Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Department of Surgery
Clinical Academic Bldg, Room 7070B
125 Patterson Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08854
Mechanisms of epithelial morphogenesis and vasculogenesis from pluripotent stem cells
We use a unique experimental model system, the embryonic stem (ES) cell-derived embryoid body, which is a tissue structurally similar to the peri-implantation embryo. The embryoid body is amenable to biochemical and genetic manipulations and is a powerful tool with which to analyze the cellular and molecular events underlying epithelial morphogenesis. Using the embryoid body model system, we have uncovered novel interactions among the tumor suppressor PTEN, Rho GTPases and chromatin remodelers. We are studying how their interplay regulates ES cell differentiation and epithelial morphogenesis and how their deregulation causes malignant transformation.
We are also interested in the regulation of vascular network assembly from pluripotent stem cells. We have demonstrated an essential role for Cdc42 signaling in embryonic vasculogenesis. Our goal is to elucidate the upstream activators and downstream effectors of Cdc42 and use this knowledge to design rationally guided stem cell therapies.