Dr. Lai-Chu Wu's research interest is in osteoimmunology; the interaction of signal pathways and trascription factors that regulate bone development and immunity.
Bones provide protection to vital organs and mechanical support to the body. They are also important for the regulation of blood, calcium and phosphorus and support of hematopoiesis in the bone marrow. Hence, bone physiology and immunity has an intimate relationship.
Bone remodeling is a dynamic process and bone mass is a balance between the activity of two cell types: osteoblasts for bone formation and osteoclasts for bone resorption.
Dr. Lai-Chu Wu's group has developed two transgenic mouse models to study bone development and inflamation. First, her group has generated knockout mice for a large zinc finger protein ZAS3 that is involved in transcription regulation, signal transduction, and protein turnover.
Those ZAS3-/- mice show adult onset of high bone mass. Biochemical and genetic studies show that ZAS3 is essential for osteoclast differentiation and function. The ability of ZAS3 to block osteoclast development and activity and the fact that ZAS3-/- mice have better bone quality suggest ZAS3 could be a target for the treatment of osteoporosis.
Second, her group used transgenic mice that contain a luciferase reporter gene whose expression is under the control of the happa B enhancer element, a lignad for ZAS3 and NFkB.
Using an in vitro imaging system, they study the effect of alternate medicine, including exercise and massage to alleviate inflammation responses, including bacterial infection and arthritis.