Investigating thoracic aortic aneurysm pathogenesis at single-cell resolution. 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2024


Thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) is an abnormal widening of the aorta in the chest, caused by the weakening of the aortic wall. TAAs can lead to rupture or dissection, a devastating complication with a mortality rate of 50%. Despite considerable efforts to gain insights on the molecular mechanisms underlying TAAs, there is currently no therapy that effectively stops or reverses TAA development. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) is emerging as a ground-breaking technology to investigate gene expression at single-cell level and is opening new avenues to discover yet unexplored disease pathways. In my project, I will apply this technique to investigate a novel TAA disorder caused by bi-allelic pathogenic variants in the IPO8 gene, recently discovered in our Cardiogenomics research group. I will search for differentially expressed genes (DEGs) within the different aortic cell populations from an Ipo8-/- mouse model that recapitulates the human aortic aneurysmal phenotype. I will also investigate shared DEGs between Ipo8-/- mice and additional TAAs mouse models to find convergent disease pathways in clinically related TAA disorders. Subsequently, I will validate the role of the identified candidate culprits in mouse TAA development in a human setting, by using CRISPR-inhibition or -activation in iPSCs derived vascular smooth muscle cells or endothelial cells. The predicted outcomes will potentially pinpoint novel TAA drivers and hence, unveil potential new therapeutic targets.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project