University of California, Irvine, Department of Biological Sciences, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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3) Graduate Studies Home Page, with links to On-line applications and the
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