Stem cells have the capacity to self-renew while retaining the ability to differentiate into at least one, but usually multiple, different cell types. Clearly a specific pattern of gene expression is required to maintain the stem cell in a proliferating but undifferentiated state. Stem cells and progenitors are also unique in that they are able to initiate distinctly different programs of gene expression as they differentiate into different cell types. Stem cells of all types have attracted considerable interest in recent years and a great deal of emphasis has been placed on their potential to provide new treatments, particularly in the area of regenerative medicine. All existing stem cell therapies, as well as future therapies, depend on stem cells expressing the required pattern of genes at the correct time.
The aim of our laboratory is to understand how the balance between proliferation and differentiation of stem cells is maintained.
One important aspect of this is to define the role of co-activators of transcription in stem and progenitors cells during embryonic development and in adults. We are particularly interested in the function of the MYST family of histone acetyltransferases in stem cell populations. We have shown that Moz is essential for the development of haematopoietic stem cells whereas Qkf has an essential role in adult neural stem cells.
We are currently investigating the function of the MYST family, particularly Moz and Qkf, during embryonic development and in adult stem cell populations.