Dr. Brenda Lilly and her lab focus on the fundamentals of blood vessel formation. They are currently examining the specific role of a microRNA named miR-145. They have demonstrated that it is regulated by Notch signaling in smooth muscle cells and the data indicates that it may uniquely govern smooth muscle biology by modulating TGF-beta signaling. The data may help to explain how TGF-beta, which in addition to regulating smooth muscle cell differentiation, has roles in heart development, fibrosis and cancer, can control a wide array of cellular processes.
Dr. Lilly's lab strives to understand how endothelial and smooth muscle cells communicate to create the vascular landscape that carries blood throughout our bodies. Smooth muscle cells are dynamic cells that can exhibit a range of properties. These properties can be beneficial in normal blood vessels, but certain properties can be detrimental and lead to improper vessel formation and vascular disease. Dr. Lilly and her lab work to understand what regulates vascular smooth cells in normal states, and determine how these regulatory mediators are affected by genetic defects or environmental cues to cause vascular anomalies and disease.
Wang Q, Zhao N, Kennard S, Lilly B. Notch2 and Notch3 function together to regulate vascular smooth muscle development. PLoS One. 2012, 7(5):e37365. Epub 2012 May 17.
Zhao N, Liu H, Lilly B. Reciprocal regulation of syndecan-2 and Notch signaling in vascular smooth muscle cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2012 May 11, 287(20):16111-20.