“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.” – Albert Szent-Györgyi

Investigating Adult Stem Cells Dynamics in the Infection Scenario.

Adult stem cells (ASCs) are fundamental players in tissue maintenance as they serve to restore damaged tissue during injury or infection. However, during severe bacterial/ viral infections, tissue regeneration in mammals is hugely inhibited. Recent evidence suggests that the mammalian ASCs have a limited tolerance to the infection stress. Sometimes they over-proliferate and develop cancer or they exhaust by terminal differentiation. Indeed the failure in the maintenance of healthy tissue is the cause of several deadly diseases. Hence, improving ASCs tolerance to such burden is of profound biomedical importance.

Planarian ASCs possess extraordinary abilities to deal with such stress. The ASCs in planarians allow them to grow an entire body from a tiny tissue fragment. The genetic machinery essential for the stemness in mammalian stem cells is conserved considerably within planarian ASCs. Planarian ASCs can be easily studied in vivo or isolated by FACS in ample amount for next-generation sequencing applications such as RNA-Seq, ChIP-Seq etc. Hence, planarian is a convenient model system to study ASCs dynamics in vivo. We want to exploit this system to investigate the molecular mechanisms governing stem cell dynamics during chronic infections.

Our research program is mainly addressing the following questions:

- Whether bacterial/ viral pathogens adversely affect adult stem cells function..??

- What are the molecular mechanisms governing the ASCs dynamics during chronic infections..??

- Is there a way to enhance the tolerance of mammalian ASCs to infection stress..??

We are using in vivo (Planarians, Mice) and in vitro (Cell lines) model systems as well as various bacterial/ viral pathogens in our study. We employ a wide range of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics techniques such as RNAi, RNA-Seq, ChIP-Seq, Confocal microscopy etc. to address the questions mentioned above.

This research will expand our understanding of how ASCs respond to infection and infection-induced tissue damage. In the long term, this may help us to design strategies to increase the competence of existing as well as transplanted ASCs during regenerative therapies.