A quantitative and dynamical approach to understanding cell state transitions


  • Prof Nancy Papalopulu

    University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Project summary

Our bodies are made up of many specialised cell types, derived from so-called stem cells that are initially undecided and plastic, Understanding the decision-making process that leads to cell type specialisation is key to understanding the normal formation of an organism. Within cells, the genetic material is organised into genes and a widely accepted view is that genes are either in an "on" or "off" position, which ultimately determines what the cell becomes. However, recent advances in studying the behaviour of genes in real time have revealed that some key controlling genes can also alternate between and "on" and "off" state, much like a pendulum. In this work, we will be examining the hypothesis that this alternating (e.g. "oscillatory") behaviour is important for undecided cells such as stem cells, because it gives them precisely the ability to change into different cell types and we will find out how this happens.