Senanile Dlamini

  • PhD student, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • WP4.3: Tenocytes and interplay with osteoblasts/endothelial cells
  • Secondment to Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, September 2018-March 2019

Senanile is a PhD student in the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, working under the supervision of A/Prof Alison September, Dr Colleen Saunders and Prof Malcolm Collins. She is currently studying the development and application of a biological network mapping strategy to identify susceptibility loci for musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries. She used an in-silico tool known as the Bio-Ontological Relationship Graph (BORG) database, to develop a tendinopathy and anterior cruciate ligament rupture specific model of BORG which could be mined by ontology-seeded queries to identify unobvious tendinopathy and anterior cruciate ligament rupture candidate genes. Senanile updated the tendinopathy specific BORG semantic model to (i) integrate connective tissue associated signaling pathways, (ii) integrate known protein-protein interactions into the knowledge base, (iii) capture inflammatory signaling pathways and (iv) broaden the semantic network to include phenotypic features of anterior cruciate ligament ruptures (ACL) ruptures and to further test the feasibility and performance of the BORG in identifying tendon-, ligament- and inflammation-related novel genes in a candidate gene association study.

Within RUBICON Senanile will visit the laboratory of Dr Bram van der Eerden at ERASMUS MC in Rotterdam, Netherlands to study the expression profile of the HSPG2 and COL5A1 genes in differentiating tenocyte cultures and co-cultures with endothelial and mesenchymal stromal cell-derived osteoblasts. The expression profile will be compared in hypoxic and normoxic conditions while observing the calcification and angiogenesis processes, also investigating the expression profile of the HSPG2 gene in relation to BMP1, FGF9, TGFB1, TGFB2 genes, and including Scx and Tnmd as tendon markers.