Hasson Peleg - Assistant Professor

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Research projects

1. Identifying and characterising regulators of vascular adventitia development, organisation and function

Vascular development and function are complex processes of utmost importance to the organism involving numerous steps and cell types. One of the tissues participating in these processes is the vascular adventitia, the outermost layer of the vessel mainly composed of connective tissue (CT). Historically, it was mostly considered inert, mainly providing structural support to the vessel. Recently however, with the association of the adventitia to a growing number of diseases, its activities have become slowly uncovered and shown to participate in a number of developmental and homeostatic processes such as regulation of vessel tone, remodelling and trafficking in and out of the vessel. Additionally, it plays key roles in replenishing the adjacent vascular tissues by accommodating progenitor cells. Despite this, the processes that regulate adventitial development, organization and function are still unknown.

Our work is aimed at addressing the mechanisms and key genes regulating adventitia development, organization and function. Towards this end we are using the developing mouse and chick embryos as model systems to address these questions in vivo. We currently focus on two genes our data suggest play key roles in these processes: the tumour suppressor Lysyl Oxidase and the oncogene beta-Catenin.

2. Dissecting the roles of the muscle connective tissue in muscle and tendon patterning

Dissecting the cues involved in patterning specific tissues in the developing embryo has proven to be a challenge. The vertebrate limb has been a useful model to study these processes and much effort has been aimed at identifying the cues that pattern the limb skeleton. For the limb skeleton to function properly it is critical that the appropriate associated muscles become anchored to the skeletal scaffold via the correct tendons. These three tissues must interact with each other in 3-dimensional space with high fidelity to form a functional musculoskeletal system. Although much is known about the molecular pathways that determine muscle cell fate and subsequent differentiation, very little is known about the mechanisms that regulate morphogenesis of individual muscles and their associated tendons.

Our previous work has shown that signals in the muscle connective tissue regulate muscle and tendon patterning however the nature of these signals is unclear. Using mice and chick embryos, we aim to unfold the mechanisms underlying the roles of this connective tissue and that regulate its development.