Ponugoti Vasantha Rao
Richard and Kit Barkhouser Distinguished Professor

Research in our laboratory focuses on two areas of ocular diseases- cataract and glaucoma.

As it relates to lens biology, we are investigating cytoskeletal signaling pathways critical for lens development, cytoarchitecture, shape and function. Ongoing studies are focused on identification and characterization of plasma membrane cytoskeletal scaffolding proteins (e.g. Periaxin, ankyrins and dystrophin/dystroglycan) involved in regulation of lens fiber cell shape, alignment, tensile properties, membrane domain organization and channel protein activity, and to determine how dysregulation of membrane cytoskeletal scaffolding activity impacts these determinants of lens structure and function. Our studies are based on using both in vitro and in vivo models, and application of high resolution microscopy, mass spectrometry, biochemical and gene targeting approaches.

In the context of glaucoma, we are exploring the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in homeostasis of intraocular pressure and aqueous humor drainage with the ultimate goal of identifying novel molecular targets upon which to base the design of therapeutic glaucoma treatments.  Our laboratory is currently studying the extracellular and intracellular mechanisms (e.g. GDF-15, extracellular kinases and phosphatases, Rho GTPase/Rho kinase and the Autotaxin-LPA axis) that control cell morphology, cell adhesive interactions, plasticity, transdifferentiation, extracellular matrix synthesis, phosphorylation and organization, fibrosis and contractile properties of the trabecular meshwork, and aqueous humor outflow and intraocular pressure. These studies utilize both in vitro and in vivo models, and a combination of trabecular meshwork-derived primary cultures, perfusion studies, high resolution microscopy, mass spectrometry, biochemical, physiological and gene targeting approaches.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • Box 3802 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710
  • Wadsworth Bldg, Durham, NC 27710

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