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Dr. Josephine BageritzStem Cell Niche Heterogeneity

Our research focuses on the heterogeneity of stem cell niches. Specifically, we want to understand how differences in muscle stem cells within one tissue arise during development, are maintained in adulthood and altered during aging and age-related diseases.

We are using the fruit fly as a model system to study those processes in a living organism. Fundamental mechanisms of myogenesis are remarkably similar in vertebrates and invertebrates. When Drosophila transforms from a larva into an adult fly, muscles need to be built to move the newly forming wings. These flight muscles closely resemble the skeletal muscles found in vertebrates. Muscle development as well as adult tissue repair and regeneration requires heterotypic cellular interactions between the mesoderm-derived muscle stem cells and a dynamic microenvironment. Wnt signaling via its ligand-receptor interactions is a key regulator of these processes. For instance, in the developing epithelial wing imaginal disc of Drosophila, which acts as a stem cell niche for the adjacent adult muscle stem/progenitor cells (AMPs), the Drosophila Wnt1 homolog Wingless (Wg) plays an important role for AMP specification and proliferation.

Research directions that we are currently pursuing:


I.) Systematic analysis of all Wnt ligands, receptors and co-receptors in the larval epithelial-muscle stem cell niche to unravel a specific ‘Wnt code’ important for muscle stem cell heterogeneity?

II.) Mechanistic understanding of novel Wnt pathway components and their role for muscle stem cell niche heterogeneity

To address these questions, we integrate cutting edge single-cell transcriptomics, imaging and genome editing with detailed cell type-specific molecular analyses.

Open positions

We currently have an open position for a Master thesis “Wnt Pathway Specificity in Niche – Muscle Stem Cell Control”.  If you are interested, please send a CV, letter of motivation, your transcript of records and contact information for one or two references to Josephine Bageritz