Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) lie at the top of the stem cell hierarchy with the unique features, immortality and pluripotency. PSCs maintain their identity through indefinite proliferation while having an ability to produce all cell types in our body. Due to these interesting features, PSCs have provided an unprecedented experimental system for cellular and developmental biology and translational medicine. However, fundamental mechanisms governing immortality and pluripotency of PSCs have not been fully understood. Our lab is interested in discovering novel molecular and cellular mechanisms for PSC proliferation and differentiation. Of particular interest is intra-population heterogeneity within a stem cell population. How different are single cells in a PSC population? What is biological significance between intra- and inter-population differences? How do single cell phenomena result in population effects? Key problems in the stem cell field such as the maintenance of stemness, differentiation decisions and lineage diversity hinge on how cells resolve these questions. We will use cutting-edge single cell technologies such as single-molecule RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH), live-cell imaging, and single cell sequencing to seek answers for these questions. Furthermore, fundamental principles we discovered will be exploited to develop new techniques for therapeutic applications of PSCs.
Major Research Areas