pt en

Franco, Cláudio

Vascular Morphogenesis


Postdocs positions available


The vascular tree enables appropriate blood distribution and supply to all tissues in several multicellular organisms. The vascular network is essential for embryonic development, growth and wound healing. Importantly, many human disorders arise from mis-patterning of blood vessels, such as in diabetic retinopathy, ischemia, stroke, or tumour angiogenesis.

The formation of a functional vascular network requires simultaneous peripheral sprouting of newly formed blood vessels into avascular tissues and remodelling of the primitive amorphous vascular plexus into a hierarchical network of arteries, capillaries and veins. These two processes are tightly regulated by molecular communication between cells in the tissue and endothelial cells (the cells lining the blood vessels). Notably, it is now becoming evident that endothelial cells need to coordinate their individual behaviours to enable coherent and functional vascular network formation.

The Vascular Morphogenesis Lab has the aim to understand the molecular mechanisms regulating coordinated endothelial cell behaviour during sprouting and remodelling phases of the angiogenic process.

  • Research Areas

    • Finding novel regulators of endothelial cell migration in sprouting angiogenesis
    • Molecular regulation of endothelial cell axial polarity
    • Effects of haemodynamic forces in vascular patterning
    • Novel anti-angiogenic therapies blocking tumour angiogenesis
  • Research Team

    • Ongoing Research Projects

      • 2013/2018 Investigador FCT

      • 2016-2019: Co-Coordinator of H2020-TWINN-2015 Tumour Biology consortium

      • 2016-2021: ERC Starting Grant

    • Prizes

      • 2013 FCT Investigator 2012 Award
      • 2013 Award Best Poster at Gordon Research Conferences on Angiogenesis, Newport, USA.
      • 2010 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship for Career Development.
      • 2006 Award Best Poster at Meeting "Printemps de la Cardiologie de la Sociéte Française de Cardiologie", Toulouse, France.
    • Selected Publications

      • Franco CA and Gerhardt H. Blood flow boosts BMP signaling to keep vessels in shape.        J Cell Biol. 2016 Sep 26;214(7):793-5.

      • Franco CA, Jones ML, Bernabeu MO, Vion AC, Barbacena P, Fan J, Mathivet T, Fonseca CG, Ragab A, Yamaguchi TP, Coveney PV, Lang RA, Gerhardt H. Non-canonical Wnt signaling modulates the endothelial shear stress flow sensor in vascular remodeling. eLIFE 2016 Feb 4;5. pii: e07727.

      • Quetier I, Marshall JJT, Spencer‐Dene B, Lachmann S, Casamassima A, Franco CA, Escuin S, Worrall JT, Baskaran P, Rajeeve V, Howell M, Copp AJ, Stamp G, Rosewell I, Cutillas P, Gerhardt H, Parker PJ,  Cameron AJM. Knockout of the PKN family of Rho effector kinases reveals a non-redundant role for PKN2 in developmental mesoderm expansion. CELL Reports 2016 Jan 26;14(3):440-8.

      • Wilhelm K, Happel K, Eelen G, Schoors S, Oellerich MF, Lim R, Zimmermann B, Aspalter IM, Franco CA, Boettger T, Braun T, Fruttiger M, Rajewsky K, Keller C, Brüning JC, Gerhardt H, Carmeliet P, Potente M FOXO1 couples metabolic activity and growth state in the vascular endothelium. Nature. 2016 Jan 14;529(7585):216-20.

      • Franco CA, Jones M, Geudens I, Bernabeu MO, Ragab A, Collins RT, Phng LK, Coveney PV, Gerhardt H. Dynamic endothelial cell rearrangements drive developmental vessel regression. PLoS Biol 13(4):e1002125.

      • Bernabeu MO, Jones M, Nielsen JH, Kruger T, Nash RW, Groen D, Hetherington J, Gerhardt H, Franco CA*, Coveney PV*. Computer simulations reveal complex distribution of haemodynamic forces in a mouse retina model of angiogenesis. J R Soc Interface. 2014 Oct 6;11(99). pii: 20140543; *co-last.

      • Bentley K, Franco CA, Philippides A, Blanco R, Dierkes M, Gebala V, Stanchi F, Jones J, Cagna G, Kutschera S, Claesson-Welsh L, Vestweber D, Gerhardt H. The role of differential VE-cadherin dynamics in cell rearrangement during angiogenesis. Nat Cell Biol. 2014 Apr;16(4):309-21.

      • Franco CA, Blanc J, Parlakian A, Blanco R, Aspalter IM, Kazakova N, Diguet N, Mylonas E, Gao-Li J, Vaahtokari A, Fruttiger M, Rosewell I, Mericskay M, Gerhardt H, Li Z. SRF selectively controls tip cell invasive behavior in angiogenesis. Development. 2013 Jun;140(11):2321-33.

      • Stenzel D*, Franco CA*, Estrach S, Mettouchi A, Sauvaget D, Rosewell I, Schertel A, Armer H, Domogatskaya A, Rodin S, Tryggvason K, Collinson L, Sorokin L, Gerhardt H. Endothelial basement membrane limits tip cell formation by inducing Dll4/Notch signalling in vivo. EMBO Rep. 2011 Oct 28;12(11):1135-43. *co-first.

      • Guarani V, Deflorian G*, Franco CA*, Krüger M, Phng LK, Bentley K, Toussaint L, Dequiedt F, Mostoslavsky R, Schmidt MH, Zimmermann B, Brandes RP, Mione M, Westphal CH, Braun T, Zeiher AM, Gerhardt H, Dimmeler S, Potente M. Acetylation-dependent regulation of endothelial Notch signalling by the SIRT1 deacetylase. Nature. 2011 May 2;473(7346):234-8. *co-second.

      • Jakobsson L, Franco CA, Bentley K, Collins RT, Ponsioen B, Aspalter IM, Rosewell I, Busse M, Thurston G, Medvinsky A, Schulte-Merker S, Gerhardt H. Endothelial cells dynamically compete for the tip cell position during angiogenic sprouting. Nat Cell Biol. 2010 Oct;12(10):943-53.

      • Franco CA, Mericskay M, Parlakian A, Gary-Bobo G, Gao-Li J, Paulin D, Gustafsson E, Li Z. Serum response factor is required for sprouting angiogenesis and vascular integrity. Dev Cell, 2008. Sep;15(3):448-61.

    This site uses cookies. Some of the cookies we use are essential for parts of the site to operate and have already been set.
    You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but parts of the site will not work.