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Biosciences Research Seminar - Face up to mechanotransduction and stem cells dynamics

Part of the Biosciences lunchtime research seminar series

A Biosciences seminar
Date19 March 2020
Time12:30 to 13:30
PlaceLSI Seminar Room B

Swipe access required for LSI

Speaker: Dr Mariaceleste Aragona, Laboratory of Stem Cells and Cancer, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Host: Professor Austin Smith. Seminar followed by shared buffet lunch.

Mariaceleste Aragona received her PhD in Biomedicine from the University of Padova (Italy) under the supervision of Prof. Stefano Piccolo investigating the role of the transcription factors YAP/TAZ and Hippo signalling in translating mechanical cues into gene transcriptions. Since 2014 she joined the group of Prof. Cédric Blanpain at Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium. Her research aims to understand how stem cells dynamics is maintained during tissue homeostasis and how it changes during regeneration and growth. She is particularly interest in understand which are the molecular mechanisms that dictate stem cells fates in the skin epidermis as well as in other epithelia.

Mariaceleste has been awarded a long-term post-doctoral fellowship of the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) and she is now a FNRS (Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique) researcher.


As the first barrier against the environment, the skin is highly exposed to mechanical stress and the ability of the skin to grow in response to stretching has, for decades, been exploited in reconstructive surgery. However, it remains unclear how mechanical forces affect epidermal cell behaviour. We develop a mouse model in which the consequences of stretching on skin epidermis can be studied. Using a multidisciplinary approach that combines clonal analysis with quantitative modelling and single-cell RNA-seq, we show that stretching induces skin expansion by a transient bias in the renewal activity of epidermal stem cells, while a second subpopulation of basal progenitors remains committed to differentiation. Transcriptional and chromatin profiling identifies how cell states and gene regulatory networks are modulated by stretching. Using pharmacological inhibitors and mouse mutants, we define the mechanisms that control stretch-mediated tissue expansion.

Seminar_Series_poster_190320.pdf (441K)

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