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Schossleitner – Vascular Barrier

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Vascular Barrier – Schossleitner lab

Our skin is an important barrier to pathogens, radiation, chemical or physical damage. To maintain this barrier function, as well as for immune surveillance, thermoregulation and wound healing activities, the skin needs a densely knit network of vessels that controls the flow of blood and lymph. The exchange of fluid, molecules and cells between blood and surrounding tissue is tightly controlled. We investigate blood vessels in the skin and search for ways to support vascular function in disease.

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About us

We are a team of researchers who are fascinated by the many functions of blood vessels. Vascular barrier function is critical for the maintenance of blood flow and tissue homeostasis. In endothelial and epithelial cells, the tight junctional complex safeguards a functional barrier. It comprises transmembrane components, such as claudins, occludin and junctional adhesion molecules (JAMs), as well as a dense plaque of cytosolic proteins. Tight junctional adaptor molecules, which link the tight junction complex to the cytoskeleton and to signaling pathways play an important role in the control of vascular barrier function.

For the first time, we have shown that one of these adaptor proteins, cingulin, is part of the endothelial tight junction complex and localizes signaling proteins to the membrane. We have demonstrated that it regulates claudin-5 mRNA and protein levels and that it plays a role in regulating endothelial permeability. However, the role of tight junctions in different vascular beds is far from understood. We aim to explore junctions in blood vessels in the skin and study their interactions with signaling pathways and the cytoskeleton to learn more about the contribution of tight and adherens junctions to vascular barrier function. This could result in a new treatment strategy against diseases characterized by vascular leak.