In the Mienaltowski Laboratory at UC Davis, our primary research questions are based in the development, maturation, and repair of musculoskeletal tissues, in particular on how phenotypes for cells like tendon peritenon- and tendon proper-derived progenitor cells differ by niche, or surrounding environment. Additionally, because collagen assembly and organization are important to functionally sound musculoskeletal tissue, we are interested in examining how collagen fibrillogenesis might be manipulated to achieve optimal recovery of connective tissues in repair. The ultimate goal is to determine if alterations in niche components and organization and/or interacting cell physiology can lead to alterations in repair pathways or tissue engineering strategies to prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries.
Our studies generally involve functional genomics as well as expressional (mRNA and protein) analyses, morphometric analyses, and biomechanical assays. Though past efforts have been primarily in horse and mouse, all animals are subject to musculoskeletal injury. Moreover, from performance species like dogs, horses, and us humans, to production species like cattle, swine, and poultry, painful musculoskeletal injuries and disorders are both costly and debilitating on so many levels.
In addition to tendon research, projects ongoing in the laboratory include analyses of genomics data to understand physiological processes in the horse, including retinal function and host-microbe relationships essential for the growth and well-being of horses. Furthermore, we have begun considering physiological processes involved in the growth of poultry and how management practices like diet affect muscle growth.