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Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

Cell surface glycoconjugates in cell interactions of the nervous system and in bacterial adhesion

Polysialic acid is a neurodevelopmental antigen shared by the neural cell adhesion molecule NCAM and capsular polysaccharides of meningitis-causing bacteria. Polysialic acid regulates cell interactions in neural and other tissues during development, and in learning and memory consolidation. Polysialic acid has a central role in many cellular functions, such as migration, cytokine response and cell contact-dependent differentiation. Altered levels of polysialic acid are detected in various neurological diseases, as well as malignancies including neuroblastoma. The objectives of the project are to elucidate the molecular basis of the regulation of polysialic acid expression and to investigate whether polysialic acid could be used as a target for cytotoxicity of neuroblastoma cells.

Meningitis-causing and other pathogenic bacteria attach to their tissue receptors by adhesin molecules binding to specific carbohydrate ligands on cell surfaces. Characterisation of these molecular interactions sheds light on the pathogenic mechanisms of bacterial diseases, and enables the development of new vaccines and new types of drugs that interfere with bacterial adhesion. We are studying carbohydrate-binding proteins to determine their interaction mechanisms and to develop inhibitors of adhesion that could be used as antibacterials.

See also Glycoscience Group

Education information

MD University of Helsinki 1975
MScD University of Helsinki 1977

Education/Academic qualification

Found qualified and competent for Professor of Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Åbo Akademi, 1982

Found qualified and competent for Professor of Biochemistry, University of Turku, 1983

Found qualified and competent for Professor of Physiological Chemistry, University of Kuopio, 1985

Found qualified and competent for Professor of Medical Chemistry, University of Turku, 1986

Found qualified and competent for Professor of Glycobiology, University of Helsinki, 2007

Found qualified and competent for Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Helsinki, 2009

Fields of Science

  • 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
  • 1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
  • Microbiology
  • 3111 Biomedicine
  • 3112 Neurosciences
  • 3122 Cancers

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.