A.2: Cell Fate Programmes and Plasticity in Pluripotent and Somatic Stem Cells
Stem cells harbour information for both individual cell differentiation and the formation of complex structures. Combining the expertise of Münster’s recent recruitments of experts in the field of stem cell biology, this project will characterize the biological principles that underlie the differentiation of embryonic and somatic stem cells into the three germ layers. Furthermore, we will address the motility of these cells, focusing on pluripotent stem cells and germ stem cells as well as neural stem cells as examples of somatic stem cells. In vivo imaging, in combination with stem cell transplantation, has already been established as an approach for exploring in vivo cell migration and differentiation. Another research focus involves deciphering the general principles underlying the establishment and maintenance of pluripotency and governing the reprogramming of differentiated cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). This approach will be combined with the development of reprogramming protocols for clinical applications and for the establishment of iPSC lines from patients with cardiovascular diseases and neuronal disorders. The central questions addressed are: What are the molecular mechanisms underlying the unlimited maintenance of stem cells, their differentiation and migration, and how can this knowledge be translated to clinical applications?