Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Eric Lu L&S Sciences

The Role of VLDLR and LRP5 in Retinal Degeneration

Many eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and macular edema, are caused by the abnormal development of retinal vasculature. My project aims to better understand the signaling network that regulates this process by examining the function of two key molecules: Very LowDensity Lipoprotein Receptor (VLDLR) and Low Density Lipoprotein Related Protein 5 (LRP5). Previous studies have demonstrated that VLDLR promotes vessel growth while LRP5 inhibits it. Additional studies done by the Gong lab suggest that LRP5 plays a more dominant role in this process. In order to further characterize how and when LRP5 and VLDLR influence retinal vessel development, the lab has generated various mutant lines with the Sca1-GFP transgene, which allows for the direct visualization of endothelial cells lining blood vessels via green fluorescent protein (GFP) signal. Using fluorescence microscopy to examine and compare these endothelial cells of the retinal vasculature in wild-type and mutant mice, I will be able to determine the morphological changes in mutant endothelial cells. In addition, I will perform immunohistochemistryandreal-time PCR to localize and quantify the expression levels of CD105 and CD106, two molecules that are characteristic of growing vessels.

Message To Sponsor

SURF is an exciting opportunity for me because it will allow me to devote eight full-time weeks this summer towards collecting data that will culminate in my senior thesis. I am excited to continue my work here in the Gong Lab, and look forward to the summer!
Profile image of Eric Lu
Major: Molecular & Cell Biology
Mentor: Xiaohua Gong, Optometry
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