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Regulation of blood and lymphatic vessel development

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An enhancer driving arterial-specific reporter gene expression in both zebrafish and mouse transgenic models

The goal of my laboratory is to understand how blood vessels grow, differentiate and regress through studying the transcriptional regulation of vascular genes. 

The vascular system is a highly branched network of endothelial cell-lined tubes that transports blood, metabolites and waste products throughout the body. In addition to being essential for embryonic development, the formation of new blood vessels is required after injury, during tissue regrowth and repair, and for the growth and spread of solid tumours. However, our ability to manipulate vessel growth for therapeutic aims is hampered by a poor understanding of the mechanisms regulating vessel growth in both physiological and pathological contexts.

To study vessel regulation, my laboratory primarily focuses on the identification, characterisation and delineation of enhancers (cis-regulatory elements) directing gene expression within the vasculature. Enhancers are densely clustered groups of transcription factor binding motifs and are the principal regulators of spatio-temporal patterns of gene transcription. Analysis of the proteins that activate and repress different enhancers is combined with genetic studies to accurately position these factors within complex signalling networks. We are using this approach to understand what makes blood vessels molecularly different from each other, to determine the signalling cascades involved at different stages of vessel growth, and to study these processes in different disease states, and during repair after  injury (e.g. after a heart attack). 

This work involves a variety of model systems including transgenic mouse and zebrafish, tissue culture and in silico analysis.

Our team

Selected Publications

Latest publications

What's new

A potential strategy identified to improve blood vessel growth after heart attack

Potential strategy identified to improve blood vessel growth after heart attack

A collaborative paper from the De Val and Smart Groups has established multiple regulatory pathways responsible for the formation of blood vessels in the developing heart. In doing so they have identified a crucial pathway that is repressed in the adult heart after injury, which may hold the key to a new and improved strategy for repair.

Sarah de val to expand critical research into endothelial cell dysfunction in cardiovascular disease

Sarah De Val set to expand critical research into endothelial cell dysfunction in cardiovascular disease

Prof Sarah De Val in collaboration with Dr Gillian Douglas from the Radcliffe Department of Medicine has received a grant from the John Fell Fund to support their work investigating the behaviour of different endothelial regulatory pathways during disorders of the cardiovascular system.

Development and cell biology researchers showcased in diverse and collaborative annual event

Development and Cell Biology Researchers showcased in diverse and collaborative annual event

A series of internal talks demonstrated an extensive breadth of research within the Development and Cell Biology Theme that tackles the questions fundamental to understanding evolution, growth, organ formation, the onset of disease and tissue regeneration. DPAG Researchers were also joined by two external speakers presenting their research into age-related angiocrine signals and stem cell strategies for lung development.

Dpag celebrates international womens day 2019

DPAG celebrates International Women's Day 2019

A multimedia celebration of the women in our Department.

Related research themes