Alexander Awgulewitsch, Ph.D.
Alexander Awgulewitsch is Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the MUSC Transgenic Mouse Core Facility. He received a Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) degree at the Institute of Genetics, University of Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1984. He did postdoctoral studies in mammalian developmental genetics with Dr. Frank Ruddle at Yale University until 1988. That same year he was appointed Assistant Professor at the Department of Biochemistry at MUSC. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1992 before joining the faculty of the Department of Medicine in 1993.
The primary interest in Dr. Awgulewitsch’s research lab is studying the role of members of the phylogenetically highly conserved Hox gene family in embryonic patterning and disease. Hox genes act as transcriptional regulators of batteries of downstream target genes including “structural” (e.g. keratin and desmosomal cadherin genes), as well as other regulatory genes. Consequently, Hox genes have been implicated in a wide range of congenital malformations and diseases, including many forms of cancer and other degenerative diseases. Our approach to determining Hox-controlled disease mechanisms involves studying Hox transgenic and gene-targeted mice with defined physical defects and abnormalities by using DNA microarray and gene network analysis. A recent focus has been to define the control functions of specific Hox genes in hair follicle development and cycling; this is important because the hair follicle is emerging as an increasingly relevant model for mammalian development and stem cell biology.
In addition to studying these downstream functions, this lab is interested in defining transcriptional control mechanisms required for establishing the distinct spatio-temporal Hox expression patterns. An important tool for achieving this is the use of reporter gene analysis in transgenic mice, which allows defining tissue- and cell-type specific regulatory elements driving Hox expression during development and in adult tissues. These reporter gene mice are also very useful for cell lineage studies by tracking Hox expression patterns in distinct cell populations over time in vivo, as well as in vitro in tissue/cell culture after dissection from transgenic mice. We are currently using this approach to determine the phenotypic properties of distinct vascular cell populations and their control by Hox genes. This is an emerging field of significance for understanding Hox-dependent regulatory mechanisms underlying phenotypic changes of endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells in vascular diseases, as well as in angiogenesis associated with wound healing or tumor growth.
Dr. Awgulewitsch's Curriculum Vitae (PDF Format)*
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