Analyzing endothelial cell migration and factors affecting this migration
Very complex signaling pathway are necessary to guide endothelial cells into forming the specific vascular pattern during embryonic development, but also during growth, wound healing or during progression of diseases like cancer, stroke or arterio-venous malformations.
To analyze the factors regulating the behavior of endothelial cells in healthy and disease conditions we are using zebrafish embryos, which either have genetic defects or in which we impaired gene function or regulatory pathways pharmacologically or by morpholino injection. A main focus of our studies lies on endothelial migration.
We are continuously identifying new potential regulators of endothelial cell migration from comparative gene expression profiling.
Live imaging of the endothelial cell behavior as well as molecular analysis of gene and protein expression (changes) will allow for new insights into whether these candidate factors regulate correct or aberrant endothelial migration and pattern formation and therefore will help to identify potential therapeutic interventions.
Analyzing the role of Wnt signaling in vessel formation
We generated a number of transgenic zebrafish, which allow us to manipulate or visualize canonical Wnt signaling specifically in endothelial cells. We are using those in combination with pharmacological agents and morpholinos to dissect the role of Wnt signaling in different vascular beds, specifically also for development of the blood brain barrier, and during different time points of development.