The Creighton Lab is led by assistant professor, Judy R. Creighton, Ph.D.
We aim to understand how endothelium lining specific vascular segments within the lung contributes to overall lung health and to vascular repair following injury or disease. We find that the enzyme Adenosine Monophosphate Kinase (AMPK), classically described as a metabolic sensor, functions as an injury response mechanism in the lung’s capillary bed. Interestingly, our data show that AMPK promotes calcium-signaling necessary for endothelial barrier repair. Calcium signaling is often associated with disruption of the endothelial lining. However, our lab has shown that AMPK activates a discrete calcium mechanism, which reorganizes the cytoskeleton crucial for cadherin adherens’ junction assembly and endothelial cell-cell adhesion.
Specifically, our research tests the hypothesis that AMPKα1 and N-cadherin function in tandem as a rapid response mechanism allowing pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (PMVECs) to re-establish tight cell-cell adhesions quickly and limit increased capillary permeability. Our work supports the idea of endothelial biomedicine with the goal of developing therapeutic strategies targeted toward vascular bed specific disease.