Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session
Stem cells have the unique ability to give rise to all human tissues and hold great potential for tissue regeneration and treating human disease. Realizing this potential will require an understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that allow stem cells to generate descendants that have a variety of fates and that lock in the specialized states and distinctive RNA and protein expression patterns of differentiated cells. Transcriptional regulation is believed to account for a large part of the specialized gene expression programs of cells. In this course, we will address how transcriptional regulators both prohibit and drive differentiation during the course of development. How does a stem cell know when to remain a stem cell and when to become a specific cell type? Are there global differences in the way the genome is read in multipotent and terminally differentiated cells? We will explore how stem cell pluripotency is preserved, how master regulators of cell-fate decisions execute developmental programs, and how chromatin regulators control undifferentiated versus differentiated states. Additionally, we will discuss how aberrant regulation of transcriptional regulators produces disorders such as developmental defects and cancer.
This course will consist of 12 classes focusing on critical reading of original scientific literature. Two papers will be read in detail before each class and the results discussed in class. Grading is Pass/Fail and will depend on attendance, participation and completion of class assignments.