Genetic Modeling of Stem Cells and Diseases in the Lung and Esophagus
Research in the Que lab is focused on the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling proliferation and differentiation of stem/progenitor cells. We are particularly interested in how these mechanisms operate in tissue stem cells, for example, stem cells in the esophagus. We think a better understanding of the relevant mechanisms will yield important insights into clinical problems including Eosinophilic esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancers. Knowledge obtained through in vivo mouse and in vitro tissue modeling will also inform normal mechanisms maintaining stem cells in other tissues.
We are also interested in signaling pathways and transcription factors regulating pulmonary vasculature development. Previous studies focused on lung branching morphogenesis have provided important insights into epithelial development. However, very little is known about how mesenchymal cells contribute to lung vasculature, especially during the early stage of lung development. Knowledge into relevant events is critical because many of structural and functional abnormalities of pulmonary vasculature begin during the very early stages.
Key questions to address:
- How self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells are controlled at the cellular and molecular level?
- How stem cell abnormalities are involved in the development of eosinophilic esophagitis and esophageal cancer?
- How blood vessels are built and maintained in the lung?
Current Research Projects
We are seeking motivated rotation students and postdoctoral fellows. We have a couple of promising projects relevant to stem cells, developmental biology and disease modeling. If interested please contact Dr. Que for more details.
- The initial establishment and epithelial morphogenesis of the esophagus: a new model of tracheal-esophageal separation and transition of simple columnar into stratified squamous epithelium in the developing esophagus. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. In press. (2015 Feb 27).
- SOX2 and p63 colocalize at genetic loci in squamous cell carcinomas. J Clin Invest. 124, 1636-45. (2014 Apr 01).
- Activated notch causes deafness by promoting a supporting cell phenotype in developing auditory hair cells. PLoS One. 9, e108160. (2014 Jan 01).