exclusively affects the central nervous system leaving other organs unaffected, and therefore it is of a particular importance to conduct studies in brain tissue and neuronal cells. The aim of this thesis project was to elucidate the molecular and cell biological mechanisms underlying JNCL. This was the first study to describe the endogenous Cln3 protein, and it was shown that Cln3 localised to neuronal cells in the mouse brain. At a subcellular level, endogenous Cln3 was localised to the presynaptic terminals and to the synaptosome compartment, but not to the synaptic vesicles. Studies with the CLN3-deficient cells demonstrated an impaired endocytic membrane trafficking, and established an interconnection between CLN3, microtubulus-binding Hook1 and Rab proteins. This novel data was not only important in characterising the roles of CLN3 in cells, but also provided significant information delineating the versatile role of the Rab proteins. To identify affected cellular pathways in JNCL, global gene expression profiling of the knock-out mouse Cln3-/- neurons was performed and systematically analysed; this revealed a slight dysfunction of the mitochondria, cytoskeletal abnormality in the microtubule plus-end, and an impaired recovery from depolarizing stimulus when specific N-type Ca2+ channels were inhibited, thus leading to a prolonged time of higher intracellular calcium. All these defective pathways are interrelated, and may together be sufficient to initiate the neurodegenerative process. Results of this thesis also suggest that in neuronal cells, CLN3 most likely functions at endocytic vesicles at the presynaptic terminal, potentially involved in the regulation of the calcium-mediated synaptic transmission.

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Disorders resulting from degenerative changes in the nervous system are progressive and incurable. Both environmental and inherited factors affect neuron function, and neurodegenerative diseases are often the sum of both factors. The cellular events leading to neuronal death are still mostly unknown. Monogenic diseases can offer a model for studying the mechanisms of neurodegeneration. Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses, or NCLs, are a group of monogenic, recessively inherited diseases affecting mostly children. NCLs cause severe and specific loss of neurons in the central nervous system, resulting in the deterioration of motor and mental skills and leading to premature death. In this thesis, the focus has been on two forms of NCL, the infantile NCL (INCL, CLN1) and the Finnish variant of late infantile NCL (vLINCLFin, CLN5). INCL is caused by mutations in the CLN1 gene encoding for the PPT1 (palmitoyl protein thioesterase 1) enzyme. PPT1 removes a palmitate moiety from proteins in experimental conditions, but its substrates in vivo are not known. In the Finnish variant of late infantile NCL (vLINCLFin), the CLN5 gene is defective, but the function of the encoded CLN5 has remained unknown. The aim of this thesis was to elucidate the disease mechanisms of these two NCL diseases by focusing on the molecular interactions of the defective proteins. In this work, the first interaction partner for PPT1, the mitochondrial F1-ATP synthase, was described. This protein has been linked to HDL metabolism in addition to its well-known role in the mitochondrial energy production. The connection between PPT1 and the F1-ATP synthase was studied utilizing the INCL-disease model, the genetically modified Ppt1-deficient mice. The levels of F1-ATP synthase subunits were increased on the surface of Ppt1-deficient neurons when compared to controls. We also detected several changes in lipid metabolism both at the cellular and systemic levels in Ppt1-deficient mice when compared to controls. The interactions between different NCL proteins were also elucidated. We were able to detect novel interactions between CLN5 and other NCL proteins, and to replicate the previously reported interactions. Some of the novel interactions influenced the intracellular trafficking of the proteins. The multiple interactions between CLN5 and other NCL proteins suggest a connection between the NCL subtypes at the cellular level. The main results of this thesis elicit information about the neuronal function of PPT1. The connection between INCL and neuronal lipid metabolism introduces a new perspective to this rather poorly characterized subject. The evidence of the interactions between NCL proteins provides the basis for future research trying to untangle the NCL disease mechanisms and to develop strategies for therapies.

