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Gomez Lab

Principal Investigator:  Delphine Gomez, PhD

Contact

Lab phone: 412-383-3269
Lab address: 1723 Biomedical Science Tower (Starzl BST)

Research

The Gomez lab is focused on studying the functional role of epigenetic and transcriptional mechanisms in controlling key properties of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) including cell differentiation, lineage memory and plasticity in the context of major cardiovascular diseases including atherosclerosis.

The ability of blood vessels to undergo repair and adaptive remodeling is an essential property of higher organisms. Failure of adequate vascular remodeling contributes to a number of diseases including heart failure and diabetic complications. SMC reversible dedifferentiation, characterized by a temporary downregulation of the SMC marker genes including smooth muscle alpha actin (Acta2) and smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (Myh11) is a key process occurring vascular injury-repair that is tightly regulated by transcriptional mechanisms. SMC acquire a unique epigenetic signature during development from multipotential embryonic cells. Following treatment with the mitogen Platelet Derived Growth Factor-BB, cultured SMC down-regulate expression of SMC marker genes whereas their epigenetic signature persists, suggesting that it may serve as a lineage memory mechanism and be required for SMC re-differentiation. To directly assess the functional role of the SMC-specific epigenetic programming, the Gomez lab develops novel tools to perform gene-specific epigenetic editing in vitro and in vivo. We utilize these tools in vitro and in vivo using smooth muscle cell lineage tracing mice to determine the role of lineage-specific epigenetic programming in controlling cell identity, lineage memory, differentiation and plasticity during blood vessel formation, acute vascular injury-repair processes and chronic vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Lab Members

Delphine Gomez
Delphine Gomez

Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor
Medicine-Cardiology
gomezd@pitt.edu
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Cristina Espinosa Diez, PhD
Cristina Espinosa Diez, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate
espinosa@pitt.edu

Sidney Mahan
Sidney Mahan
Lab Manager
sam395@pitt.edu
Mingjun Liu
Mingjun Liu

Graduate Student Researcher
Cellular/Molecular Pathology Prgm
mil128@pitt.edu