The pervasive and reproducible anatomy of the vasculature ensures the delivery and exchange of gases, hormones, metabolic wastes and immunity factors. These functions are crucial for vertebrate homeostasis and survival. Conversely, defective vessel growth contributes to the pathogenesis of multiple human diseases.
Our long-term goal is to understand the mechanisms that shape the stereotypic anatomy of the vasculature as a prerequisite for the development of therapies aimed at the regulation of blood vessel growth, like anti-cancer treatments and ischemic tissue revascularization.
To achieve our goal, we use the transparent zebrafish embryo to visualize, with the aid of transgenic fluorescent reporters, the development of blood vessels in vivo and in real time.
Our efforts specifically aim to:
- Understand the molecular mechanisms of Semaphorin-PlexinD1 signaling, a key pathway involved in vascular patterning.
- Identify additional genes involved in vascular guidance by using gain and loss of function approaches and characterizing mutants with abnormal blood vessels.
- Establish novel transgenic tools that complement our in vivo vascular patterning studies.