<b>Dr Mat Francois</b><br>
Group Leader, Genomics of Development and Disease Division<br>
Investigator, Centre for Rare Diseases Research<p>
P: +61 7 3346 2494<br>
E: m.francois@imb.uq.edu.au<p>
- lymphoedema<br>
- cancer metastasis<br>
- chronic inflammatory disorders
Dr Mat Francois
Group Leader, Genomics of Development and Disease Division
Investigator, Centre for Rare Diseases Research

P: +61 7 3346 2494
E: m.francois@imb.uq.edu.au

- lymphoedema
- cancer metastasis
- chronic inflammatory disorders

Transcriptional regulation of blood and lymphatic vessels

Lymphatic vessels are a vital component of the vascular system and are essential for immune surveillance and maintaining fluid balance. In the adult, aberrant formation of lymphatic vessels is associated with a wide range of diseases that include chronic inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer metastasis and lymphoedema.

Under these pathological conditions, the developmental programs that drive lymphangiogenesis become dysregulated. Therefore, understanding the molecular basis that governs normal lymphatic vessel development in the embryo is a prerequisite to further identify novel target genes and develop potential new therapeutic avenues to prevent aberrant development in adults.

Our research identifies and characterises key genetic pathways influencing lymphatic vascular development in the mouse embryo. We are using pre-clinical mouse models of cancer or lymphoedema to validate the central role of developmental programs that are reactivated in these diseases. This work will help us to develop a new class of compounds that will enable the pharmacological management of the lymphatic network, with the view to explore vascular development and establish the basis for drug development.

The experimental strategies we have pioneered to perform this translational research program rely on a range of tests and involve close collaborations with other IMB scientists and international research groups with expertise in zebrafish biology, medicinal chemistry and live imaging.

During the past 12 months, we uncovered the embryonic function of vascular endothelial growth factor D (VEGF-D), which controls how blood vessels develop and spread by modulating the activity of the transcription factor Sox18 in both mouse and fish model systems. By understanding the cellular and molecular modes of action of VEGF-D, we can develop targeted therapeutics to control vascular expansion during cancer to block tumour growth and metastasis.

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Research training opportunities 

Please see IMB's postgraduate website for more information. 

Key publications

View more publications by Dr Fancois via PubMed and via UQ Researchers.

Duong, T., Proulx, S.T., Luciani, P., Leroux, J.C., Detmar, M., Koopman, P., and Francois, M. (2012). Genetic Ablation of SOX18 Function Suppresses Tumor Lymphangiogenesis and Metastasis of Melanoma in Mice. Cancer Research 72:3105-3114. Epub 2012 Apr 20.

François, M., Caprini, A., Hosking, B., Orsenigo, F., Wilhelm, D., Browne, C., Paavonen, K., Karnezis, K., Shayan, R., Downes, M., Davidson, T., Tutt, D., Cheah, K., Lau, M., Stacker, S.A., Muscat, G., Achen, M., Dejana, E., and Koopman, P. (2008). SOX18 initiates lymphatic development in mice by direct activation of Prox1 expression. Nature 456: 643-647.

Hosking, B., Francois, M*., Wilhelm, D., Orsenigo, F., Caprini, A., Svingen, T., Tutt, D., Davidson, T., Browne, C., Dejana, E., and Koopman, P. (2009). Sox7 and Sox17 are strain specific modifiers of the lymphangiogenic defects caused by Sox18 dysfunction in mice. Development 136: 2385-2391. *co-first author

Downes, M., Francois, M., Fergusson, C., Parton, R.G., and Koopman, P. (2009). Vascular defects in a mouse model of hypotrichosis-lymphedema-telangiectasia syndrome indicate a role for SOX18 in blood vessel maturation. Human Molecular Genetics 18: 2839-2850.

Francois, M., Koopman, P., and Beltrame, M. (2010). F-group Sox key modulators in the development of the cardio-vascular system. Invited review. The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology 42: 445-448.

Group contacts

Dr Mat Fancois
Group leader
+61 7 334 62494
Mr Jeroen Overman
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62343
+61 7 334 62346
Ms Renae Skoczylas
Research staff
+61 7 334 62342
+61 7 334 62346
Dr Christelle Nguyen
Research visitor
+61 7 334 62062
+61 7 334 62346
Dr Cathy Pichol-Thievend
Research staff
+61 7 334 62062
+61 7 334 62342


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