Cell identity and developmental potential are determined by genetic programs. The laboratory studies genetic programs of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, and their differentiated progeny.
Stem cells and progenitor cells are isolated from human cord blood, bone marrow or peripheral blood and from mouse bone marrow, and cells are grown in vitro with specific cytokines. Cells are then induced to differentiate with yet another set of cytokine and/or differentiation factors. A particular focus is on studying mechanisms of genetic and epigenetic regulation, which impact on development of antigen presenting dendritic cells.
A further focus of the laboratory is on stem cell engineering and the generation of cells with wanted properties. This includes work on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) and on genome precision engineering with CRISPR/Cas. The objective is the identification of genes and factors with a determining function in stemness, lineage commitment and differentiation, including genes, factors and conditions that enlarge the developmental potential of cells.
Stem cells and their differentiated progeny develop in a highly specialized microenvironment ("niche"). Thus, a further objective of our research is to recapitulate conditions of this microenvironment in vitro for optimal growth and differentiation of stem cells and progenitor cells. This includes research on molecular mechanisms of cell-cell communication and cell migration. These studies are expected to provide valuable information for cell and tissue replacement therapy in regenerative medicine.