Kaska Koltowska - Cellular and molecular dynamics of lymphangiogenesis

The overreaching goal of my laboratory is to broaden our understanding of how the lymphatic vessels form and establish their function, and apply this knowledge to development of new therapeutics.

 Microscope image of developing vasculature
  Developing vasculature

Organogenesis is a complex process that coordinates cell fate decisions with cellular rearrangements, migration and patterning. To achieve this, cells within developing tissues receive intrinsic and extrinsic signals and interpret these molecular cues to form functioning tissues. One of the fundamental questions in developmental biology is how these processes are coordinated to ensure robust tissue formation.

Zebrafish as a model

My group studies lymphatic formation in zebrafish, as a main model system. Lymphatic vessels are predominately derived from defined venous vascular network, posing an intriguing question of how lymphatic cells are specified and organise to form one vasculature from another.

Zebrafish is an ideal model organism to study these questions, as we can visualise in real time and in vivo, the dynamic development of a complex tissue and apply genetic manipulations to alter these processes. This system allows investigating how cell specification and differentiation, cell-cell interactions and cell proliferation are coordinated during morphogenesis in a living organism.

Microscope images of the lymphatic vasculature in the trunk and face of zebrafish
       Trunk lymphatic vasculature in zebrafish (in green).                     Facial lymphatic vasculature (in red).

Determining how a functioning vascular network arises

By applying genetic models, single cell resolution imaging and molecular profiling my lab will be dissecting out how lymphatic progenitor cell populations are defined on the molecular and cellular manner. This will further our understanding of how the progenitor cells make a cascade of decision and undergo rapid rearrangement to untimely give rise to a functioning vascular network.

Dysfunctional lymphatic vasculature causes many diseases

Lymphatic vessels are key for maintaining body fluid homeostasis, immune cell transport and fatty acid absorption, and disrupted formation of lymphatic vasculature leads to vast range of diseases. By studying the fundamental developmental processes and uncovering genes important for correct vessel patterning and function we have the potential to discover new therapeutic targets.

Specific projects

For more information, see https://koltowskalab.com/

Read more about Kaska Koltowska as WAF Fellow

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Last modified: 2023-04-03