Ph.D., Yale University, 1997
Postdoctoral Research: University of California, San Francisco, 1997-2001
Lab website: http://sun.genetics.wisc.edu/
Address: 5264 Genetics/Biotech
Department: Medical Genetics
Research InterestsGenetics of Mammalian Development and Disease
Research FieldsDisease Biology
Human, mouse & rat
Vertebrate organogenesis follows stereotypic cellular programs, indicating precise genetic controls. Deviations from these programs result in birth defects. We study the molecular mechanisms of organogenesis using advanced mouse genetic, genomic, organ culture and imaging approaches. To grasp the general principles of organ formation, we have studied a number of tissues, including both external organs and internal organs. A current focus is on the lung, which is vital starting at the first day of life. The mammalian lung initiates as simple buds, which then undergo elaborate branching morphogenesis and cell differentiation to form a respiratory tree with specialized cell types and vast surface area to facilitate air passage and gas exchange. Postnatally, lung matures into one of the principal organs that combat air-bourn pathogens. Despite its importance, the molecular mechanisms underlying many aspects of lung development, maturation and response to injury are poorly understood and are the subjects of our study. Based on emerging similarities between cellular events in embryonic organ formation and adult organ homeostasis/regeneration, findings in organogenesis have prompted parallel investigations in lung stem/progenitor cell maintenance and activation. We anticipate that our research on lung will contribute to the understanding of the vast array of lung diseases including lung cancer and asthma.
Ferretti, E., Throckmorton, K., Mishina, Y., Nicolis, S.K. and Sun, X. (2011) Signaling through BMP
receptors promotes respiratory identity in the foregut via repression of Sox2. Development 138(5):
Zhang, Z., Sui, P., Dong, A., Hassell, J., Cserjesi, P., Chen, Y.T., Behring, R.R. and Sun, X. (2010) Preaxial Polydactyly, interactions among ETV, TWIST1 and HAND2 control anterior-posterior patterning of the limb. Development 137(20), 3417-3426.
Zhang, Z., Verheyden, J.V., Hassell, J.A., and Sun, X. (2009) FGF-regulated Etv genes are essential for repressing Shh expression in mouse limb buds. Developmental Cell 16, 607-613.
Harris-Johnson, K.S., Domyan, E.T., Vezina, C.M. and Sun, X. (2009) b-Catenin promotes respiratory progenitor identity in mouse foregut. PNAS 106(38), 16287-92.
Verheyden, J.V. and Sun, X. (2008) An Fgf/Gremlin Inhibitory feedback loop triggers termination of limb bud outgrowth. Nature 454, 638-641.