The role of mechanical cues in guiding human pluripotent stem cell fate decisions
How do stem cells decide what type of cell to become? One way is by sensing their environment, in particular the stiffness of the tissue they are growing on, and Fima Zaltsman of the Kiessling Lab has studied this process in detail. Studying pluripotent stem cells — those with the ability to differentiate into any cell type in the body — he and his colleagues found that, for example, those that grow on soft surfaces similar to brain tissue give rise to nerve cells. He’s also characterized the complex array of proteins and signals that guide this cell fate decision. To learn more about his work, attend his Thesis Review on Monday, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. in Room 1211 of the HFD Biochemical Sciences Building.
Fima says he enjoys this work because it is a combination of basic research in cell and developmental biology but also has direct implications for therapeutic interventions.