13,150 research outputs found

    Undergraduate Catalog of Studies, 2023-2024

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    Roles of the ubiquitin ligase complex CRL5Ozz and its substrate Alix in skeletal muscle

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    Mitochondrial transfer - a novel promising approach for the treatment of metabolic diseases

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    Metabolic disorders remain a major global health concern in the 21st century, with increasing incidence and prevalence. Mitochondria play a critical role in cellular energy production, calcium homeostasis, signal transduction, and apoptosis. Under physiological conditions, mitochondrial transfer plays a crucial role in tissue homeostasis and development. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenesis of metabolic disorders. Numerous studies have demonstrated that mitochondria can be transferred from stem cells to pathologically injured cells, leading to mitochondrial functional restoration. Compared to cell therapy, mitochondrial transplantation has lower immunogenicity, making exogenous transplantation of healthy mitochondria a promising therapeutic approach for treating diseases, particularly metabolic disorders. This review summarizes the association between metabolic disorders and mitochondria, the mechanisms of mitochondrial transfer, and the therapeutic potential of mitochondrial transfer for metabolic disorders. We hope this review provides novel insights into targeted mitochondrial therapy for metabolic disorders

    Converging organoids and extracellular matrix::New insights into liver cancer biology

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    Patterning of the cell cortex by Rho GTPase Dynamics

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    The Rho GTPases — RHOA, RAC1 and CDC42 — are small GTP binding proteins that regulate basic biological processes such as cell locomotion, cell division and morphogenesis by promoting cytoskeleton-based changes in the cell cortex. This regulation results from active (GTP-bound) Rho GTPases stimulating target proteins that, in turn, promote actin assembly and myosin 2-based contraction to organize the cortex. This basic regulatory scheme, well supported by in vitro studies, led to the natural assumption that Rho GTPases function in vivo in an essentially linear matter, with a given process being initiated by GTPase activation and terminated by GTPase inactivation. However, a growing body of evidence based on live cell imaging, modelling and experimental manipulation indicates that Rho GTPase activation and inactivation are often tightly coupled in space and time via signalling circuits and networks based on positive and negative feedback. In this Review, we present and discuss this evidence, and we address one of the fundamental consequences of coupled activation and inactivation: the ability of the Rho GTPases to self-organize, that is, direct their own transition from states of low order to states of high order. We discuss how Rho GTPase self-organization results in the formation of diverse spatiotemporal cortical patterns such as static clusters, oscillatory pulses, travelling wave trains and ring-like waves. Finally, we discuss the advantages of Rho GTPase self-organization and pattern formation for cell function

    Roles of the ubiquitin ligase complex CRL5Ozz and its substrate Alix in skeletal muscle

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    Converging organoids and extracellular matrix::New insights into liver cancer biology

