morphogenesis and homeostasis of functional tissue barriers
Dr. Cristina Strong's long-term laboratory goal is to understand the morphogenesis and homeostasis of functional tissue barriers. Perturbations in this complex biological process often lead to inflammation and opportunistic infections. We use the mammalian skin as a model system to explore the molecular mechanisms governing protective barrier formation informative for human disease studies. The Epidermal Differentiation Complex locus (EDC) encodes proteins that are cross-linked together to form the barrier in the skin epidermis. EDC genes are coordinately expressed in the developing epidermis and are upregulated during barrier disruption. Using genomics, bioinformatics, molecular and gene targeting approaches, we are investigating molecular control of coordinate EDC gene expression through epigenetic, chromosomal structure, transcription factor, and regulatory element studies.
Our lab is also interested in bringing the bench to the bedside. Our translational research component seeks to identify the genetic basis of inflammatory skin diseases. We are currently using “next-generation” sequencing to identify risk genetic variants in targeted genomic regions of affected patients.