Stem cells have the unique ability to divide asymmetrically and generate both self-renewing and differentiating daughter cells. In the Knoblich lab, we use Drosophila and mouse genetics to identify the molecular mechanisms that control asymmetric cell division and allow cells to create daughter cells of such dramatically different properties.
In Drosophila, asymmetric cell divisions are established via the segregation of cell fate determinants into only one of the two daughter cells and identifying the mechanism of this polarized segregation has been a key focus of the lab. Defects in asymmetric cell division can lead to the formation of transplantable tumors in flies and understanding the mechanism of stem cell derived tumor formation is a more recent goal. For this, we use in vivo transgenic RNAi to analyze stem cell self renewal on a genome-wide level and apply in-utero electroporation to study homologs of the identified genes in vertebrate neural stem cells.