Description of Research Expertise
Tumor Biology, Development, Stem Cells, Hematopoiesis, Immune Function
Research Techniques: In vivo and in vitro models of hematopoiesis, transformation and immunity, retroviral transduction, bone marrow transplantation, ES cell culture and differentiation, cDNA cloning, cell sorting, video microscopy, knockout and RNAi technology, ChIP-Seq and global transcription analysis
Description of Research
A major area of interest of this laboratory is understanding the processes that lead to the development and differentiation of mature hematopoietic cells from a single hematopoietic stem cell. We are particularly interested in studying the processes that perturb these normal processes and cause leukemia. A primary focus of the laboratory is the role that Notch proteins play in regulating hematopoietic cell fate decisions and cancer. Notch proteins are a conserved family of receptors that regulate cell fate decisions in organisms ranging from Drosophila to humans. Using a variety of in vitro and in vivo approaches, we have shown that Notch proteins are key regulators of multiple hematopoietic cell fates. These include establishment of the T cell lineage and helper type 2 T cells. We are presently undertaking studies to identify the signaling pathways that control these and other cell fate decisions in hematopoiesis. In addition to their role in normal hematopoiesis, dysregulation of Notch signaling is a cause of human leukemia. We have developed a mouse model of Notch-related leukemia and are using this to study the signaling pathways that lead to oncogenic transformation. Using gene array and bioinformatics approaches, we have identified several direct transcriptional targets of Notch signaling that appear to mediate its effects in normal development and leukemia. In addition, we are developing and testing ways to block Notch signaling that may be useful in treating leukemia and other Notch-dependent diseases.
Rotation Projects for 2010
1. Characterization of Notch transcriptional targets in hematopoiesis and leukemia. This project will characterize potential direct transcriptional targets of Notch signaling that we have identified in a microarray screen. The project will involve verifying that these are direct transcriptional targets using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), EMSA, and reporter assays and then testing whether these targets are functionally important using retroviral transduction, apoptosis, proliferation, and differentiation in both primary and established cell lines.
2. Identification of genes that potentiate Notch transforming activity. We have induced a number of Notch T cell leukemias using retroviruses that express activated forms of Notch1. The retroviral vectors also contain enhancer elements that can activate transcription of genes in the vicinity of their integration site. We have established techniques to rapidly clone the genes that are activated by retroviral vector integration and will use both in vitro and in vivo assays to determine if they synergize with Notch to induce leukemia.
3. We have identified Tribbles as a novel oncogene in acute myelogenous leukemia. Very little is know about Tribbles function. This project will use biochemical and functional assays to determine the function of Tribbles in leukemia and normal hematopoietic development.
Katherine Forsyth, Graduate Student
Ethan Mack, Graduate Student
Vicki Mercado, Post-baccalaureate Scholar
Caitlin O'Neill, Administrative Assistant
Yumi Ohtani, Senior Research Investigator
Jelena Petrovic, Postdoctoral Fellow
Kelly Rome, Graduate Student
Sarah Stein, Postdoctoral Fellow
Lanwei Xu, Research Specialist/Lab Manager