A genetic approach to study stem cell behaviour in their niches
Acaimo González Reyes
Higher eukaryotes contain populations of stem cells responsible for the homeostasis of adult organisms. Often, these populations are found in microenvironments or ‘niches’ that prevent the pull towards differentiation characteristic of most cell types. One such a niche has been described in the Drosophilaovary, where germline stem cells (GSCs) are found. My laboratory is devoted mainly to studying the biology of the GSCs from genetic, cellular and molecular perspectives.
We utilise genetic and genomic approaches to characterise the ovarian niche of Drosophila. We have identified a number of candidate genes that are presumably required for the correct homeostasis of the GSC niche. We are currently embarked on the genetic and molecular study of several candidates, including genes involved in extracellular matrix remodelling, cell signalling and cell-cell adhesion. Our interests extend beyond the ovarian niche and encompass other stem cell microenvironments, not only in the Drosophila ovary but also in other adult tissues. The techniques that we use include atomic force microscopy, live-imaging, global proteomic and genomic approaches, epigenomics as well as more classical strategies such as clonal analysis and mutagenesis.
In collaboration with Dr. Martín-Bermudo, we have recently shown that integrins are required in the follicle cells of the Drosophila egg chamber to orientate the mitotic spindle parallel to the germline. Thus, the monolayer characteristic of the follicular epithelium is ensured. We are extending these analyses trying to investigate how integrins control spindle orientation and additional roles that integrins may play during oogenesis.