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Transcription Factors and Self-Renewal

stem cell tumors

Stem cell tumors genetically
induced by manipulating
self-renewal mechanisms.

In all stem cells, keys transcription factors have been identified as master regulators of stem cell identity and function. However, in most adult tissues, how these factors are regulated and the detailed mechanisms by which they control stem cell function remain largely unknown. Our work using Drosophila may shed a new light on some of these conserved proteins.

Using genome-wide approaches we have identified several conserved transcription factors that are uniquely expressed in adult intestinal stem cells in flies. Although these proteins belong to conserved families that have been shown to play important roles in mammalian stem cells, very little is known about their function in flies. As in many cases in biomedical research history, we anticipate that the power of Drosophila genetics will allow us to rapidly understand the detailed function and regulation of these factors and will open new avenues in the investigation of these proteins in higher organisms, in particular in the context of tissue repair or cancer.

Several research projects focusing on some of the identified factors are currently underway in our laboratory. Collaborations with other research groups at the University of Rochester have been established to extend our findings to mammalian experimental models.

tumorous Drosophila intestines

Comparison between cross
sections of normal and
tumorous Drosophila intestines.

intestinal cells

Intestinal cells labeled
for a stem cell-specific
transcription factor (red).

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