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RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research Laboratory for Vascular Morphogenesis

Team Leader: Li-Kun Phng (Ph.D.)

Research Summary

Li-Kun  Phng(Ph.D.)

The establishment of a blood vascular system is essential for the development of many tissues. Tissue vascularization frequently occurs through angiogenesis, which consists of many cellular processes including polarized collective cell migration, anastomosis and lumen formation.

My laboratory aims to unravel fundamental mechanisms that regulate endothelial cell dynamics and coordination during blood vessel morphogenesis. Previous studies on actin cytoskeleton revealed that specialized actin structures of different dynamics and subcellular localization drive distinct steps of vessel morphogenesis. In the future, we will 1) investigate how force regulates endothelial cell dynamics and vessel morphogenesis, and 2) identify new molecular regulators of vessel lumen formation. Our long-term goal is to understand how upstream angiogenic signals and haemodynamic forces regulate force generation in endothelial cells and their behavior.

Main Research Fields

  • Biology

Related Research Fields

  • Biological Sciences


  • Blood vessel formation
  • Endothelial cell dynamics
  • Zebrafish

Selected Publications

Papers with an asterisk(*) are based on research conducted outside of RIKEN.

  • 1. Maung Ye SS, Phng LK.:
    "A cell-and-plasma numerical model reveals hemodynamic stress and flow adaptation in zebrafish microvessels after morphological alteration."
    PLOS Computational Biology 19(12), e1011665 (2023)
  • 2. Maung Ye SS, Kim JK, Carretero NT, Phng LK.:
    "High-Throughput Imaging of Blood Flow Reveals Developmental Changes in Distribution Patterns of Hemodynamic Quantities in Developing Zebrafish."
    Frontiers in Physiology 13, 881929 (2022)
  • 3. Phng LK, Belting HG.:
    "Endothelial cell mechanics and blood flow forces in vascular morphogenesis."
    Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology
  • 4. Kondrychyn I, Kelly DJ, Taberner Carretero N, et al.:
    Marcksl1 modulates endothelial cell mechanoresponse to haemodynamic forces to control blood vessel shape and size"
    Nature Communications 11, 5476 (2020)
  • 5. *Gebala V, Collins R, Geudens I, Phng LK* and Gerhardt H* (*equal contribution):
    "Blood flow drives lumen formation by inverse membrane blebbing during angiogenesis in vivo"
    Nature Cell Biology 18(4), 443 - 451 (2016)
  • 6. *Phng LK, Gebala V, Bentley K, Philippides A, Wacker A, Mathivet T, Sauteur L, Stanchi S, HG Belting, Affolter M and Holger Gerhardt:
    "Formin-mediated actin polymerization at endothelial junctions is required for vessel lumen formation and stabilization"
    Developmental Cell 32, 123 - 132 (2015)
  • 7. *Phng LK*, Stanchi F and Gerhardt H* (*corresponding authors):
    "Filopodia are dispensable for endothelial tip cell guidance"
    Development 140, 4031 - 4040 (2013)
  • 8. *Phng LK, Potente M, Leslie JD, Babbage J, Nyqvist D, Lobov I, Ondr JK, Rao S, Lang RA, Thurston G and Gerhardt H:
    "Nrarp coordinates endothelial Notch and Wnt signalling to control vessel density in angiogenesis"
    Developmental Cell 16, 70 - 82 (2009)
  • 9. *Hellström M, Phng LK, Hofmann JJ, Wallgard E, Coultas L, Lindblom P, Alva J, Nilsson AK, Karlsson L, Gaiano N, Yoon K, Rossant J, Ireula-Arispe ML, Kalén M, Gerhardt H and Betsholtz C:
    "Dll4 signalling through Notch1 regulates formation of tip cells during angiogenesis"
    Nature 445, 776 - 770 (2007)

Related Links

Lab Members

Principal investigator

Li-Kun Phng
Team Leader

Core members

Igor Kondrychyn
Research Scientist
Yan Chen
Postdoctoral Researcher
Haymar Wint
Postdoctoral Researcher
Guihua Chen
Technical Staff II
Jason Andrew Da Silva
Technical Staff I
Mingzhao Hu
Junior Research Associate
Emi Taniguchi

Contact Information

2F, RIKEN BDR Developmental Biology Bldg.C,
2-2-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku
Kobe, Hyogo
650-0047 Japan
Email: likun.phng [at] riken.jp