Research SummaryRNAi screen for novel genes regulating self-renewal and pluripotency of embryonic stem (ES) cells
Embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are capable of differentiating to any cell type in the body, holding promise for stem cell based therapy. Efficient use of ES cells or iPS cells for therapy necessitates a better understanding of the genes and the molecular mechanisms regulating stem cell properties – self renewal (ability to propagate in culture) and pluripotency (ability to differentiate to all cell types). The pluripotent state is established and maintained by core pluripotency factors – Oct4, Nanog & Sox2. These core pluripotency factors interact with various pathways involved in signalling, epigenetic regulation etc. There is growing evidence of various novel factors fine tuning and regulating pluripotency.
I am using RNAi based screens to identify novel factors regulating pluripotency of ES cells. The novel genes identified in the RNAi screens will be studied intensively to under stand their role in regulation of pluripotency. I am using the loss of function (Gene Knockout mice), gain of function and biochemical approaches to understand the molecular mechanisms by which the novel factors regulate pluripotency. This understanding may be useful to design, develop or optimise methods to efficiently and deliberately differentiate ES cells to specific cell types or lineages.