Stephan Huveneers (dept. Medical Biochemistry, location AMC) and Jan Van den Bossche (dept. Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, location VUmc) received a NWO Open Competition Domain Science - KLEIN. KLEIN grants are intended for realizing curiosity-driven, fundamental research of high quality and/or scientific urgency.

The KLEIN grant enables researchers to formulate and test creative, more speculative ideas and to realize scientific innovations that can serve as a basis for the research themes of the future. This round, a total of 16 applications have been awarded.

Endothelial junctions – forces guiding vasculation

Stephan Huveneers - The formation of new blood vessels is vital for embryonic development, but it is also involved in cancer. When laying down new blood vessels, cells move as a coordinated whole. This collective motion is made possible by means of tight contacts between individual cells. This migration of blood vessel cells is triggered by ‘leader cells’ that guide ‘follower cells’ by means of direct contacts. It was recently discovered that excessive mechanical stresses between ‘leader’ and ‘follower’ cells cause dedicated signal molecules to be recruited to these cell-to-cell contacts. We plan to identify the molecular systems involved in regulating the bonds between interacting blood vessel cells. We will then use advanced microscopy techniques to visualize the function of these molecules.

The regulation and function of a newfound immunometabolite in macrophages

Jan Van den Bossche - How does metabolism regulate the immune system? In much the same way as you and I need energy to perform an activity, the cells of our immune system require energy to protect us against pathogens. The way in which our immune cells metabolize their resources not only provides them with energy, it also regulates their functions. We are attempting to understand exactly how this works. We have previously discovered that a specific metabolite accumulates in activated macrophages (specialized immune cells that engulf and destroy pathogens). We aim to understand how this new ‘immunometabolite’ is induced and how it functions.

Source: NWO