• Xinyu Dong, MS

    2022 Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award
    Xinyu Dong, MS

    Xinyu Dong, MS

    2022 Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award

    Institution: Vanderbilt University

    Project Title: Integrin-related Scaffold Alpha-Parvin Regulates Actin Turnover to Facilitate Kidney Ureteric Bud Development

    How would you sum up your research in one sentence?

    How does an integrin-related scaffold protein regulate kidney branching morphogenesis?

    Provide a brief overview of the research you will conduct with help from the grant.

    We aim to study the molecular mechanism of how cell-ECM interaction regulates the kidney ureteric bud (UB) branching. We have selectively deleted a critical scaffold protein (α-Parvin) which links the integrins (the major ECM receptors) to the actin cytoskeleton in the collecting duct at the onset of UB development. We characterize the branching process using in vivo models and ex vivo kidney transplants. Our cell culture model will allow us to study the molecular mechanisms of how α-Parvin regulates the actin cytoskeleton to facilitate cell migration and tubulogenesis.

    What impact do you hope your research will have on patients?

    Developmental defects of the kidneys are common. Identifying key molecules that regulate kidney development will help with the diagnosis and treatment of congenital kidney abnormalities.

    What are your career goals at the end of the grant period? Five years out? Ten years out?

    I will continue my career in science by doing a postdoctoral training in a basic science laboratory. Ultimately, I wish to become a primary investigator and run my own laboratory.

    What inspired you to focus your research in this area?

    Branching morphogenesis is an intriguing biological process. Despite common themes, organs branch differently. We know that cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interaction is critical for kidney ureteric bud branching morphogenesis, but how cell-ECM interaction contributes to branching is unknown. Using our mouse model which deletes the scaffold protein (α-Parvin) which links the integrins to the cytoskeleton, we would be able to probe the molecular mechanisms of cell-ECM interaction which allows the branching process.

    What advice would you give to others to encourage them to apply for this grant funding?

    To try relentlessly with experiments, to hypothesize bravely and to embrace the hypothesis that is tested wrong. But most importantly, take action to apply for the grant. You will not get a grant unless you try, and try again until you get it.

    Something you may not know about me is…

    I originally wanted to major in literature.

    In my free time I like to…

    Portrait sketch and paint. Play piano and read, mostly non-fiction.