Dr. Bin Ma

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Personal Information

Born in Zhengzhou, China
BSc. Lanzhou University, China (2001-2005): Biology
MSc. University of Groningen, The Netherlands (2005-2007): Medical & Pharmaceutical Sciences

Research Summary

Wnt signaling in cartilage development and degeneration

Wnts are secreted proteins that are essential for a wide array of developmental and physiological processes. They are thought to signal through several different pathways. Signaling through β-catenin, also referred to as canonical Wnt signaling, is the best characterized pathway and main focus of my current research.

Regulation of chondrogenesis and cartilage development by Wnt signaling has been extensively studied, however the underlying mechanisms need further investigation. Cartilage development is initiated by chondrogenesis. Various Wnt signaling components regulate chondrogenesis at the stages of mesenchymal condensation and/or cartilage nodule formation. β-catenin is at the centre of these pathways. We hypothesize that β-catenin may exhibit dosage effects during cartilage development. Therefore we exploit hypomorphic APC transgenic mouse model and conditional knockout APC15lox mouse model in which the mutation and deletion of APC gene in chondrocyte progenitors result in increased β-catenin levels, enabling the examination of cartilage formation at different developmental stages in mice having different β-catenin levels in chondrogenic cells. In addition, human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) serve as in vitro model for studying the function of Wnt signaling in chondrocyte differentiation.

Recent data suggest that abnormal Wnt signaling may contribute to cartilage destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) by regulating synthesis and degradation of cartilage matrix, chondrocyte apoptosis, and inflammation. Wnt signaling components have been found to be upregulated in OA cartilage. We are aiming to explore the potential pathologic role of canonical Wnt pathway in human chondrocytes and animal models. Besides, chondrocytes rapidly lose their differentiated phenotype during series of monolayer culture, a process known as dedifferentiation. Another purpose of my research is to investigate the global gene expression change and the correlation between Wnt signaling and dedifferentiation in human chondrocytes.

The results obtained from these studies will provide useful information for optimizing cartilage tissue engineering and implications for the treatment of cartilage degeneration.

Bin Ma defended his thesis titled “Wnt Signaling in Cartilage Development and Degeneration” on 12 September 2012

Contact details

E-mail: b.ma@utwente.nl