A6: Systematic analysis of signaling pathways in human mesenchymal stem cells
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a population of adult stem cells that can differentiate into different mesodermal lineages, including osteocytes and adipocytes. Their differentiation decisions are governed by signaling pathways that are controlled by extracellular cues and induce transcriptional programs. Here, we propose to dissect pathways that direct differentiation decisions in MSCs using RNA interference screens. Based on methods to efficiently transfect MSCs we will use automated imaging and image analysis to phenotype and identify regulatory factors. A particular focus will be on the role of Wnt signaling pathways in maintenance and differentiation of MSCs.