University of California, Irvine, Department of Biological Sciences, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

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Dr. Christopher C.W. Hughes

(Ph.D., University of London, 1988)

Endothelial cells as initiators and targets of immune responses

  • Faculty Profile

    Publications via PubMed (NIH National Library of Medicine)

  • Member of the Cancer Center

  • E-mail: cchughes@uci.edu


  • We are interested in Endothelial cells - the cells that line blood vessels. Endothelial cells are the first point of contact between circulating lymphocytes and damaged, infected or foreign tissue. As such, endothelial cells play a major role in initiating and regulating immune responses and are a major target for destruction in rejecting grafts. Our work focuses on the process of T cell activation by human endothelial cells, using cultured cells as a model system. Ongoing studies, using cellular and molecular biology techniques, aim to characterize this interaction in terms of the surface ligands and signal transduction pathways used, and the combinations of T cell transcription factors that are activated. Recently we have identified an endothelial cell - induced pathway of T cell activation that is resistant to the commonly used immunosuppressant drug cyclosporin A. We are using molecular biology techniques to characterize the ligands and activation pathways that are involved. A thorough understanding of this activation pathway may lead to new therapies for preventing transplant rejection.

    To explore Endothelial cell behaviour in a geometry more similar to that found in the body we are also culturing cells in 3-dimensional matrices. Rather than growing in sheets, the endothelial cells now form networks of capillary-like tubes. We have isolated several genes that regulate the process of tube formation and may be involved in Angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the process of new blood vessel formation and is particularly important in the growth of tumors. By inhibiting these genes we may be able to halt blood vessel growth and therefore halt tumor growth.


    Click here for Dr. Hughes' Personal Home Page
    Dr. Hughes is part of the UCI Graduate Track in Immunology/Pathogenesis and Cancer within the UCI graduate Program in Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Biochemistry. Applications requests or additional information about the graduate program may be obtained by electronic mail at gp-mbgb@uci.edu or by phone at (949) 824-8145. On-line applications may also be submitted through the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

    1) Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Biochemistry

    2) Email: gp-mbgb@uci.edu or call (949) 824-8145

    3) Graduate Studies Home Page, with links to On-line applications and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies


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