I retired in the autumn of 2014 and closed my research laboratory after a 35 year independent research career, the final 21 years of which were in the Dermatology Department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I am currently a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at U.C.L.A. in Los Angeles.
The long-term research interest of my lab was to understand the mechanisms that regulate growth, differentiation, and malignant transformation of epithelial cells. Our major focus was the keratinocytethe cell type that forms stratified squamous epithelial tissues, which include the epidermis and the oral, corneal, conjunctival, esophageal, and exocervical epithelia. We studied several other epithelial cell types, as well: the mesothelial cell, which covers all surfaces within the peritoneal, pleural, and pericardial cavities and is the cell type from which the asbestos-induced cancer mesothelioma arises, and the myoepithelial cell, which surrounds the secretory units of the sweat, salivary, and mammary glands and provides structural integrity and contractility. We also studied prostate epithelial cells, tracheobronchial epithelial cells, bladder urothelial cells, and an epithelial cell type derived in culture from human embryonic stem cells.
Our research used human cell culture systems and a somatic cell genetics approach to understand how growth, differentiation, and motility are regulated in normal cells and identify alterations of these that result in cancer. The experimental tools we used included microscopy, genetic engineering using retroviral and lentiviral vectors, immunostaining, Western blotting, growth and motility assays, organotypic culture, flow cytometry, and Q RT-PCR. (See the Publications list on this website for our papers, available as pdfs).
The most recent research conducted by the Rheinwald lab was on two subjects:
The second was aimed at understanding the role of the transcriptional regulator p63 in regulating the set of genes expressed in common by a variety of epithelial lineages. p63 is required for the development of a large family of epithelial cells types including keratinocytes, urothelial cells, and tracheobronchial, prostate, and mammary epithelial cells. Most of these epithelial cell types stably maintain p63 expression in culture, but we found that one cell type loses expression in certain conditions of culture while retaining viability and proliferative potential. In doing so, it changes expression of hundreds of genes. We are investigating this cell type, as well as fibroblasts and other cell types that are naturally p63 non-expressing, after we have engineered them to express p63. Data analysis for this project is still ongoing in preparation for writing a paper on this research.
Finally, in addition to our research activities, the Rheinwald lab served for many years as a Cell Culture Core laboratory supported by a Skin Disease Research Center grant from NIH, providing human cell lines and culture methods to academic investigators. The Core is now run by Drs. Matt Ramsey and Sandra King of the BWH Department of Dermatology, supported by fees charged for the cell lines (see link on this website). I remain associated with the Core as a Scientific Advisor.
|© 2010 James Rheinwald|