Extracellular processes can influence intracellular processes and vice versa via two-way dynamic communications. For example, cell differentiation is influenced by the extracellular milieu – including the collagen matrix, and cells secrete proteases that modify the extracellular matrix (ECM). However, the current biological research is heavily focused on intracellular processes. Our goal is to elucidate the mechanisms of collagen fibril degradation by matrix metalloproteases (MMPs), an important extracellular process, and the mechanisms through which the ECM and extracellular cues communicate with embedded cells, and how embedded cells in turn control the ECM. We will focus on two specific research directions over the next 5-6 years:

Research Direction 1. Molecular understanding of collagen fibril degradation by matrix metalloproteases.

Research Direction 2. Applications of matrix metalloproteases beyond collagen degradation.