One of our research goals is understanding the growing blood vessels within developing organs. We want to know:
- How do tissues direct blood vessel patterning via angiogenic factors?
- How does the endothelium, in turn, influence embryonic cell differentiation?
We hypothesize that reciprocal signals underlie the coordinated growth of blood vessels and morphogenesis of organs, and that mutual signaling forms the basis for interdependent physiological relationships that last into adulthood.
Understanding this endothelium-tissue crosstalk will be the focus of our research.
We previously demonstrated a developmental role for endothelium in the induction/maintenance of pancreatic beta cells, while another group has identified its influence on hepatic cells. Since then, we have identified vascular signals within niches of renewing or differentiating stem cells. The gene products and signaling molecules mediating these effects, however, are still under study.
Identifying endothelial signals during development will help uncover the role blood vessels play in organogenesis, tumorigenesis, tissue maintenance, and perhaps stem cell differentiation.