Jaan-Olle Andressoo Team

Contact information

Jaan-Olle Andressoo
PhD, Research Team leader
Tel. +358 50 358 1213
e-mail: jaan-olle.andressoo-at-helsinki. fi

Institute of Biotechnology
P.O.Box. 56, 00014 University of Helsinki
Street address: Viikinkaari 5D, Biocenter 2


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Jaan-Olle Andressoo, PhD

Using the 3’UTR to control gene function and develop targeted therapies

Our laboratory’s long-term goal is to understand gene regulation and develop novel therapeutic approaches by fine-tuning the expression of a gene selectively in cells in which the gene is normally expressed. This innovative approach is complementary to—and in some respects, superior to—current gene deletion and gene over-expression methods.

A gene’s 3’UTR regulates its expression at the post-transcriptional level. Therefore, we explore new methods for manipulating the 3’UTR of target genes. This approach enables us to control endogenous gene expression specifically in cells that naturally express the gene of interest.

In our laboratory, we use state-of-the-art cellular and molecular biology tools to identify molecules that regulate gene expression by interacting with the target gene’s 3’UTR, including microRNAs (miRNAs) and RNA-binding proteins.

To understand the functional role of a gene’s 3’UTR, we generate and analyze mouse models in which the 3’UTR has been targeted, providing constitutive or conditional control over the endogenous gene’s expression.

Our current research focuses on the biology of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). Both BDNF and GDNF modulate the growth and function of a variety of cell types throughout the body, including the central nervous system. We hypothesize that the ability to conditionally upregulate the endogenous expression of BDNF and/or GDNF in mouse models will help establish novel methods for treating a wide range of neurodegenerative disease, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We also use these powerful models to discover new functions for GDNF and BDNF in peripheral tissues, including the urogenital tract and the enteric nervous system.

Current group members: Post doc Jaakko Kopra (Ph.D.), PhD students: Kärt Varendi, Lauriina Porokuokka, and Daniel Garton; MSc students: Soophie Olfat, Dipabarna Bhattacharya, Heikki Virtanen, Mark Cowlishaw

Jaan-Olle Andressoo, Ph.D., Team leader









Kärt Varendi, Ph.D. student






Lauriina Porokuokka, Ph.D. student





Jaakko Kopra, Ph.D.



Daniel Garton, Fulbright Fellow



Dipabrana Bhattacharya, M.Sc. student









Heikki Virtanen, M.Sc. student





Soophie Olfat, M.Sc. student

Mark Cowlishaw, M.Sc. student


Main international collaborators:

  • Harm H. Kampinga, & Steven Bergink, chaperons in neurodegeneration, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
  • Anders Björklund, animal models of Parkinson’s disease, Lund University, Sweden
  • Lars Olson, MitoPark mouse model, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • Robert P. Coppes, GDNF in salivary gland stem cell regeneration, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
  • James R. Mitchel, fasting and brain function, Harvard School of Public Health, USA
  • David Sulzer, mechanisms of endogenous GDNF action, Columbia University, USA

Recent publications
1. Kumar A, Kopra J, Varendi K, Porokuokka LL, Panhelainen A, Kuure S, Marshall, P, Nevalainen N, Härma MA, Vilenius C, Lilleväli K, Tekko T, Mijatovic M, Pulkkinen N, Jakobson Mad, Jakobson Mai, Ola R, Palm E, Lindahl M,  Strömberg I, Võikar V, Piepponen TP, Saarma M, Andressoo JO . GDNF overexpression from the native locus reveals its role in the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system function. PLOS Genetics, 2015 Dec 17;11(12).

2. Kopra J, Vilenius C, Grealish S, Varendi K, Lindholm J, Castren E, Voikar V, Björklund A, Piepponen P, Saarma M, Andressoo JO. GDNF is not required for catecholaminergic neuron survival in vivo. Nature Neuroscience, 2015 Mar;18(3):319-22.

3. Varendi K, Kumar A, Härma MA, Andressoo JO. miR-1, miR-10b, miR-155, and miR-191 are novel regulators of BDNF. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 Nov;71(22):4443-564.

4. Kumar A, Varendi K, Peränen J, Andressoo JO. Tristetraprolin is a novel regulator of BDNF. SpringerPlus. 2014 Sept 6; 3:502.

5. Varendi K, Airavaara M, Anttila J, Vose S, Planken A, Saarma M, Mitchell JR, Andressoo JO. Short-term Preoperative Dietary Restriction is Neuroprotective in a Rat Focal Stroke Model. PLOS ONE. 2014 Apr;9(4):e93911.

Full list of publications by JO Andressoo: