BSC 360: Cell Physiology
BSC 792: Cell Signaling
BSC492/692 Advanced Cell Biology
Cell signaling refers to the process by which a signal, such as a growth factor or an environmental stress, on the cell surface is converted into a specific cellular response. This process is mediated by various intracellular signaling pathways. Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases are key signal-transducing enzymes that are responsible for the regulation of many cellular responses, such as changes in gene expression, proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. The research projects in my laboratory are broadly related to the study of molecular mechanisms by which endothelial cells assemble into blood vessels. We are particularly interested in the roles of p38 MAP kinases in the regulation of endothelial cell physiology and vascular biology. Our research utilizes various biochemical, molecular, and cellular approaches. By manipulating the expression and activity level of p38 MAP kinases, we have been investigating their functions in two different experimental models: 1) in conventional 2-dimensional (2D) cell culture dishes where cell proliferation, cell adhesion, and apoptosis are analyzed, 2) in 3D cell culture matrices made of extracellular matrix components where endothelial cells migrate, elongate, and coalesce to form tube structures, mimicking the steps of blood vessel formation in vivo. Our research has recently expended to the use of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) as an in vitro differentiation model to study endothelial cell differentiation and vascular development.
We are also actively engaged in interdisciplinary collaborative research. In collaboration with Dr. Faqing Huang (Dept of Chemistry and Biochemistry) whose lab has developed a novel folate receptor [FR]-based siRNA delivery strategy specific to cancer cells, we are using folate-conjugated siRNA to target cancer cell markers. We expect that this strategy may specifically inhibit tumor cell growth, thus could be potentially used for the development of siRNA-based cancer therapy. In collaboration with Dr. Joshua Otaigbe (School of Polymer Sciences) whose group has extensive experience in synthesizing poly-urethane based biocompatible polymers, we have fabricated 3-demisional synthetic polymer matrices that support cell growth. We are now developing the methods that can direct stem cells differentiating to endothelial cells in synthetic biopolymer matrices, which may be used for vascular tissue engineering.