Identification of Novel Tyrosine Kinase and G-Protein Molecules
Cells and tissues do not live by absorbing only nutrients and oxygen. They also receive behavioral, growth, and survival signals from their interactions with other cells, from soluble growth factors, and from an external protein-containing mixture called the extracellular matrix. These messages are often transmitted via cell receptors that first interact with survival or behavioral signals on the outside of the cell and then interact with "second messenger" or signaling molecules inside of the cell. Within cells there are many different types of signaling/second messenger molecules, some of which are even specific for certain cell types. For example, some are found only in cells of the immune system, while others are found only in nerve cells, etc. Dr. Duh hopes to determine if two particular classes of intracellular signaling molecules (tyrosine kinases and small G protein molecules) contain members that are unique to endothelial cells. Endothelial cells are the cells that respond to the growth factor VEGF to produce new blood vessels, including the damaging blood vessels responsible for CNV. Dr. Duh has hypothesized that one or more endothelial cell-specific tyrosine kinases and/or G proteins play an important role in mediating the cells' growth responses during CNV. If such molecules can be identified, they may become an important target for new treatments and therapies.