JESUS TORRES-VAZQUEZ, Ph. D.
Vascular patterning in zebrafish
How does the vasculature acquire its stereotypical anatomy?
Specific areas of interest
1. Semaphorin-PlexinD1 signaling
We have shown that that ligands of the Semaphorin (Sema) family are secreted by the somites and serve as repelling guidance cues for navigating intersomitic vessels expressing the endothelial-specific, cell surface receptor PlexinD1. However, the molecular mechanisms by which the PlxnD1 receptor regulates endothelial pathfinding and behavior are not known. We have isolated a variety of proteins that associate with the intracellular part of the PlxnD1 receptor and as such are candidates for mediating its function. We are currently investigating their functional role during vascular patterning.
2. Uncovering novel pathways that regulate vascular patterning
Lack of plxnD1 activity induces defects only in some vessels, suggesting that additional signaling cascades are required to pattern the vasculature. To uncover them, we are mapping and characterizing novel mutants with abnormal vessels.
3. Development of novel transgenic tools for vascular development studies
Our studies, as well as the findings from others suggest that a dynamic molecular landscape of different spatially restricted cues guides the formation of the vascular tree. To aid us in understanding this process, we require both misexpression tools and tissue-specific reporters. We are developing these technologies to complement our Semaphorin-PlexinD1 signaling and mutant characterization studies.
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