Midline defects of the body wall account for approximately 5% of congenital abnormalities observed at birth. Defects in the closure thoracic body wall lead to conditions such as ectopia cordis (exposed heart), anomalous sternum and affect the normal development of the lungs. The molecular mechanisms underlying the formation of the ventral body are poorly understood.
We are currently studying models wherein perturbation to Wnt ligand secretion or reception impairs the thoracic body wall's closure, resulting in a malformed sternum, exposed heart, and abnormal pulmonary morphology. These studies will provide insights into the normal development of the body wall and abnormal body wall closure pathogenesis.