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Studying neurodegeneration provides an opportunity to gain insights into normal cell physiology, and not just pathophysiology. In this thesis work the focus is on Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (INCL). It is a recessively inherited lysosomal storage disorder. The disease belongs to the neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs), a group of common progressive neurodegenerative diseases of the childhood. Characteristic accumulation of autofluorescent storage material is seen in most tissues but only neurons of the central nervous system are damaged and eventually lost during the course of the disease leaving most other cell types unaffected. The disease is caused by mutations in the CLN1 gene, but the physiological function of the corresponding protein the palmitoyl protein thioesterase (PPT1) has remained elusive. The aim of this thesis work was to shed light on the molecular and cell biological mechanisms behind INCL. This study pinpointed the localization of PPT1 in axonal presynapses of neurons. It also established the role of PPT1 in early neuronal maturation as well as importance in mature neuronal synapses. This study revealed an endocytic defect in INCL patient cells manifesting itself as delayed trafficking of receptor and non-receptor mediated endocytic markers. Furthermore, this study was the first to connect the INCL storage proteins the sphingolipid activator proteins (SAPs) A and D to pathological events on the cellular level. Abnormal endocytic processing and intracellular re-localization was demonstrated in patient cells and disease model knock-out mouse neurons. To identify early affected cellular and metabolic pathways in INCL, knock-out mouse neurons were studied by global transcript profiling and functional analysis. The gene expression analysis revealed changes in neuronal maturation and cell communication strongly associated with the regulated secretory system. Furthermore, cholesterol metabolic pathways were found to be affected. Functional studies with the knock-out mouse model revealed abnormalities in neuronal maturation as well as key neuronal functions including abnormalities in intracellular calcium homeostasis and cholesterol metabolism. Together the findings, introduced in this thesis work, support the essential role of PPT1 in developing neurons as well as synaptic sites of mature neurons. Results of this thesis also elucidate early events in INCL pathogenesis revealing defective pathways ultimately leading to the neurodegenerative process. These results contribute to the understanding of the vital physiological function of PPT1 and broader knowledge of common cellular mechanisms behind neurodegeneration. These results add to the knowledge of these severe diseases offering basis for new approaches in treatment strategies.

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RAPADILINO syndrome is an autosomally resessively inherited condition that belongs to a group of rare syndromes more common in Finland than in other parts of the world. RAPADILINO is characterized by pre- and postnatal growth retardation, radial ray defects, diarrhoea of unknown aetiology during chilhood, a facial resemblance with other patients and normal intelligence. In Finland, 15 patients with this condition have been found which compares with only five patients in other parts of the world. We found RECQL4 gene mutations in RAPADILINO patients and proved this syndrome to be allelic with a subgroup of Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (RTS). Later we found RECQL4 mutations in patients with Baller-Gerold syndrome (BGS). These three syndromes share clinical findings and differential diagnostics rely on poikiloderma and craniosynostosis not seen in RAPADILINO syndrome. We found five different mutations in the Finnish RAPADILINO patients. The g.2545delT mutation is the founder mutation in the Finnish population as all the patients are either homozygotes or compound heterozygotes for it. This mutation leads to the inframe skipping of exon seven from mRNA. The protein encoded by this mutant mRNA lacks the nuclear retention signal and thus leads to the mislocalization of the mutant protein. The genotype-phenotype correlation is not straightforward but it seems that RAPADILINO could be due to alteration in protein function and truncating mutations in both alleles are more common among RTS patients. RTS patients with RECQL4 mutations have an elevated risk for osteosarcoma, but their risk to develop other types of malignancies is not increased.Two Finnish RAPADILINO patients have been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, but in addition to this we have found an excess of lymphoma cases among the Finnish RAPADILINO patients. This difference between cancer types could be due to different mutations found in these syndromes. The mutation screening of the patients will help to differentiate patients who have RECQL4 mutations and thus the elevated cancer risk. Patients will benefit from the follow up since early detection of malignancies is important for the treatment.

