Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) differentiation, myofibroblast activation and EMT are important processes during embryonic development as well as the onset of several prominent human diseases including cardiovascular disorders, organ fibrosis and tumor metastasis. Our goals are to identify critical signaling molecules and protein factors controlling these processes.
Our current focus is to elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying TGF-β function in VSMC differentiation from neural crest cells, myofibroblast activation from mesenchymal progenitors and EMT of human epithelial cells. We utilize both genetic modified mouse (in vivo) and cell (in vitro) models to study the functions of TGF-β downstream signaling molecules and gene targets in phenotype switches between stem cell and VSMC, mesenchymal progenitor and myofibroblast, as well as epithelial and mesenchymal cell. We have identified response gene to complement 32 (RGC-32) as an important TGF-β target gene in VSMC differentiation, EMT, and fibroblast activation.
- Vascular smooth muscle differentiation and proliferation
- Myofibroblast activation
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)
- Vascular remodeling and inflammation
- Myocardial infarction and fibrosis
- Transforming growth factor-β signaling and function
- Publications by Dr. Chen may be found at PubMed.