The physiochemical properties and specialized functions of tissues are dependent on dynamic interactions and communication between cells and their extracellular matrix (ECM) environment. In addition to forming elaborate three-dimensional frameworks that establish tissue patterns and boundaries, ECM macromolecules play a critical role in regulating the biological activities of cells. Consequently, a dynamic reciprocal dialogue is established whereby cell secretions and their organization into a matrix in turn influences the activity of secreting cells, promoting a permissive environment for further growth and development. My research program is focused using molecular biology techniques to examine the expression and morphogenic contributions of two structurally related ECM glycoproteins, SPARC (Secreted Protein, Acidic, Rich in Cysteine) and SC1, on early embryonic development. Using the South African clawed frog Xenopus laevis as an experimental organism, our data indicate that SPARC and SC1 have pleiotrophic effects on the development of muscular and neural tissues, e.g., somitic myotomes, neural tube and brain development. Their complex transient expression patterns indicate they make overlapping but distinct contributions to the development of these tissues. Since SPARC is associated with tissue remodelling and repair, we are also examining changes in its expression at different stages of tumour progression in humans. Our preliminary data indicate that SPARC plays a permissive role in the invasion of tumour cells in the stroma of human ovarian tumours. The lessons learned should serve as a stepping stone towards a better understanding of abnormal development and the design of novel therapeutic strategies in the treatment of human diseases.
Lab MembershipsRinguette Lab (Principal Investigator/Director)
Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto
25 Harbord Street
M5S 3G5, Canada
General/Lab Fax: +1-416-978-8532