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Ongoing Projects

Basic and Translational Research

Skeletal Regeneration and Repair

Craniofacial Repair and Suture Biology

The craniofacial group at the Longaker lab focuses on two main areas:

1.     The first area of investigation focuses on calvarial bones of different embryonic tissue origin and how these different tissue origins impact the osteogenic potential and skeletal repair of these bones. The current research focuses on the neural crest-derived frontal bone and paraxial mesoderm-derived parietal bone. This research has unveiled significant and substantial differences between frontal and parietal bones highlighting some of the molecular mechanism(s) responsible for the different osteogenic capacity and tissue repair potential observed between the two bones. The results gained from this investigation represent an important potential for translational implications to skeletal repair/regeneration.

 

Several papers have been published; describing the bio-molecular mechanism(s) governing the higher osteogenic potential and skeletal repair of the neural crest-derived frontal bone and its relationship to FGF, Wnt, and BMP signaling pathways.

2.     The second area of research is the developmental biology of cranial sutures, specifically, the posterior frontal (PF) suture (metopic in humans), which is a fusing suture, and the non-closing sagittal (Sag) and coronal (Cor) sutures. We have identified the timing and process through which the PF suture closes, showing that this suture fuses through an “autonomous” endochondral ossification process between embryonic days 14-17. Furthermore, we have identified canonical Wnt signaling as a major player in controlling the patency of cranial sutures. Our research extends also to pathological conditions such as craniosynostosis, a premature closure of cranial sutures.

Current studies are aimed towards establishing the presence of and characterization of stem cell population(s), to profile their molecular signature, and to determine how these stem cells may contribute to the different patterning/fate of the cranial sutures.

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