Dr. Vertel's research is concerned with the formation of extracellular matrix. Her studies emphasize matrix production in cartilage, and are based on the idea that normal matrix formation is regulated through synthetic, processing and quality control events that occur in distinct subcellular compartments prior to secretion. The laboratory uses immunohistochemical, biochemical, and molecular approaches in conjunction with live cell imaging to develop a broad view of the formation of extracellular matrix. Experiments are focused on intracellular events within cartilage cells involved in the synthesis, processing and quality control of aggrecan and other matrix molecules, and on the underlying mechanisms. Immunolocalization at the levels of light and electron microscopy is used to visualize coordinate biosynthesis and matrix deposition, while biochemical studies provide complementary information about processing and biosynthetic intermediates of matrix molecules. Genetic constructs are utilized in transfection experiments and live cell imaging studies using GFP-tagged versions of the proteins. Models of chondrodystrophies are under active investigation.