Year 4

Stem cell researchers at UC Santa Cruz continue to focus on fundamental issues in stem cell biology. This year the UCSC CIRM Shared Stem Cell Facility (SSCF) supported research advances that lead to seven publications and several additional sponsored projects. The opportunities provided by SSCF resources have 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’s contributions to stem cell research fall 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.

Highlights from this report include

• The role of reprogramming factors in embryogenesis
• A unique response of stem cells to double-strand DNA breaks
• Approaches for determining the identities and roles of chromatin regulators involved in germline status, pluripotency, and differentiation
• Studies on neural stem cell differentiation, identification of transcription factors involved in retina ganglion cell development in the eye, and non-protein coding regions of the genome regulating nervous system development
• Work that is defining hematopoietic differentiation pathways, cell trafficking, and engraftment
• Studies on the regulation of the mammary stem cell niche, which when deregulated can lead to tumorigenesis

This work has advanced because of the opportunities afforded by our CIRM shared facility, which provides the necessary space, equipment, technical support, and knowledge. The SSCF staff has combined skills, experience, knowledge, and dedication to ensure each core within the facility is operating efficiently, optimally, and in compliance with all regulatory requirements. In addition, in the past year, the facility purchased over 85% of our goods and services from California suppliers, exceeding the CIRM target level of 50%. In sum, the SSCF enables UC Santa Cruz to increase the knowledge base required to make stem-cell-based therapies a reality.