Jack Morikka: Novel findings on the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis during growth and development

Jack Morikka
Englanninkielinen väitös. The work presented within the thesis of Jack Morikka scrutinises the role of pyruvate metabolism in a model of mitochondrial disease, and calls into question the role of a ‘master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis’ in growth and development.

Diseases caused by disorders in mitochondrial function are more common than people would think, with some estimates putting their frequency as high as 1 in 5000. The work in Morikka's thesis looked at further elucidating the metabolic disturbances caused by a dysfunction in the synthesis of mitochondrial proteins, whose accurate synthesis and function is required for normal mitochondrial function and therefore for accurate growth and development. Novel findings in this thesis further implicate pyruvate as an important metabolite in mitochondrial disease.

In the last few decades, focus has been put on the PGC-1 family of genes as so called ‘master regulators of mitochondrial biogenesis’. These genes have been touted as potential targets of therapeutic strategies to alleviate the symptoms of mitochondrial diseases.

Findings in this thesis however, call into question the paradigm that frames the PGC-1 genes as mitochondrial biogenesis master regulators, and instead, a more complex picture prevails. The thesis provides a warning against oversimplification to scientists further studying the roles of the PGC-1 genes in the future.

The doctoral dissertation of M.Sc. Jack Morikka in the field of medicine and life sciences titled The Roles of Mitochondrial Protein Synthesis and of the Transcriptional Coactivator Spargel in Drosophila Growth and Development will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology at Tampere University on Thursday 24 September 2020 starting at 18:00.  The Opponent will be Professor Jared Rutter, University of Utah. The Custos will be Professor Howy Jacobs, Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology.

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Kuva: Jukka Lehtiniemi