Brant M. Weinstein PhD

Brant Weinstein


Brant Weinstein's Section on Vertebrate Organogenesis studies blood and lymphatic vessel formation during vertebrate embryogenesis.  Blood vessels supply every tissue and organ with oxygen, nutrients, and cellular and humoral factors. Lymphatic vessels drain fluids and macromolecules from the interstitial spaces of tissues, returning them to the blood circulation, and play an important role in immune responses. Understanding the formation of blood and lymphatic vessels is of intense clinical interest because of the roles that both types of vessels play in cancer and ischemia. The zebrafish, a small tropical freshwater fish, possesses a unique combination of features that make it particularly suitable for studying vessel formation; the fish is a genetically tractable vertebrate with a physically accessible, optically clear embryo. These features are highly advantageous for studying vascular development, permitting observation of every vessel in the living animal and simple, rapid screening for even subtle vascular-specific defects.

The Weinstein lab has pioneered use of the zebrafish as an important new model system for studying vascular biology.  The group developed many of the now widely used tools for studying the zebrafish vasculature, including a confocal microangiography method, a detailed anatomical atlas of the vasculature, numerous vascular-specific transgenic lines, and methods for high-resolution in vivo time-lapse imaging of developing blood vessels.  Using these and other methods, the group has made a number of novel and important discoveries, including a pathway for artery specification, a role for neuronal guidance factors in vascular patterning, a mechanism for vascular tube formation in vivo; and identification of the lymphatic vascular system in zebrafish.  Current studies use genetic screening, experimental analysis, sophisticated imaging technologies, and other methods to examine developmental angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, including cues directing vascular patterning and morphogenesis, regulation of vascular integrity, and assembly of the lymphatic system.

Selected Publications

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