Affiliation: Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, ES
Keywords: Reprogramming and Regeneration
In our group, we are investigating the mechanisms controlling the reprogramming of somatic cells, and our final goal is to determine if this reprogramming contributes to tissue regeneration in higher vertebrates.
Differentiation from zygotes has been considered as a unidirectional route in all cells of the body. Recently, however, it has become clear that the reverse path is also possible: the reprogramming of somatic nuclei, i.e. the de-differentiation of somatic cells into pluripotent stem-like cells. To date, reprogramming has been induced in vitro by transferring somatic nuclei into enucleated oocytes, by fusing embryonic stem cells (ESCs) with somatic cells, and by transferring specific factors into different types of somatic cell.
Whether reprogramming can occur in vivo in higher vertebrates and what the molecular mechanisms and genes driving reprogramming are remain to be defined. We have recently shown that activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway enhances reprogramming of somatic cells after their fusion with ESCs. Remarkably, the activation of this signalling pathway also controls regeneration in response to damage in lower and higher vertebrates; furthermore, cell fusion is one possible mechanism of regeneration in vertebrates. Our main goal is to determine whether in mice activation of Wnt/β-catenin signalling controls tissue regeneration by enhancing cell-fusion-mediated reprogramming.