Norwegian Biochemical Society (BIG) Lecture
Dr. Mika Rämet, of PEDEGO research unit, University of Oulo, Finland, will give a talk titled, "Zebrafish as a model to study Mycobacterial infection".
WHO has declared Tuberculosis a global health emergency. Currently, the means of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis are poor. To understand biology of a disease, one needs proper models. The main reason for slow of progress in research related to tuberculosis has been a paucity of good animal models to study Mycobacterial infection (reviewed in Myllymäki et al., 2015 Expert Opinion in Drug Discovery). Mycobacterium tuberculosis infects naturally only primates. Thus there has been paucity of valid in vivo models to study different phases of infection. For example, the mechanisms regulating latency, dormancy or reactivation of the disease are particularly poorly understood. My team studies biology of mycobacterial infection using zebrafish Danio rerio.
In adult zebrafish, we model latency, dormancy and reactivation of Mycobacterial infection using Mycobacterium marinum (Parikka et al. 2012 PLoS Pathogens). This model which is based on a similarity between M. tuberculosis and M. marinum can be used – for example - to identify host factors affecting the outcome of the infection (Hammaren et al. 2014 PLoS Pathogens; Ojanen et al., 2015 Infection and Immunity).
Recently, we have carried out a forward genetic screen and identified several mutant fish lines, which are hypersusceptible to M. marinum infection (Harjula et al., unpublished). In addition, we use adult zebrafish to study protective immunity against Mycobacterial infection. Specifically, we use zebrafish as a platform to develop a novel DNA-based vaccine against Mycobacterial infection. Our results are likely advantageous when creating better protective and curative methods against Tuberculosis.