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University of Helsinki Institute of Biotechnology
Wood Development Group
Contact Information:
Wood Development Group Institute of Biotecnology Viikinkaari 1 (P.O.Box 65)
00014 University of Helsinki
Tel: +358-9-1911
fax +358-9-1915 9366

Yrjö Helariutta
+358-9-191 59422

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Ykä (Yrjö) Helariutta

Plant Molecular Biology Lab
Institute of Biotechnology
POB 56
FIN-00014 University of Helsinki
Tel: +358-9-19159422
Fax: +358-9-19159366

Date of Birth: January 13, 1965
Place of Birth: Helsinki
Citizen: Finn

- Master of Science 01.02.1990, University of Helsinki, Finland; degree in Genetics; other main subjects being Biochemistry and Plant Physiology
- Doctor of Philosophy 15.09.1995, University of Helsinki, Finland

Working experiences:
- Teaching assistant, University of Helsinki, Department of Genetics, 1989
- Graduate student, Dr. Teemu Teeri's group, University of Helsinki, 1989 - 1995
- Post-doctoral fellow / post-doctoral associate Dr. Philip Benfey's group, New York University / Dr. Victor Albert's group, New York Botanical Garden, 1995 - 1998
- Group Leader, University of Helsinki, 1999 -
- Academy Research Fellow, 2001 - 2004
- Professor of Botany, University of Turku, 2005 -

1999 - 2003: Nomination for a Group Leader position in the Institute of Biotechnology
1999 - 2011: Member of a Plant Molecular Biology -Center of Excellence (huippuyksikkö; Head: Prof. Tapio Palva) by the Academy of Finland
2000: Appointment for “Docent” (lecturer) in the University of Helsinki
2001 - 2005: Member of the Biocentrum Helsinki Center of Excellence (jointly with prof. Teemu Teeri)
2001 - 2004: EMBO Young Investigator
2003 - 2007: Developmental Biology of Plants –programme (Umeå Plant Science Center, SWE)
2005 - 2010: EURYI award (ESF)
2008: Appointed as an EMBO member
2011: Director of the Research Program in Genome Biology at the Institute of Biotechnology
2013 - 2017: Academdy Professor

Synopsis of the previous work and selected publications:
- Teemu Teeri lab (1989 - 1995): I am interested in plant development and its diversity. During my Ph.D. thesis work "The Developmental Expression and Molecular Evolution of the Flavonoid Biosynthetic Genes in Gerbera hybrida" (1995 Teemu Teeri lab, Institute of Biotechnology) I was initiating studies concerning flower development in gerbera. I cloned and characterized two biosynthetic genes (chalcone synthase, CHS, and dihydroflavonol-4-reductase, DFR) of the biochemical pathway leading to the anthocyanin pigment accumulation during flower development and showed that one of these genes (DFR) is under an exquisite spatial regulation in the complex inflorescence of gerbera. This finding was important for further studies on the developmental regulation of gene expression during inflorescence develoment in plants. In addition to these two genes, I cloned (based on the low sequence homology to CHS) and preliminarily characterized a novel gene (GCHS2) that we found later, as a result of an international collaborative effort, to code for the first dedicated enzyme of a previously unknown gerberin/parasorboside pathway leading to the biosynthesis of plant polyketides that are biologically active against insects and fungi. During this period, I also played an active role in other projects addressing more directly the developmental mechanisms of flower development.

Helariutta Y, Elomaa P, Kotilainen M, Seppänen P, Teeri TH. Cloning of cDNA coding for dihydroflavonol-4-reductase (DFR) and characterization of dfr expression in the corollas of Gerbera hybrida (Compositae).
Plant Mol Biol. 1993 May;22(2):183-93.

Elomaa P, Honkanen J, Puska R, Seppänen P, Helariutta Y, Mehto M, Kotilainen M, Nevalainen L, Teeri TH. Agrobacterium-mediated transfer of antisense chalcone synthase cDNA to Gerbera hybrida inhibits flower pigmentation.
Bio/Technology. 1993; 11:508-511.

Helariutta Y, Elomaa P, Kotilainen M, Griesbach RJ, Schroder J, Teeri TH. Chalcone synthase-like genes active during corolla development are differentially expressed and encode enzymes with different catalytic properties in Gerbera hybrida (Asteraceae).
Plant Mol Biol. 1995 Apr;28(1):47-60.

Helariutta Y, Kotilainen M, Elomaa P, Kalkkinen N, Bremer K, Teeri TH, Albert VA. Duplication and functional divergence in the chalcone synthase gene family of Asteraceae: evolution with substrate change and catalytic simplification.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1996 Aug 20;93(17):9033-8.

Eckermann S, Schröder G, Schmidt J, Strack D, Edrada RA, Helariutta Y, Elomaa P, Kotilainen M, Kilpeläinen I, Proksch P, Teeri TH, Schröder J. New pathway to polyketides in plants.
Nature. 1998 396: 387-390.

Kotilainen M, Helariutta Y, Mehto M, Pollanen E, Albert VA, Elomaa P, Teeri TH. GEG participates in the regulation of cell and organ shape during corolla and carpel development in gerbera hybrida.
Plant Cell. 1999 Jun;11(6):1093-104.