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Levofloxacino é uma fluorquinolona sintética de 3 geração. É eficaz contra uma variedade de infecções, incluindo o trato respiratório superior e inferior, trato urinário, obstétrico, ginecológico, e infecções dermatológicas. Com o objetivo de quantificar o levofloxacino em medicamentos e amostras de pacientes saudáveis e ter a resolução de seu espectro, foram realizados estudos preliminares em medicamento utilizando espectrofluorescência molecular com concentrações na faixa de 28,8 108 ng/mL e cromatografia líquida de alta eficiência (HPLC) na faixa de concentração de 2,9 10,8 g/mL; e também quantificação em urina de paciente em tratamento com o medicamento, usando os dois métodos citados. Após isso, foram feitos estudos conclusivos utilizando espectrofluorescência molecular e os métodos univariado e PLS para determinação de levofloxacino na faixa de concentração de 0 250 ng/mL e PARAFAC combinado com o método da adição de padrão, para quantificação de levofloxacino em urina de paciente saudável, na faixa de concentração de 0 150 ng/mL, com diluição da amostra em três níveis (100 x, 500 x e 1000x). O método de ordem zero se mostrou mais eficiente na determinação de levofloxacino em medicamento que o de primeira ordem, seus desvios padrão foram 2,0% e 7,9%, respectivamente. Já o PARAFAC com o método de adição de padrão apresentou melhores resultados com a urina, pois possibilitou a quantificação do antibiótico em uma amostra complexa, de forma mais precisa e exata com o aumento da diluição da urina, sem necessidade de tratamento prévio.

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The gut-hormone, ghrelin, activates the centrally expressed growth hormone secretagogue 1a (GHS-R1a) receptor, or ghrelin receptor. The ghrelin receptor is a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) expressed in several brain regions, including the arcuate nucleus (Arc), lateral hypothalamus (LH), ventral tegmental area (VTA), nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and amygdala. Activation of the GHS-R1a mediates a multitude of biological activities, including release of growth hormone and food intake. The ghrelin signalling system also plays a key role in the hedonic aspects of food intake and activates the dopaminergic mesolimbic circuit involved in reward signalling. Recently, ghrelin has been shown to be involved in mediating a stress response and to mediate stress-induced food reward behaviour via its interaction with the HPA-axis at the level of the anterior pituitary. Here, we focus on the role of the GHS-R1a receptor in reward behaviour, including the motivation to eat, its anxiogenic effects, and its role in impulsive behaviour. We investigate the functional selectivity and pharmacology of GHS-R1a receptor ligands as well as crosstalk of the GHS-R1a receptor with the serotonin 2C (5-HT2C) receptor, which represent another major target in the regulation of eating behaviour, stress-sensitivity and impulse control disorders. We demonstrate, to our knowledge for the first time, the direct impact of GHS-R1a signalling on impulsive responding in a 2-choice serial reaction time task (2CSRTT) and show a role for the 5-HT2C receptor in modulating amphetamine-associated impulsive action. Finally, we investigate differential gene expression patterns in the mesocorticolimbic pathway, specifically in the NAcc and PFC, between innate low- and high-impulsive rats. Together, these findings are poised to have important implications in the development of novel treatment strategies to combat eating disorders, including obesity and binge eating disorders as well as impulse control disorders, including, substance abuse and addiction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and mood disorders.

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Developing effective treatments for neurodegenerative diseases is one of the greatest medical challenges of the 21st century. Although many of these clinical entities have been recognized for more than a hundred years, it is only during the past twenty years that the molecular events that precipitate disease have begun to be understood. Protein aggregation is a common feature of many neurodegenerative diseases, and it is assumed that the aggregation process plays a central role in pathogenesis. In this process, one molecule (monomer) of a soluble protein interacts with other monomers of the same protein to form dimers, oligomers, and polymers. Conformation changes in three-dimensional structure of the protein, especially the formation of beta-strands, often accompany the process. Eventually, as the size of the aggregates increases, they may precipitate as insoluble amyloid fibrils, in which the structure is stabilized by the beta-strands interacting within a beta-sheet. In this review, we discuss this theme as it relates to the two most common neurodegenerative conditions-Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.