Jacob Hanna (Yaqub Hanna)
Host Institution (HI)
Weizmann Institute Of Science, Israel
Starting Grant (StG), LS3, ERC-2011-StG
The generation of animals by nuclear transfer demonstrated that the epigenetic state of somatic cells could be reset to an embryonic state, capable of directing the development of a new organism. The nuclear cloning technology is of interest for transplantation medicine, but any application is hampered by the inefficiency and ethical problems. A breakthrough solving these issues has been the in vitro derivation of reprogrammed Induced Pluripotent Stem “iPS” cells by the ectopic expression of defined transcription factors in somatic cells. iPS cells recapitulate all defining features of embryo-derived pluripotent stem cells, including the ability to differentiate into all somatic cell types. Further, recent publications have demonstrated the ability to directly trans-differentiate somatic cell types by ectopic expression of lineage specification factors. Thus, it is becoming increasingly clear that an ultimate goal in the stem cell field is to enable scientists to have the power to safely manipulate somatic cells by “reprogramming” their behavior at will. However, to frame this challenge, we must understand the basic mechanisms underlying the generation of reprogrammed cells in parallel to designing strategies for their medical application and their use in human disease specific research. In this ERC Starting Grant proposal, I describe comprehensive lines of experimentation that I plan to conduct in my new lab scheduled to open in April 2011 at the Weizmann Institute of Science. We will utilize exacting transgenic mammalian models and high throughput sequencing and genomic screening tools for in depth characterization of the molecular “rules” of rewiring the epigenome of somatic and pluripotent cell states. The proposed research endeavors will not only contribute to the development of safer strategies for cell reprogramming, but will also help decipher how diverse gene expression programs lead to cellular specification during normal development.
ERC funding: 1,960,000 Euro
Duration Start date: 2011-11-01, End date: 2016-10-31