- Philip Benfey lab (1995-1998): Between September 1995 and December 1998 I was as a post-doctoral fellow in the Philip Benfey lab (New York University). Since root development in Arabidopsis had become a model on organogenesis in plants, my post-doctoral focus was the genetic control of radial pattern formation during root development in Arabidopsis thaliana. I investigated two genes (SCARECROW, SCR, and SHORTROOT, SHR) that are essential for asymmetric cell division events during root development. I visited the Benfey lab after the classical screens for the short root mutants had been performed (Benfey et al.1994 Development. 1993 Sep;119(1):57-70; Scheres et al.1995 Development). I carried out a combined SCR expression (in situ) and mutant analysis during root development focusing on embryogenesis and found that SCR is critical for the spatial and temporal regulation of various asymmetric cell division events during plant development. My main contribution was the molecular cloning of the SHR gene that functions upstream of SCR in a cell-nonautonomous fashion, indicative of a novel, radial cell signaling scheme. I also participated in leading of a joint project between the Benfey lab and Prof. Victor Albert lab (New York Botanical Garden) on the molecular basis of diversity in root development in plants. We focused on the relationship between radial patterning and meristem organization using SCR as a marker for radial pattern information. An extensive developmental analysis of the expression of the putative SCR ortholog of maize was carried out.

Di Laurenzio L, Wysocka-Diller J, Malamy JE, Pysh L, Helariutta Y, Freshour G, Hahn MG, Feldmann KA, Benfey PN. The SCARECROW gene regulates an asymmetric cell division that is essential for generating the radial organization of the Arabidopsis root.
Cell. 1996 Aug 9;86(3):423-33.

Wysocka-Diller JW, Helariutta Y, Fukaki H, Malamy JE, Benfey PN. Molecular analysis of SCARECROW function reveals a radial patterning mechanism common to root and shoot.
Development. 2000 Feb;127(3):595-603.

Helariutta Y, Fukaki H, Wysocka-Diller J, Nakajima K, Jung J, Sena G, Hauser MT, Benfey PN. The SHORT-ROOT gene controls radial patterning of the Arabidopsis root through radial signaling.
Cell. 2000 May 26;101(5):555-67.

Lim J, Helariutta Y, Specht CD, Jung J, Sims L, Bruce WB, Diehn S, Benfey PN. Molecular analysis of the SCARECROW gene in maize reveals a common basis for radial patterning in diverse meristems.
Plant Cell. 2000 Aug;12(8):1307-18.

- my lab (1999-): After my experiences in flower and root development, I initiated a research activity on wood development. I am grateful to Teemu, Phil and all the various other scientists representing many disciplines of science, with whom I have interacted and from whom I have learned a lot during these years while developing towards a more independent status and beyond! I also want to thank all the members of my lab for a successful and pleasant collaboration!

Mähönen AP, Bonke M, Kauppinen L, Riikonen M, Benfey PN, Helariutta Y. A novel two-component hybrid molecule regulates vascular morphogenesis of the arabidopsis root.
Genes Dev. 2000 Dec 1;14(23):2938-43.

Helariutta Y and Bhalerao R.
Between Xylem and Phloem: The Genetic Control of Cambial Activity in Plants.
Plant Biology. 2003 Sep 5;5: 465-72

Bonke M, Thitamadee S, Mahonen AP, Hauser MT, Helariutta Y.
APL regulates vascular tissue identity in Arabidopsis.
Nature. 2003 Nov 13;426(6963):181-6.

Higuchi M, Pischke MS, Mahonen AP, Miyawaki K, Hashimoto Y, Seki M, Kobayashi M, Shinozaki K, Kato T, Tabata S, Helariutta Y, Sussman MR, Kakimoto T.
In planta functions of the Arabidopsis cytokinin receptor family.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jun 8;101(23):8821-6.

Nieminen KM, Kauppinen L, Helariutta Y.
A weed for wood? Arabidopsis as a genetic model for xylem development.
Plant Physiol. 2004 Jun;135(2):653-9. Review

Bonke M, Tähtiharju S and Helariutta Y.
Book chapter: “lessons from the root apex” in book “Intercellular communications in plants”.
2005. Editor: Andrew Fleming, Annual Plant Reviews, Blackwell Publishing group.

Carlsbecker A, Helariutta Y.
Phloem and xylem specification: pieces of the puzzle emerge.
Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2005 Oct;8(5):512-7. Review

Mähönen AP, Bishopp A, Higuchi M, Nieminen KM, Kinoshita K, Törmäkangas K, Ikeda Y, Oka A, Kakimoto T, Helariutta Y.
Cytokinin signaling and its inhibitor AHP6 regulate cell fate during vascular development
SCIENCE 2006 Jan;311:94-98.

Anthony Bishopp, Ari Pekka Mähönen and Ykä Helariutta
Signs of change: hormone receptors that regulate plant development.
Development 133, 1857-1869 (2006) doi:10.1242/dev.02359 Review

Some popular articles (in Finnish):
Kangasjärvi J, Helariutta Y. Lituruohon emäsjärjestys selvisi.
Helsingin Sanomat 16.12.2000.

Helariutta Y, Kangasjärvi J, Teeri T. Mitä lituruoho antaa lääketieteelle?
Duodecim, 2001;117(7):673-4.

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