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Regulation of adult stem cell function

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Dr J. M. Pell (Jenny) – Group Leader

Affiliated member: Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell
Institute Group Leader: The Babraham Institute

E-MailTel: +44 1223 330269/334045
Fax: +44 1223 334100

Keywords

Stem cells, satellite cells, myogenesis, signalling, epigenetics, self-renewal, ageing

Investigator Biography

Jenny received her BSc and PhD degrees from the University of Reading, and then went to Cornell University (USA) to investigate the regulation of interorgan amino acid transport and tissue protein turnover. She returned to the UK and continued this interest by study of the role of the growth hormone-IGF axis in growth regulation, mainly at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge.

She was recently seconded to the Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge (and also became an Associated Member of the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute next door) to pursue her interest in the regulation of fate ‘decisions’ in adult stem cells (i.e. to self-renew or terminally differentiate) using adult muscle satellite cell as a paradigm.

The niche environment of stem cells has a major role in determining function. The principal aim of our current research is to define how these extracellular signals are transmitted to the cell and dictate alternative fates. In particular, we are interested in how signals are integrated at the epigenetic level to regulate gene expression. For example, we have established that the suppressive histone mark, H3K27me3 (catalysed by PRC2), is essential for muscle stem cell self-renewal. Part of the underlying mechanism is via removal of suppressive marks at the Ink4/Arf locus and subsequent upregulation of the cell cycle inhibitor p16. The ability of stem cells to regenerate tissue diminishes with age and we are examining the mechanisms by which this occurs, initially using RNA-seq to characterise genome-wide changes in expression profiles following injury-induced regeneration. A further key interest is in the essential role of RNA binding proteins in mRNA regulation in muscle stem cell behavoiur and regeneration.

Lab members

Miss Hema Bye-A-Jee (PhD student, located at The Babraham Institute)

 

If you are interested in our research (all levels from undergrad to postdoc), please contact Jenny.