Sashko Damjanovski

Genetics & Development Dr. Sashko Damjanovski
Associate Scientist


Associate Scientist, Division of Genetics and Development, Children’s Health Research Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Western University

How my research helps children

Using frogs as developmental models, my lab is answering key fundamental questions about how cells interact with extracellular protein during very early development. Such interactions are important for proper development to occur and, as such, they could impact many disease processes including, those involved with skeletal development and dwarfism, vascular and cardiovascular development, and even later onset diseases such as asthma and joint problems.


Current Research Activities

Healthy tissue function requires proper cell adhesion, and this adhesion is in part provided by proteins collectively known as the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM can be cut and remodelled by proteins called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The function of MMPs is in turn regulated by TIMPs. Many cell types lose their normal functions when cell-ECM interactions are broken, in a process similar to the transformation of healthy cells into uncontrolled cancer cells. We use the frog, Xenopus laevis, as a model system to examine how specific ECM remodelling events control cell fate in specific tissues during development. Several embryological and microinjection techniques are used to investigate MMP and TIMP expression patterns and how they are related to ECM remodelling events, and diverse processes such as cell proliferation, migration and death.

Research Team

I currently have three PhD and three Masters students. There is also a variety of undergraduate students in the lab, whether summer Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards Program (USRA) researchers, carrying out 4th year research projects or performing work/study duties.

Awards & Grants

Awards & Grants

Funding in support of Regulation of matrix metalloprotease activity in Xenopus embryos and A6 cells – Awarded by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery Grant

Funding in support of Imaging and microscopy suite software and hardware upgrades – Awarded by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) RTI

Academic Development Fund – Awarded by Western University

Funding in support of Benchtop ultracentrifuge for subcellular fractionation of biological – Awarded by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Funding in support of High efficiency DNA transfer into mammalian and non-mammalian cells – Awarded by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Funding in support of A proteomic approach to identify key oxidant-sensing regulators of embryogenesis – Awarded by The University of Western Ontario

Funding in support of MMP activation during Xenopus development – Awarded by (NSERC)

Recent Publications


Knockdown of Pex11β reveals its pivotal role in regulating peroxisomal genes, numbers, and ROS levels in Xenopus laevis A6 cells
Fox MA, Nieuwesteeg MA, Willson JA, Cepeda M, Damjanovski S
In vitro Cellular and Molecular Biology - Animal. 2013 Nov; 14

Domain specific overexpression of TIMP-2 and TIMP-3 reveals MMP-independent functions of TIMPs during X laevis development
Nieuwesteeg M, Walsh LA, Fox MA, Damjanovski S
Biochem Cell Biol. 2012 Aug; 90(4):585-95

Analysis of MMP-dependent and independent functions of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2 on the invasiveness of breast cancer cells
Walsh LA, Cepeda MA, Damjanovski S
J Cell Commun Signal. 2012 June; 6(2):87-95

Expression analysis of the peroxiredoxin gene family during early development in Xenopus laevis
Shafer MER, Willson JA, Damjanovski, S
Gene Expression Patterns. 2011 Dec; 11(8):511-6

IGF-1 increases invasive potential of MCF 7 breast cancer cells and induces activation of latent TGF-beta1 resulting in epithelial to mesenchymal transition
Walsh LA, Damjanovski S
Cell Commun Signal. 2011 May 2; 9(1):10

PEX11β induces peroxisomal gene expression and alters peroxisome number during early Xenopus laevis development
Fox MA, Walsh LA, Nieuwesteeg M, Damjanovski S
BMC Developmental Biology. 2011; 11:24

Peptide Nucleic Acid Pt(II) Conjugates: A Preliminary Study of Antisense Effects in Xenopus laevis
Dodd DD, Damjanovski S, Hudson RHE
Nuc Acid Res. 2011; 30:257-263

Peroxisome biogenesis occurs in late dorsal-anterior structures in the development of Xenopus laevis
Cooper CA, Walsh LA, Damjanovski S
Dev Dyn. 2007 Dec; 236(12):3554-61

Membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinases and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-2 RNA levels mimic each other during Xenopus laevis metamorphosis
Walsh LA, Carere DA, Cooper CA, Damjanovski S
PLoS One. 2007 Oct 3; 2(10):e1000

Soluble membrane-type 3 matrix metalloprioteinase causes changes in gene expression and increased gelatinase activity during Xenopus laevis development
Walsh LA, Cooper CA, Damjanovski S
Int J Dev Biol. 2007; 51(5):389-95

Cloning and developmental characterization of Xenopus laevis membrane type-3 matrix metalloproteinase (MT3-MMP)
Hammoud L, Walsh LA, Damjanovski S
Biochem Cell Biol. 2006 Apr; 84(2):167-77

Additional publications



Phone: (519) 661-2111, x84704
Fax: (519) 661-3935
Email: sdamjano [at] uwo [dot] ca

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