Our lab studies the regulatory signals of mammary stem cell self-renewal and the interaction between stem cells and their niche. The mouse mammary gland provides an excellent system to study those. Unlike other mammalian organs that develop in the embryonic stage, mammary gland develops mostly post-natally. Mammary gland is the only epithelium organ that is able to completely regenerate after transplantation, which serves as a stringent in vivo assay to examine the adult stem cell properties, self-renewal and the capability to differentiate.
We are particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms through which the self-renewal is maintained. We focus our efforts on Wnt signals that are critical for many stages of mammary development and are established as a self-renewal niche signal. We are also enthusiastic about identifying new niche components and signals within which.
Our long-term goal is to determine how the stem and progenitor cell regulatory mechanisms have deviated in breast cancer, and to learn how to control the players in these machineries for the purposes of regenerative and cancer medicine.