Pavle Vrljicak

Terry Fox Laboratory, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Publications (9)36.21 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Since the sequencing of the human reference genome, many human disease-related genes have been discovered. However, understanding the functions of all the genes in the genome remains a challenge. The biological activities of these genes are usually investigated in model organisms such as mice and zebrafish. Large-scale mutagenesis screens to generate disruptive mutations are useful for identifying and understanding the activities of genes. Here, we report a multifunctional mutagenesis system in zebrafish using the maize Ds transposon. Integration of the Ds transposable element containing an mCherry reporter for protein trap events and an EGFP reporter for enhancer trap events produced a collection of transgenic lines marking distinct cell and tissue types, and mutagenized genes in the zebrafish genome by trapping and prematurely terminating endogenous protein coding sequences. We obtained 642 zebrafish lines with dynamic reporter gene expression. The characterized fish lines with specific expression patterns will be made available through the European Zebrafish Resource Center (EZRC), and a database of reporter expression is available online ( Our approach complements other efforts using zebrafish to facilitate functional genomic studies in this model of human development and disease.
    G3-Genes Genomes Genetics 06/2015; 5(6):1283-1299. DOI:10.1534/g3.114.015842 · 3.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Valvuloseptal defects are the most common congenital heart defects. Notch signaling-induced endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in the atrioventricular canal (AVC) cushions at murine embryonic day (E)9.5 is a required step during early valve development. Insights to the transcriptional network that is activated in endocardial cells (EC) during EMT and how these pathways direct valve maturation are lacking. Results: We show that at E11.5, AVC-EC retain the ability to undergo Notch-dependent EMT when explanted on collagen. EC-Notch inhibition at E10.5 blocks expression of known mesenchymal genes in E11.5 AVC-EC. To understand the genetic network and AVC development downstream of Notch signaling beyond E9.5, we constructed Tag-Seq libraries corresponding to different cell types of the E11.5 AVC and atrium in wild-type mice and in EC-Notch inhibited mice. We identified 1,400 potential Notch targets in the AVC-EC, of which 124 are transcription factors (TF). From the 124 TFs, we constructed a transcriptional hierarchy and identify 10 upstream TFs within the network. Conclusions: We validated 4 of the upstream TFs as Notch targets that are enriched in AVC-EC. Functionally, we show these 4 TFs regulate EMT in AVC explant assays. These novel signaling pathways downstream of Notch are potentially relevant to valve development.
    Developmental Dynamics 07/2014; 243(7). DOI:10.1002/dvdy.24127 · 2.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Malformations of the cardiovascular system are the most common type of birth defect in humans, frequently affecting the formation of valves and septa. During heart valve and septa formation, cells from the atrio-ventricular canal (AVC) and outflow tract (OFT) regions of the heart undergo an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) and invade the underlying extracellular matrix to give rise to endocardial cushions. Subsequent maturation of newly formed mesenchyme cells leads to thin stress-resistant leaflets. TWIST1 is a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor expressed in newly formed mesenchyme cells of the AVC and OFT that has been shown to play roles in cell survival, cell proliferation and differentiation. However, the downstream targets of TWIST1 during heart valve formation remain unclear. To identify genes important for heart valve development downstream of TWIST1, we performed global gene expression profiling of AVC, OFT, atria and ventricles of the embryonic day 10.5 mouse heart by tag-sequencing (Tag-seq). Using this resource we identified a novel set of 939 genes, including 123 regulators of transcription, enriched in the valve forming regions of the heart. We compared these genes to a Tag-seq library from the Twist1 null developing valves revealing significant gene expression changes. These changes were consistent with a role of TWIST1 in controlling differentiation of mesenchymal cells following their transformation from endothelium in the mouse. To study the role of TWIST1 at the DNA level we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation and identified novel direct targets of TWIST1 in the developing heart valves. Our findings support a role for TWIST1 in the differentiation of AVC mesenchyme post-EMT in the mouse, and suggest that TWIST1 can exert its function by direct DNA binding to activate valve specific gene expression.
