This laboratory studies tissue and organ morphogenesis. Work is currently directed at three project areas.
In the first project we study skeletal morphogenesis and growth. We are interested in genes that control differentiation of mesenchymal cells to chondrocytes and osteoblasts, the control of spatial patterns of mesenchymal condensations during skeletal development and tooth formation, the molecular mechanisms controlling the formation of ossification centers, and the regulation of proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes in growth plates. In addition to using transgenic mice in studies of specific genes, we make extensive use of genetic approaches in mice and humans. This includes mapping of inherited disorders, gene identification and mutation detection.
In the second project we investigate the molecular basis for vascular morphogenesis, using a combination of human genetics and studies of cells in culture. In addition, we use gene targeting to generate mice with inactivated alleles for collagens that are expressed in vascular walls.
In the third project we are studying genetic risk factors for osteoarthritis in humans. One approach involves identification of mutations responsible for early-onset osteoarthritis as part of inherited osteochondrodysplasias; in other studies we are screening a population of patients with osteoarthritis for mutations in candidate genes.