NCE (Year 7)


Stem cell investigators at UC Santa Cruz focus on fundamental issues in stem cell biology. In the past year the UCSC CIRM Shared Stem Cell Facility (SSCF) supported research that led to multiple publications and new sponsored projects. The SSCF has allowed our stem cell faculty to operate competitive research programs focusing on the genomic, molecular, and cellular mechanisms regulating stem cell self-renewal and differentiation in areas vital to furthering the goals of CIRM and the field of regenerative medicine.

UCSC stem cell research falls into three broad categories: (1) the basic biology governing stem cell identity, behavior, self-renewal, and early development, (2) cell fate determination in multipotent stem cells, and (3) the development of tools and technologies to facilitate stem cell research.
Work that took place in the SSCF over the past year includes:

• Discovering mechanisms underlying the unique biology of stem cell division, for example the role of the centralspindlin complex in dividing cells and SLIT/ROBO signaling in asymmetric stem cell division
• Insights into how chromatin regulators MES-4, PRC2 and MRG-1 influence “germline memory”
• Genome engineering of primordial germ cells to lay the foundation for “genomic rescue” of endangered species
• Understanding mechanisms of neural stem cell and retinal ganglion cell differentiation, and the functions of certain genes in neurological disorders and perturbed visual behavior
• Understanding early events in cortical neurogenesis and specifically, aberrations in ATRX, leading to neurodevelopmental diseases such as microcephaly, macrocephaly, and its role in pediatric and adult gliomas
• Defining the lineage potential of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells during normal homeostasis as well as upon transplantation
• Studies on the regulation of the mammary stem cell niche, which when dysregulated can lead to tumorigenesis, and the mechanisms by which breast cancer treatments can lead to drug resistance
• Studies of post-transcriptional gene regulation by IGF2BP, which is involved in embryonic development and tumor metastasis.

The CIRM shared facility has provided the necessary space, equipment, technical support, and knowledge to advance this work. The SSCF staff’s combined skills, experience, knowledge, and dedication ensures that each core within the facility is operating efficiently and in compliance with all regulatory requirements. In addition, in the past year, the facility purchased 88% of our goods and services from California suppliers, exceeding the CIRM target level of 50%. In summary, the SSCF enables UC Santa Cruz to help build the knowledge base required to make stem-cell-based therapies a reality.