We are interested in understanding the generation of cell fates. The division of stem cells can be linked to cell fate choices and we adress the question how stem cells manage to produce two different cell types through a single division. In the focus of our studies are neuroblasts, stem cells from the developing central nervous system of Drosophila.
We use cell and developmental biology approaches to try to improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that stem cells use to renew themselves while simultaneously generating daughter cells that will differentiate. This process is called asymmetric cell division and relies on the establishment of cell polarity, the orientation of the mitotic spindle and the differential segregation of cellular content to the daughter cells. In particular we focus on the dynamic changes of cell polarity through the cell cycle and its relation to cell fate decisions.
Drosophila neural stem cells offer the unique possibility to investigate the basic principles of asymmetric division of stem cells and the molecular mechanism that govern its control in a genetically tractable organism at single cell resolution providing research opportunities currently unmatched by most other stem cell models. In this way we hope to contribute to further our knowledge on how stem cells function during development and to deepen our understanding of their role in human deseases.