Grants awarded

Heterogeneities in stem cell mechanics during division and exit from pluripotency

Grantholder:

Dr Agathe Chaigne

University College London

United Kingdom

Some cells can divide asymmetrically, which means that the two cells that are formed will have different sizes, content and/or fate. Stem cells that have the ability to self-renew and give rise to different cell types are usually thought to be able to undergo asymmetric divisions. However, it is not known if embryonic stem cells that are able to give rise to all cells in the organism undergo asymmetric divisions, and whether this influences which type of cells they become.

We will examine whether asymmetries in size, content or physical properties arise during embryonic stem cell division in mice. Since these cells also form colonies, we will also investigate how stem cell division is influenced by the position of the cell within a colony. We will induce asymmetric divisions and track the fate of the two cells.This will allow us to understand how mechanical forces influence the cells’ long-term fate.

This research will give us new understanding of the biology of stem cell division, which is essential for controlled application of embryonic stem cells in regenerative medicine.