Dr. Kaartinen’s laboratory is interested in underlying molecular reasons that lead to a formation of common craniofacial and cardiac birth defects in human newborn babies. Their particular interest is in TGF-beta/BMP superfamily signaling. They have a long history of using gene targeting in mouse ES cells and subsequent generation of knockout, knockin and conditional/tissue-specific knockout mice, which form a primary research model in their research laboratory.
Dr. Kaartinen’s laboratory is currently investigating a role TGF-beta superfamily signaling in lip fusion, and differentiation and anterior-posterior patterning of the palatal epithelium, regulation of TGF-beta3 expression in the palatal epithelium and the role of TGF-beta3 signaling in the palatal mesenchyme. Moreover, they currently study the role of a novel negative regulator of TGF-beta signaling (Trim33) in craniofacial development, and they have a project to identify micro-RNAs that regulate gene expression in the prefusion palatal epithelium.
Studies on cardiac development include investigations on a role of TGF-beta signaling via the Alk5 receptor in the epicardium, the role of Alk2 mediated signaling in outflowt tract and aortic valve development, and BMP type I receptor signaling interactions in atrio-ventricular canal transformation.