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    Primary liver cancer, consisting primarily of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), is a heterogeneous malignancy with a dismal prognosis, resulting in the third leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide [1, 2]. It is characterized by unique histological features, late-stage diagnosis, a highly variable mutational landscape, and high levels of heterogeneity in biology and etiology [3-5]. Treatment options are limited, with surgical intervention the main curative option, although not available for the majority of patients which are diagnosed in an advanced stage. Major contributing factors to the complexity and limited treatment options are the interactions between primary tumor cells, non-neoplastic stromal and immune cells, and the extracellular matrix (ECM). ECM dysregulation plays a prominent role in multiple facets of liver cancer, including initiation and progression [6, 7]. HCC often develops in already damaged environments containing large areas of inflammation and fibrosis, while CCA is commonly characterized by significant desmoplasia, extensive formation of connective tissue surrounding the tumor [8, 9]. Thus, to gain a better understanding of liver cancer biology, sophisticated in vitro tumor models need to incorporate comprehensively the various aspects that together dictate liver cancer progression. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to create in vitro liver cancer models through organoid technology approaches, allowing for novel insights into liver cancer biology and, in turn, providing potential avenues for therapeutic testing. To model primary epithelial liver cancer cells, organoid technology is employed in part I. To study and characterize the role of ECM in liver cancer, decellularization of tumor tissue, adjacent liver tissue, and distant metastatic organs (i.e. lung and lymph node) is described, characterized, and combined with organoid technology to create improved tissue engineered models for liver cancer in part II of this thesis. Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction into the concepts of liver cancer, cellular heterogeneity, decellularization and organoid technology. It also explains the rationale behind the work presented in this thesis. In-depth analysis of organoid technology and contrasting it to different in vitro cell culture systems employed for liver cancer modeling is done in chapter 2. Reliable establishment of liver cancer organoids is crucial for advancing translational applications of organoids, such as personalized medicine. Therefore, as described in chapter 3, a multi-center analysis was performed on establishment of liver cancer organoids. This revealed a global establishment efficiency rate of 28.2% (19.3% for hepatocellular carcinoma organoids (HCCO) and 36% for cholangiocarcinoma organoids (CCAO)). Additionally, potential solutions and future perspectives for increasing establishment are provided. Liver cancer organoids consist of solely primary epithelial tumor cells. To engineer an in vitro tumor model with the possibility of immunotherapy testing, CCAO were combined with immune cells in chapter 4. Co-culture of CCAO with peripheral blood mononuclear cells and/or allogenic T cells revealed an effective anti-tumor immune response, with distinct interpatient heterogeneity. These cytotoxic effects were mediated by cell-cell contact and release of soluble factors, albeit indirect killing through soluble factors was only observed in one organoid line. Thus, this model provided a first step towards developing immunotherapy for CCA on an individual patient level. Personalized medicine success is dependent on an organoids ability to recapitulate patient tissue faithfully. Therefore, in chapter 5 a novel organoid system was created in which branching morphogenesis was induced in cholangiocyte and CCA organoids. Branching cholangiocyte organoids self-organized into tubular structures, with high similarity to primary cholangiocytes, based on single-cell sequencing and functionality. Similarly, branching CCAO obtain a different morphology in vitro more similar to primary tumors. Moreover, these branching CCAO have a higher correlation to the transcriptomic profile of patient-paired tumor tissue and an increased drug resistance to gemcitabine and cisplatin, the standard chemotherapy regimen for CCA patients in the clinic. As discussed, CCAO represent the epithelial compartment of CCA. Proliferation, invasion, and metastasis of epithelial tumor cells is highly influenced by the interaction with their cellular and extracellular environment. The remodeling of various properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM), including stiffness, composition, alignment, and integrity, influences tumor progression. In chapter 6 the alterations of the ECM in solid tumors and the translational impact of our increased understanding of these alterations is discussed. The success of ECM-related cancer therapy development requires an intimate understanding of the malignancy-induced changes to the ECM. This principle was applied to liver cancer in chapter 7, whereby through a integrative molecular and mechanical approach the dysregulation of liver cancer ECM was characterized. An optimized agitation-based decellularization protocol was established for primary liver cancer (HCC and CCA) and paired adjacent tissue (HCC-ADJ and CCA-ADJ). Novel malignancy-related ECM protein signatures were found, which were previously overlooked in liver cancer transcriptomic data. Additionally, the mechanical characteristics were probed, which revealed divergent macro- and micro-scale mechanical properties and a higher alignment of collagen in CCA. This study provided a better understanding of ECM alterations during liver cancer as well as a potential scaffold for culture of organoids. This was applied to CCA in chapter 8 by combining decellularized CCA tumor ECM and tumor-free liver ECM with CCAO to study cell-matrix interactions. Culture of CCAO in tumor ECM resulted in a transcriptome closely resembling in vivo patient tumor tissue, and was accompanied by an increase in chemo resistance. In tumor-free liver ECM, devoid of desmoplasia, CCAO initiated a desmoplastic reaction through increased collagen production. If desmoplasia was already present, distinct ECM proteins were produced by the organoids. These were tumor-related proteins associated with poor patient survival. To extend this method of studying cell-matrix interactions to a metastatic setting, lung and lymph node tissue was decellularized and recellularized with CCAO in chapter 9, as these are common locations of metastasis in CCA. Decellularization resulted in removal of cells while preserving ECM structure and protein composition, linked to tissue-specific functioning hallmarks. Recellularization revealed that lung and lymph node ECM induced different gene expression profiles in the organoids, related to cancer stem cell phenotype, cell-ECM integrin binding, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Furthermore, the metabolic activity of CCAO in lung and lymph node was significantly influenced by the metastatic location, the original characteristics of the patient tumor, and the donor of the target organ. The previously described in vitro tumor models utilized decellularized scaffolds with native structure. Decellularized ECM can also be used for creation of tissue-specific hydrogels through digestion and gelation procedures. These hydrogels were created from both porcine and human livers in chapter 10. The liver ECM-based hydrogels were used to initiate and culture healthy cholangiocyte organoids, which maintained cholangiocyte marker expression, thus providing an alternative for initiation of organoids in BME. Building upon this, in chapter 11 human liver ECM-based extracts were used in combination with a one-step microfluidic encapsulation method to produce size standardized CCAO. The established system can facilitate the reduction of size variability conventionally seen in organoid culture by providing uniform scaffolding. Encapsulated CCAO retained their stem cell phenotype and were amendable to drug screening, showing the feasibility of scalable production of CCAO for throughput drug screening approaches. Lastly, Chapter 12 provides a global discussion and future outlook on tumor tissue engineering strategies for liver cancer, using organoid technology and decellularization. Combining multiple aspects of liver cancer, both cellular and extracellular, with tissue engineering strategies provides advanced tumor models that can delineate fundamental mechanistic insights as well as provide a platform for drug screening approaches.<br/

    Dissecting the cellular and mechanical changes driving keloid scarring

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    Here we exploit keloid scars, a fibroproliferative skin disorder with no known cause or cure, to investigate this feature of fibrosis. We show that ECM alignment is mimicked in vitro by culturing fibroblasts isolated from the keloid dermis, and therefore, keloid fibroblasts (KDF) are used to investigate the cellular and mechanical drivers of fibrotic matrix alignment. KDF develop a significantly aligned supracellular actin network, mediated by cell-cell adhesions, that enable the formation of aligned ECM. We reveal that autocrine interleukin-6 (IL- 6) in keloid fibroblasts is both necessary and sufficient to induce this phenotype. Downstream of IL-6, independent pharmacological inhibition of ERK, AKT and STAT3, prevent cell alignment, highlighting a role for these signalling pathways in this fibrotic phenotype. Upstream of IL-6, although our data were inconclusive, we propose a role for c-Jun in the constitutive production of IL-6 in keloid fibroblasts. Keloid fibroblasts also display aligned focal adhesions, which we hypothesise generate aligned traction forces that enable the anisotropic remodelling of the ECM. To examine patterns in tractions, traction force microscopy (TFM) was performed on KDF and NDF. No significant differences in traction alignment were found, highlighting that further optimisation may be required. Overall, the work presented in this thesis suggests a novel function for IL-6 in keloid pathogenesis, as IL-6 signalling has been shown to be vital in cell and ECM remodelling. These data suggest that therapeutic targeting of IL-6 may not only reduce inflammation, but al

    Graduate Catalog of Studies, 2023-2024

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