Deciphering the function of the pancreas and liver.
The Sosa-Pineda Lab
The function of the pancreas and liver is essential to maintain body homeostasis, and conditions that afflict these organs can result in severe life-threatening diseases. A major aspect of our research focuses on deciphering how the complex architecture of the hepatopancreas is established during development, and how is disrupted and repaired after injury. We use genetically modified mouse models in combination with conventional and cutting-edge technologies to interrogate the function of selected transcription factors during pancreas and liver development, to identify the molecular mechanism(s) controlled by those factors, and to characterize the regulatory networks in which they participate. Our next goal is to use these and other complementary techniques (including iPSC– and ESC-derived organoids) to study key aspects of human pancreas and liver development, and apply this knowledge to the production of clinically relevant human tissues.
Our research also takes advantage of genetically modified mice to sudy mechanisms that promote neoplastic transformation and genomic instability in the pancreas, processes that help re-establishing zonation in the injured liver, and mechanisms that regulate the plasticity of mature pancreatic acinar cells.
Browse Our Work
Pancreatic acinar cells (left) produce digestive enzymes. Oncogenes transform acinar cells into neoplasias (right). We investigate processes driving acinar differentiation and transformation.
A new Northwestern Medicine study sheds light on the complex phenomenon of liver zonation, showing that a protein known as Wnt, secreted from specialized endothelial cells, is required for correct placement of tight junction and cell adhesion proteins within the organ.
Hepatoblasts are the precursors of hepatocytes and bile duct cells in the embryonic liver. We study the regulatory network that coordinates precursor morphogenesis with cell differentiation in the liver.
Lewis PL, Su J, Yan M, Meng F, Glaser SS, Alpini GD, Green RM, Sosa-Pineda B, Shah RN. Complex bile duct network formation within liver decellularized extracellular matrix hydrogels. Sci Rep. 8(1):12220, 2018. PMCID: PMC6093899.