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Paulina Latos

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Research Focus
In mammals, the placenta mediates the physiological exchange of nutrients, oxygen, hormones, metabolic by-products, and other molecules between the maternal and fetal bloodstreams. The placenta is built of several specialized cell types that are thought to originate from common stem cell precursors called trophoblast stem (TS) cells. Mouse TS cells can be cultured in vitro and, under the right conditions, self-renew indefinitely while retaining the ability to differentiate into specialized trophoblast cell types. We use mouse TS cells to model and investigate molecular mechanisms driving cell fate specification during trophoblast development.

Main Objectives
The main aims of our research are:

  1. Development of directed, chemically defined methods to generate specialized placental cell types
  2. Investigation of the interface between signaling and transcriptional regulation of TS cell self-renewal and differentiation
  3. Derivation of placental organoids to model tissue interactions in development and disease

Content of Research
We use genetic manipulations (gene knock-down/knock-in, overexpression, CRISPR/Cas9 system) to investigate the molecular events driving mouse TS cell self-renewal and differentiation. This genetic cell engineering approach is complemented by proteomic, transcriptomic and epigenetic analyses.