Tuomo Glumoff's research group

Principal investigator:

Docent Tuomo Glumoff, Ph.D., University of Oulu, Department of Biochemistry, Box 3000, 90014 University of Oulu, e-mail: tuomo.glumoff(at)oulu.fi

Glumoff CV

Research group members:

Tuomo Glumoff, Ph.D., Lecturer, Docent

Tatu Haataja, M.Sc., Doctoral Student

Maija Mehtälä, M.Sc., Doctoral Student

Miki Kallio, M.Sc., System Analyst, Doctoral Student
 

group

Our research is funded by the Academy of Finland.
We are part of X-ray Oulu.

 

Some of our research results:

Gallery of protein structures

Theses completed in the group

Publications from the project

Background and a short description:

Structure-function relationship of fatty acyl metabolizing enzymes

Fatty acids have essential functions in the body, like, they serve as building blocks for biological membranes, energy source and storage as well as source for the synthesis of other molecules. Fatty acids are obtained in the food and the body also synthesizes them.

The breakdown of fatty acids in cells takes place in a cyclic reaction pathway, ß-oxidation, where a two-carbon fragment is removed at each cycle. In mammals ß-oxidation is compartmentalized in cells in a complex way; for example long-chain and branched-chain fatty acids are first shortened in peroxisomes and transported for further degradation into mitochondria. Lower eukaryotes, like yeasts, possess only the peroxisomal ß-oxidation route. Fatty acid metabolism requires a large cohort of enzymes the functions of which are not well known in all cases. Mutations in the genes coding for enzymes of fatty acid metabolism may lead to severe metabolic diseases.

Our research is focused on one of the central proteins of peroxisomal ß-oxidation, the multifunctional enzyme type 2 (MFE-2). Human MFE-2 contains two enzyme activities and a functionally unknown domain in one polypeptide chain. Certain mutations in the gene coding for MFE-2 cause dysfunction of the enzymes (D-bifunctional protein deficiency), which leads to e.g. accumulation of long-chain fatty acids in the body. Abnormalities in neural development are, among others, common symptoms in patients, and in the severe cases this often leads to death at early age. The disease is, however, a rare one.

We have determined the structures of the functional parts of MFE-2 and presented models for its functional mechanisms and its assembly into a multifunctional protein. We have also shown by comparing to a patient cohort that a milder form of D-bifunctional protein deficiency correlates with a structurally less-disturbing mutation in MFE-2 (genotype-phenotype correlation).

In the future we aim to do comparative structure-function relationship studies with MFE-2s from many species using modern methods of structural research, protein chemistry, enzyme kinetics and biocomputing.

Biochemical pedagogics: Meaningful learning in biochemistry

The main goal of higher education is to produce experts for working life as well as for research. The study orientation of students should be directed towards insightful learning and enhancement of the depth of knowledge and understanding through-out the studies. Also the development of education should be based on contextual research data about the processes of learning. Therefore follow-up surveys should be conducted every term of academic year to obtain true overview of learning. To accomplish all that, relevant tools are needed.

The study sample consist of students who began their education in the fall 2008 and 2009. The same group of students is followed up over the period of Bachelor studies and the progress is tracked by conducting annual evaluations.

Research problems:

  • What kind of a study orientation do students have at different stages of Bachelor education?
  • How does knowledge become organized into wholes during the education?
  • How does the thinking of students develop?
  • How can the learning follow-up data be used for continuous quality assessment in higher education?

The Inventory of General Study Orientations -measurement is used to investigate the study orientation of students. A concept map and a case assessment is used to investigate the students' ability to organize knowledge into wholes at different stages of education. The study has relevance when developing learning-based quality assessment methods.

Last updated: 28.10.2016