Stem cells (SCs) are defined by their virtually unlimited proliferative potential and multi-lineage differentiation capacity. Since they reside and self-renew for extended periods of time, they are subjected to continuous insults, thus positioning them at a high risk of accumulating mutations. A fundamental mechanism for the proper development and tissue homeostasis is apoptosis, which is responsible for the elimination of undesired and potentially dangerous cells. However, despite great advances in uncovering the key components of the apoptotic machinery, surprisingly little is known regarding the role of apoptosis in regulating different aspects of SC biology and its possible effect on SC-dependent processes such as regeneration and cancer.
The lab has two general goals:
(I) To investigate the role of the apoptotic machinery proteins in regulating SC-dependent processes.
(II) To elucidate and characterize novel SC populations that contribute to regeneration and tumor formation.
For these aim, we primarily utilize the murine skin , which serves as ideal system for our studies. The murine epidermis is constantly being replenished by different pools of SCs, is readily accessible and can be engineered genetically in a fashion that enables conditional and inducible gene manipulation. Data emerging from our research has the potential to dramatically forward our basic understanding of SC biology, elucidate novel functional pathways and advance novel SC based approaches for cancer therapy and regenerative medicine.