    PLoS ONE 07/2012; 7(7):e40815. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0040815 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Valve formation during embryonic heart development involves a complex interplay of regional specification, cell transformations, and remodeling events. While many studies have addressed the role of specific genes during this process, a global understanding of the genetic basis for the regional specification and development of the heart valves is incomplete. We have undertaken genome-wide transcriptional profiling of the developing heart valves in the mouse. Four Serial Analysis of Gene Expression libraries were generated and analyzed from the mouse atrio-ventricular canal (AVC) at embryonic days 9.5-12.5, covering the stages from initiation of endothelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) through to the beginning of endocardial cushion remodeling. We identified 14 distinct temporal patterns of gene expression during AVC development. These were associated with specific functions and signaling pathway members. We defined the temporal distribution of mesenchyme genes during the EMT process and of specific Notch and transforming growth factor-beta targets. This work provides the first comprehensive temporal dataset during the formation of heart valves. These results identify molecular signatures that distinguish different phases of early heart valve formation allowing gene expression and function to be further investigated.
    Physiological Genomics 12/2009; 40(3):150-7. DOI:10.1152/physiolgenomics.00142.2009 · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    T M Alie · P J Vrljicak · D B Myburgh · I R Gupta
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    ABSTRACT: Embryonic kidney explants are routinely used to study the molecular regulation of kidney development. One of the major technical challenges has been the need to express transgenes at high levels for prolonged periods of time. Existing protocols derived from work with the chick have used microinjection and electroporation with low voltage and long pulse time. In this study, we show that a high voltage with a short pulse time is preferable for mouse kidney explants. Using these conditions, gene expression is enhanced 10-fold over a 96-h period in culture with minimal toxicity. Furthermore, by modifying the site of microinjection, the ureteric bud or the metanephric mesenchyme can be targeted. We suggest that our described conditions will make microinjection and electroporation a more effective method to study gene function in the developing mouse kidney.
    Kidney International 08/2007; 72(1):121-5. DOI:10.1038/ · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    Developmental Biology 06/2007; 306(1). DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.03.327 · 3.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We analyzed 8.55 million LongSAGE tags generated from 72 libraries. Each LongSAGE library was prepared from a different mouse tissue. Analysis of the data revealed extensive overlap with existing gene data sets and evidence for the existence of approximately 24,000 previously undescribed genomic loci. The visual cortex, pancreas, mammary gland, preimplantation embryo, and placenta contain the largest number of differentially expressed transcripts, 25% of which are previously undescribed loci.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2006; 102(51):18485-90. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0509455102 · 9.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Signaling by the transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta superfamily is important during kidney development. Here, we describe the spatial and temporal expression patterns of the Smads, the transcription factors that translate TGF- signals into gene expression. RT-PCR data and in situ hybridization analysis showed that the receptor-regulated (R) Smads (Smad1, -2, -3, -5, and -8), the common partner Smad (Smad4), and the inhibitory (I) Smads (Smad6 and -7) were all expressed during mouse kidney development from embryonic day 12 until the end of nephrogenesis at postnatal day 15. Each Smad had a distinct spatial distribution. All were expressed by mesenchymal cells in the nephrogenic zone and were downregulated once these cells began to epithelialize. The common partner Smad, Smad4, was present in uninduced mesenchymal cells and at ureteric bud tips. The bone morphogenetic-responsive R-Smads, Smad1, -5, and -8, were mainly expressed in the nephrogenic zone, whereas the TGF-- responsive R-Smads were predominantly noted in the medullary interstitium. Expression of the I-Smad Smad7 was also seen in mesenchymal cells in the interstitium. Based on the observed patterns of expression, we speculate that individual or combinations of Smads may play specific roles in cell-fate determination during kidney development.
    American journal of physiology. Renal physiology 05/2004; 286(4):F625-33. DOI:10.1152/ajprenal.00152.2003 · 3.25 Impact Factor
  • Pavle J. Vrljicak
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    ABSTRACT: Written for the Dept. of Human Genetics. Thesis (M.Sc.). Includes bibliographical references.

Publication Stats

151 Citations
36.21 Total Impact Points


  • 2006–2014
    • Terry Fox Laboratory
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2009–2012
    • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
      • • Department of Medical Genetics
      • • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2004–2007
    • McGill University
      • Department of Pediatrics
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada