We are mainly interested in the role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-3 (VEGFR-3) in blood and lymphatic vessel morphogenesis. VEGFR-3 is primarily expressed in lymphatic endothelial cells and has been mainly involved in lymphatic development and tumor metastasis. However our recent research has revealed important roles for VEGFR-3 also in angiogenesis. We have shown that VEGFR-3 is expressed in sprouting endothelial tip cells during development and in pathological settings as well, and that blocking VEGFR-3 signaling results in suppression of angiogenesis. Recently we were able to unravel some of the molecular mechanisms involved in VEGR-3 signaling, by discovering how VEGFR-3 activation results in the stabilization of newly formed branches in the developing vasculature of the mouse retina.
For our studies we employ several sophisticated genetic mouse models that allow us to manipulate receptor’s expression in vivo, with a great degree of precision. These transgenic mice permit spatial and temporal regulation of receptor’s genetic expression and are valuable tools for further elucidating the signaling properties of VEGFR-3 in the blood and lymphatic vasculature.