Csaba's research career commenced at the cartilage research group at the Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology at Debrecen University in 2003. The primary research focus of the laboratory was the investigation of the role and function of protein kinases and phosphoprotein phosphatases during in vitro chondrogenesis. His project was to study the role of protein kinase Cmu (PKCμ or PKD) in the process of cartilage formation.
After graduation in 2004 as a molecular biologist, Csaba's PhD training and research has been in the field of signal transduction pathways during cartilage development. During this period,he established a successful collaboration with the Department of Physiology at Debrecen University and acquired new knowledge and methodology concerning calcium signalling. The 4-year PhD training was followed by a full-time appointment at the Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology first as a Postgraduate Lecturer. Csaba's PhD thesis comprised various aspects of signalling pathways during cartilage development in health and disease, focussing on Ca2+ homeostasis during chondrogenesis. After graduation, he was appointed as Assistant Lecturer in 2009, and then as Assistant Professor in 2013 at Debrecen University. In terms of dissemination, he has to date produced one published book, a book chapter, and 17 papers in internationally peer-reviewed journals with 11 papers in which he is the lead author. Moreover, he has attended both national and international conferences on a regular basis with oral and poster presentations. He has active and long-lasting collaborations with Prof. Nicolai Miosge's research group in Göttingen, Germany; and with Dr Eun-Jung Jin and her group in Iksan, South Korea. In 2014 he was awarded a 2-year Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, which enables him to relocate to the University of Surrey in England and further expand his research portfolio in the field of chondrocyte research, with special focus on membrane protein expression and function in arthritic chondrocytes.
Csaba's research group were the first to describe that a characteristic pattern of basal cytosolic calcium concentration could be detected during chondrogenic differentiation of avian mesenchymal cells with a definitive peak on culturing day 3. They also showed that mainly calcium influx from the extracellular space was responsible for the peak calcium level. According to their results, modest calcium level elevation significantly enhanced cartilage matrix production; however, any kind of modulation of cytosolic calcium levels beyond a certain threshold prior to or on culturing day 3 considerably augmented differentiation. They have also reported on the involvement of ionotropic purinergic (P2X) signalling pathways during chondrogenic differentiation, and an autocrine-paracrine purinergic regulatory mechanism of chondrogenesis in avian high density cultures was implicated. They also described that cells in chicken micromass cultures exhibited rapid spontaneous calcium oscillations that seemed to be required for chondrogenesis. They were the first to report on the function of molecules that orchestrate store-operated calcium entry (SOCE) in chondrocytes. More recently, the group has published an interesting study on the calcium homeostasis, as well as the expression and function of calcium handling molecules, and their roles in long-term calcium oscillations in a migratory progenitor cell population isolated from osteoarthritic knee cartilage.
Their research group has also made considerable progress in identifying the role of protein kinases and phosphoprotein phosphatases during chondrocyte differentiation. They identified protein kinase A (PKA) and protein kinase C delta (PKCδ), as well as the calcium-sensitive protein phosphatase 2B (PP2B; also known as calcineurin) as positive, while PP2A as a negative regulator of in vitro chondrogenesis. Most of these proteins act by phosphorylating/dephosphorylating the MAPK-ERK1/2 pathway in differentiating chondrocytes. Csaba has recently reviewed the literature published on the role of PKC isoenzymes and phosphoprotein phosphatases in chondrogenesis.