A photo of Saulius Sumanas.

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



Biography & Affiliation


Saulius Sumanas, PhD, is interested in studying the molecular mechanisms of vascular development and applying his findings towards developing new treatment strategies for human vascular disorders. He has a broad background in molecular and developmental biology with a specific training and expertise in vascular developmental biology. He and his lab have been using a zebrafish model due to its multiple unique advantages. During his postdoctoral work he identified ETS transcription factor Etsrp/Etv2 as a key regulator of vasculogenesis. During the subsequent work in his laboratory, funded by R01 and other external and internal awards, they demonstrated in zebrafish embryos a distinct origin of arterial and venous progenitors which led to a new model of arterial-venous specification (Kohli et al., 2013, Dev Cell), analyzed how transcription factor Etv2 regulates the choice between vascular endothelial and cardiomyocyte lineages (Palencia-Desai et al., 2011, Development), determined novel roles for Etv2 and a related ETS factor Fli1b in developmental and tumor angiogenesis (Craig et al., 2015, ATVB; Baltrunaite et al., 2017, Angiogenesis), identified developmental signals which regulate specification and differentiation of the endocardium (Wong et al., 2012, Dev Biol; Palencia-Desai et al., 2015, Development), and identified COL22A1 as a candidate gene affected in intracranial aneurysms (Quynh et al., 2018, Dis Mod Mech).

Research Interests

Vascular development, angiogenesis, zebrafish models of human diseases

Academic Affiliation

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Developmental Biology


BS: Vilnius University, Biochemistry, Vilnius, Lithuania, 1995.

PhD: University of Minnesota, Department of Biochemistry, Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN, 2000.

Postdoctoral Fellow: University of California, Los Angeles, CA, 2002-2007.


Quynh VT, Leino D, Mowery SA, Bredemeier NO, Lafontant PJ, Lubert A, Gurung S, Farlow JL, Foroud TM, Broderick J, Sumanas S. Collagen COL22A1 Maintains Vascular Stability and Mutations in COL22A1 are Associated with Intracranial Aneurysms. Dis Mod Mech. 2018.

Davis JA, Koenig AL, Lubert A, Chestnut B, Liu F, Desai SP, Winkler T, Pociute K, Choi K, Sumanas S. ETS transcription factor Etsrp / Etv2 is required for lymphangiogenesis and directly regulates vegfr3 / flt4 expression. Dev Biol. 2018;440:40-52.

Casie Chetty S, Rost MS, Enriquez JR, Schumacher JA, Baltrunaite K, Rossi A, Stainier DY, Sumanas S. Vegf Signaling Promotes Vascular Endothelial Differentiation by Modulating etv2 Expression. Dev Biol. 2017;424:147-61.

Baltrunaite K, Craig MP, Palencia Desai S, Chaturvedi P, Pandey RN, Hegde RS, Sumanas S. ETS transcription factors Etv2 and Fli1b are required for tumor angiogenesis. Angiogenesis. 2017;20:307-323.

Koenig AL, Baltrunaite K, Bower NI, Rossi A, Stainier DY, Hogan BM, Sumanas S. Vegfa signaling promotes zebrafish intestinal vasculature development through endothelial cell migration from the posterior cardinal vein. Dev Biol. 2016;411:115-127.

Palencia-Desai S, Rost MS, Schumacher J, Ton QV, Craig MP, Baltrunaite K, Koenig AL, Wang J, Poss KD, Chi NC, Stainier DYR, Sumanas S. Myocardium and BMP Signaling Are Required for Endocardial Differentiation. Development. 2015;142:2304-2315.

Craig MP, Grajevskaja V, Liao H-K, Balciuniene J, Ekker SC, Park J-S, Essner JJ, Balciunas D, Sumanas S. Etv2 and Fli1b function together as key regulators of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. Arterioscl Thromb Vasc Biol. 2015;35:865-76.

Kohli V, Schumacher JA, Palencia-Desai S, Rehn K, Sumanas S. Arterial and venous progenitors of the major axial vessels originate at distinct locations. Dev Cell. 2013;25:196-206.

Wong KS, Rehn K, Palencia-Desai S, Kohli V, Hunter W, Uhl JD, Rost MS, Sumanas S. Hedgehog signaling is required for differentiation of endocardial progenitors in zebrafish. Dev Biol. 2012 Jan 15:361:377-91.

Palencia-Desai S, Kohli V, Kang J, Chi NC, Black BL, Sumanas S. Vascular endothelial and endocardial progenitors differentiate as cardiomyocytes in the absence of Etsrp/Etv2 function. Development. 2011 Nov;138(21):4721-32.