Mari Kaartinen

Associate Professor
Faculty of Dentistry
(Division of Biomedical Sciences)
Faculty of Medicine
(Department of Medicine,
Division of Experimental Medicine)

Faculty of Dentistry
McGill University
Strathcona Bldg. Room M-72
3640 University Street
Montreal, QC
H3A 0C7

Tel. 1-514-398 7203 ext. 089668 (office) / 00958 (lab)
Fax. 1-514-398 8900
mari.kaartinen [at] (Email)

Dr. Kaartinen’s research program aims to understand how protein crosslinking enzymes (transglutaminases; TGs), extracellular matrix components and matrix stiffness can regulate cell behavior, and how TG-mediated protein modifications can change protein function. Her particular protein of interest is the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin. From a disease perspective, her group is interested in understanding if alterations in fibronectin matrix is linked to the pathophysiology of osteoporosis and defects in energy metabolism and adipogenesis. Her group uses cell cultures and transgenic mice as models of human disease, as well as chemical biology, biochemistry and cell biology experimental approaches.

Dr. Kaartinen received her MSc in Organic Chemistry from University of Jyvaskyla (Finland) and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Kuopio (currently University of Eastern Finland) in 1999. She completed her postdoctoral training at McGill University and joined the Faculty of Dentistry and Faculty of Medicine at McGill in 2002.

Ongoing Studies

  • Role of TG2 and Factor XIIIA in bone and in osteoblast and osteoclast function
  • Role of FXIIIA in energy metabolism
  • Plasma fibronectin assembly in bone and adipose tissue
  • Function of cellular Factor XIIIA in osteoblasts
  • Exercise and glucose metabolism

Ongoing Research Grants

  •  CIHR (2012-2017) Transglutaminases and cell-matrix interactions during osteoblast differentiation 


Peer-Reviewed Articles

Cui C, Wang S, Myneni VD, Hitomi K, Kaartinen MT (2014). Transglutaminase activity is required for stabilization and conversion of plasma FN into permanent osteoblast matrix. Bone 59, 127-138.

Javaid M, Kaartinen MT (2013) Mesenchymal stem cell-based bone tissue engineering. Review. Int. Dental Journal of Students’ Research.1 (3), 24-35.

Dastjerdi AK, Pagano M, McKee MD, Kaartinen MT and Barthelat F (2012). The cohesive behavior of soft biological "glues": Experiments and modeling. Acta Biomater. 8: 3349–3359.

Piercy-Kotb SA, Mousa A, Al-Jallad HF, Myneni VD, Chicatun F, Nazhat SN, Kaartinen MT (2012). Factor XIIIA expression and secretion in osteoblast cultures is regulated by extracellular collagen network and MAP kinase pathway. J Cell Physiol. 227(7):2936-46.

Chicatun F, Pedraza CE, Ghezzi CE, Marelli B, Kaartinen MT, McKee MD, Nazhat SN (2011).Bone extracellular matrix mimicking dense collagen/chitosan gel scaffolds. Biomacromolecules. 12(8):2946-56.

McKee MD, Pedraza CE, Kaartinen MT (2011). Osteopontin and wound healing in mineralized tissues. Cells, Tissues, Organs. 194:313-319.

Al-Jallad HF, Myneni VD, Piercy-Kotb SA, Chabot N, Mulani A, Keillor JW, Kaartinen MT (2011). Plasma membrane Factor XIIIA transglutaminase activity regulates osteoblast matrix secretion and deposition via affecting microtubule dynamics. PLoS ONE. 6 (1):e15893.

Forsprecher J, Wang Z, Goldberg HA, Kaartinen MT (2011). Transglutaminase-mediated oligomerization promotes osteoblast adhesive properties of osteopontin and bone sialoprotein. Cell Adh. Migr. 5 (1) 1-8.

Nelea V, Kaartinen MT (2010). Periodic beaded-filament assembly of fibronectin on negatively charged surfaces.  J. Struct. Biol. 170, 50–59.

Nakano Y, Forsprecher J and Kaartinen MT (2010). Regulation of ATPase activity of transglutaminase 2 by MT1-MMP - implications to mineralization of osteoblast cultures J. Cell Physiol. 2010 223(1):260-269

Forsprecher J, Wang Z, Nelea V, Kaartinen MT (2009). Enhanced osteoblast adhesion on transglutaminase 2 - polymerized fibronectin. Amino Acids. 36(4): 747-753.

Pedraza CE, Nicholcheva LG, Kaartinen MT, Barralet JE, and McKee MD (2008). Osteopontin functions as an opsonin and facilitates phagocytosis of hydroxyapatite-coated microspheres by macrophages:  Implications for bone wound healing.  Bone. 43(4):708-16.

Hubmacher D, El-Hallous EI, Nelea V, Kaartinen MT, Lee ER, and Reinhardt DP (2008). Oligomerization of the C-terminus of fibrillin-1 provides the basis for microfibril assembly.  PNAS. 105 (18): 6548-6553.

Keillor JW, Chica RA, Chabot N, Vinci V, Pardin C, Fortin E, Gillet SMFG, Nakano Y, Kaartinen MT, Pelletier JM and Lubell WD (2008). The bioorganic chemistry of transglutaminase: From mechanism to inhibition and engineering. Can. J. Chem. 86 (4): 271-276.

Nelea V, Nakano Y, Kaartinen MT (2008).  Size distribution and molecular association of plasma fibronectin and fibronectin multimers crosslinked with transglutaminase 2. Protein J. 27(4): 223-233.

Nakano Y, Addison WN, Kaartinen MT (2007).  ATP mediated mineralization of MC3T3-E1 osteoblast cell cultures.  Bone.  41(4): 549-561.

Kaartinen MT, Schinke T, Murshed M, Karsenty G, McKee MD. Osteopontin upregulation and polymerization by transglutaminase in the calcified arteries of  matrix Gla protein-null mice.  Submitted to J.  Histochem.  Cytochem.

Addison WN, Azari F, Sorensen ES, Kaartinen MT, McKee MD. Pyrophosphate inhibits mineralization of osteoblast cultures by binding to mineral, upregulating osteopontin and by inhibiting alkaline phosphatase activity.  Submitted to J. Biol. Chem.

McKee MD, Addison W, Kaartinen MT (2006) Hierarchies of extracellular matrix and mineral organization in bone of the craniofacial complex and skeleton.  Cells, Tissues, Organs. 181 (3-4), 176-88.

Al-Jallad HF, Nakano Y, Chen JLY, McMillan E, Lefebvre C, Kaartinen MT (2006). Transglutaminase activity regulates osteoblast differentiation and matrix mineralization in  MC3T3-E1 osteoblast cells. Matrix Biology. 25, 135-148.

Nourminskaya M, Kaartinen MT (2005) Transglutaminases in mineralized tissues. In press (Frontiers in Biosciences)

Lefebvre C, Al-Jallad HF and Kaartinen MT (2005) Transglutaminase 2 and Factor XIIIa expression, activity and localization in mineralizing osteoblast cultures Proc. of VIIIth Int’l. Conf. Chem. Biol. Mineralized Tissues, Banff, AL, October. In Press 

Kaartinen MT, Wei Sun, S, Kaipatur N, McKee MD (2005) Transglutaminase crosslinking of SIBLING proteins in teeth. J Dent. Res. 84(7):607-612

El-Maadawy S, Kaartinen MT, Schinke T, Murshed M, Karsenty G, McKee MD (2003) Cartilage formation and calcification in arteries of mice lacking matrix Gla protein. Connect. Tissue Res. 44 (Suppl. 1), 1-7

Kaartinen MT, El-Maadawy S, Räsänen NH, McKee MD (2002) Transglutaminase and its substrates in bone. J. Bone Miner. Res. 12, 2161-2173

Goldsmith HL, McIntosh FA, Labrosse JM, Kaartinen MT, Mäenpää PH, McKee MD (2002) Homotypic interactions of soluble and immobilized osteopontin. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 30, 840-850

Luedtke CC, McKee MD, Cyr D, Gregory M, Kaartinen MT, Mui J, Hermo L (2002) Osteopontin expression and regulation in the testis, efferent ducts and epididymis of rats during postnatal development through to adulthood. Biol. Reprod. 66, 1437-1448

Nousiainen M, Derrick PJ, Kaartinen MT, Mäenpää PH, Rouvinen J, Vainiotalo P (2002) A mass spectrometric study of metal-binding to osteocalcin. Chem. Biol. 9, 195-202

Kaartinen MT, Pirhonen A, Linnala-Kankkunen A, Mäenpää PH (1999) Transglutaminase treated osteopontin exhibits increased collagen binding properties. J. Biol. Chem. 274, 1729-1735

Kaartinen MT, Pirhonen A, Linnala-Kankkunen A, Mäenpää PH (1999) Transglutaminase catalyzed cross-linking of osteopontin is inhibited by osteocalcin. J. Biol. Chem. 272, 22736-22741

Lappalainen K, Kolehmainen E, Kaartinen MT, Kauppinen R, Seppalä R, Vatanen V (1994) Substituted methyl-5-cholan-24-oates, II-13C-spectral assignment. Magn. Reson.Chem. 32, 786-788

Kolehmainen E, Kaartinen MT, Kauppinen R, Kotoneva J, Lappalainen K (1994) Substituted methyl 5b-cholan-24-oates, I-17O NMR spectral characterization. Magn. Reson.Chem. 32, 441-445

Book Chapters

Khayer Dastjerdi AK, Pagano M Kaartinen MT, McKee MD and Barthelat F (2013) Direct Measurements of the Cohesive Behavior of Soft Biological Interfaces. Book Chapter/Conference Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Mechanics Series, Mechanics of Biological Systems and Materials, Volume 5: 207-215

McKee MD, Murshed M, Kaartinen MT (2011) Extracellular matrix of craniofacial bone. In: Mineralized Tissues in Oral and Craniofacial Science: Biological Principles and Clinical Correlates.  Laurie McCauley and Martha Somerman, eds. Wiley-Blackwell.

McKee MD, Kaartinen MT (2002) Regulation of biomineralization by proteins and their assembly into extracellular matrices: Bone and the osseointegrated implant interface. In: Aging, Osteoporosis and Dental Implants. Zarb G, Lekholm U, Albrektsson T and Tenenbaum H, eds. Quintessence Pub. Co., Inc., Carol Stream, IL. p. 191-205

Kaartinen MT, Pirhonen A, Linnala-Kankkunen A, Mäenpää PH (2000) Tissue transglutaminase treatment increases osteopontin's collagen binding properties and results in affinity for tropoelastin. In: Chemistry and Biology of Mineralized Tissues, eds. Robinson C, Boskey A, and Goldberg M, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, New York, Chapter 37, pp. 229-232 (peer reviewed article)