C.1: Angiogenic Blood Vessel Growth and Vessel Wall Assembly
In development, regeneration or in response to increased oxygen demand, the blood vessel network expands significantly by angiogenesis, a process that involves the sprouting, migration and proliferation of endothelial cells. While insufficient angiogenesis can seriously impair tissue development and repair, aberrant vascular growth can also be disease promoting in cancer or diabetic retinopathy. We will examine basic aspects of angiogenesis at the level of organisms, tissues, cells, signalling pathways and molecular complexes. Our research will make use of the wide repertoire of specific labelling and imaging strategies available in CiM combined with powerful genetic models (zebrafish and mouse) and pharmacological treatments. These techniques will be employed to monitor molecular signalling (e.g. by Notch and Eph/ephrin pathways) and dynamic interactions between endothelial cells, pericytes and the local tissue environment. The latter involves whole-body imaging techniques such as PET, FRI, MRI and CT, allowing the parallel assessment of angiogenic markers and vessel growth. The sum of our research will unravel fundamental mechanisms governing angiogenic growth in vivo such as the regulation of endothelial sprouting, tubulogenesis, the recruitment of perivascular cells, arterial-venous differentiation and organ-specific specialization.