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Understanding how lymphatic vessel valves are built

Understanding how lymphatic vessel valves are built

Project Description: Lymphatic vessels are a crucial component of the cardiovascular system. These specialised vessels are important for fluid homeostasis, the absorption of dietary fats and immune cell trafficking. Abnormalities in the growth, development and/or function of lymphatic vessels underlie human disorders including vascular malformations, lymphoedema, inflammatory diseases and cancer. Despite the integral role that lymphatic vessels play in health and disease, little is known about the signals that direct their construction. The focus of research in the Lymphatic Development Laboratory is to understand how the growth and development of lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis) is controlled during development and disease. This particular project is focussed on understanding how valves are built in the lymphatic vasculature. Our work recently discovered that mutations in GATA2, encoding a key transcription factor, cause a human primary lymphoedema syndrome due to a crucial role for GATA2 in lymphatic vessel valve development. We have now identified a number of GATA2 target genes that we hypothesise also play important roles in valve development. This project will employ a range of cutting edge genetic, molecular and cell biology techniques including the generation and analysis of conditional knockout mice, analysis of gene function in primary cell culture and high resolution confocal microscopy, to dissect the function of these genes in lymphatic vessel valve morphogenesis.

Pre-requisite skills: A record of undergraduate achievement and a fascination with cell and developmental biology.

Supervisor: Professor Natasha Harvey

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