Cells are constantly exposed to changes in the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM provides a structural support for cells and fine-tunes the activity of growth factors by providing a scaffold for optimal distributions. The ECM also activates intracellular signaling pathways through cell surface ECM receptors to modulate proliferation, migration and differentiation of the cells.
Our laboratory is interested in studying the roles of ECM proteins during development and pathological conditions. We develop and characterize mouse models of diseases resulting from compromised ECM proteins, such as congenital cutis laxa, aortic tortuosity syndrome, pulmonary emphysema, pelvic organ prolapse, and thoracic aortic aneurysm. We utilize these models to search for better therapeutic strategies for human conditions.