Stem cells act in developing and adult organisms to produce the proper number of specialized cells in the body. When stem cells divide, they select a particular division mode that is symmetric or asymmetric. This division mode determines how many specialized and stem cell daughter cells are generated per stem cell division. As stem cells directly affect the future of the organism, it is essential that they choose a division mode that is appropriate for development, maintenance and repair of tissues. Defective division mode selection is implicated in developmental disorders, diseases such as cancer, and ageing.
When making decisions on division mode and cell fates, stem cell integrate cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic signals and factors. Although several of these signals and factors have been identified, it is not clear how and when a stem cell selects its division mode and daughter cell fates. In our lab, we aim to understand how single stem cells make decisions on division mode and cell fates, and how these decisions affect developing and adult tissues. We employ single cell analyses, lineage tracing techniques and computational modeling to look at single stem cell behaviour in the developing and adult brain. We use the zebrafish and mouse as our main model systems. In particular, we are interested in the role of fate-determining factors such as signalling pathways and subcellular structures in symmetric and asymmetric stem cell divisions.