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DanStem Newsletter December 2016

Two New Group Leaders will join DanStem

Two junior group leaders will join DanStem, complementing and extending our research portfolio in the fields of Stem Cell and Developmental Biology. Agnete Kirkeby’s research focuses on modelling human brain development with human pluripotent stem cells. Jakub Sedzinski will contribute with a better understanding of how cells insert into epithelia, a process used by stem cells to renew in the lung and other epithelial organs. The two Principal Investigators will join DanStem in early 2017 and start their research groups. 

Agnete Kirkeby, currently a group leader in the Department for Human Neural Development, Lund University, is planning to use bioengineering, stem cell technology, developmental biology and bioinformatics to provide comprehensive new insights into the molecular basis of human brain development. Furthermore, some of the expected discoveries may contribute to new stem cell-based cell therapy in Parkinson’s disease.

Jakub Sedzinski, currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Wallingford lab at The University of Texas, Austin, will use imaging together with quantitative image processing and theoretical modeling to investigate the mechanisms governing epithelial cell renewal.  To this end, Jakub will focus on apical  emergence,  a novel cellular behavior  that describes a broad  spectrum  of cellular  processes resulting  in the  integration  of a progenitor/stem cell within  an existing  epithelium..

With these recruitments DanStem will consist of 11 Group Leaders addressing basic questions in stem cell and developmental biology. 

Animated Movie: The Birth of Beta Cells

Understanding how beta cells first form in the developing embryo is providing scientists with the know-how to make these cells in the lab. The hope is that lab-grown beta cells could, in the future, be used as a therapy for Diabetes. The below animation creates a visual story of how we think the pancreas, which is the home of beta cells, forms. From small unstructured buds the pancreas develops into the intricate network of branches we see in an adult. Creative scientific experiments are, piece by piece, revealing the complex mechanisms that underpin this dynamic development.

The movie is a collaborative project of HumEn and Revive.

New blood cancer treatment targeting cancer proteins

Nuevolution, a biotech company that has developed a unique proprietary platform to identify new drug candidates, is now joining forces with BRIC (Biotech Research and Innovation Centre of University of Copenhagen), led by DanStem group leader Kristian Helin, to start a new Danish research project. Together, they seek to create tailored therapies for patients affected by bone marrow cancer, acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia by targeting the enzymes NSD1, NSD2 and NSD3 which are often involved in the development of these types of cancer. Fine more information HERE

'The Stem Cell Niche finds its true north'

This meeting review by Agnete Kirkeby, Thomas Perlmann and Carlos-Filipe Pereira, published on The Company of Biologists Ltd | Development (2016) summarizes the Stem Cell Niche conference, an international meeting held in May 22-26, 2016 in Hillerød. The article highlights new developments in the field and emerging technologies, including single-cell analysis, in vitro organogenesis and direct reprogramming. The next Stem Cell Niche, jointly coordinated by the Novo Nordisk Faundation and DanStem, will be held in Spring 2018. Click HERE to read the full review.  

Embryonic Stem Cell Culture Conditions Support Distinct States Associated with Different Developmental Stages and Potency

A collaboration between the KU transgenic unit and the Brickman lab at DanStem has identified in vitro culture conditions to reprogram embryonic stem cells (ESC) to an earlier stages of development. Mouse ESCs are equivalent to cells that exist in the mouse embryo at 4.5 days of development and the scientists made them walk the clock backwards to more immature cells that exist in the preimplantation embryo. These few days back mean a lot since these early cells can now form the embryo, like ESCs, but also its extraembryonic tissues, when implanted in the blastocyst.  Find out more HERE (Link to the publication)

Polycomb enables primitive endoderm lineage priming in embryonic stem cells

How do embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in culture maintain the capacity to give rise to all embryonic cell types without committing to any destiny?  In this paper, the Brickman group monitored all the gene activities in the cell and showed that the chromatin regulator polycomb complex bookmarks the genes of alternative fates such as the primitive endoderm. HoweverESCs constantly read these alternative fates at low levels. They show that the chromatin regulator Polycomb reduces their probability of initiating reading rather than proceeding.  This basic research will help us better control the production of specific cell types. Read more HERE (LINK to the the paper) 

Organ asymmetry: how the liver finds its place

Research by the Ober group, published in Developmental Cell, investigates the development of the liver and how it is positioned asymmetrically along the left-right body axis. During embryonic development, each internal organ is built by a group of specific progenitor cells. They first form at the midline of the embryo and move left or right to efficiently place each organ in the body cavity. The team discovered the cell-cell interactions and molecular cues responsible for the positing of the liver. They demonstrated that this happens because the cells on the right of the liver progenitors give them a repulsive signal to move to the left. You can read more HERE.

Recent publications 

Cayuso J, Dzementsei A, Fischer JC, Karemore G, Caviglia S, Bartholdson J, Wright GJ & EA Ober (2016). EphrinB1/EphB3b Coordinate Bidirectional Epithelial-Mesenchymal Interactions Controlling Liver Morphogenesis and Laterality. Developmental Cell, 39(3), 316-328, doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2016.10.009.

Stunnenberg HG, The International Human Epigenome Consortium, Hirst M (2016). The International Human Epigenome Consortium: A Blueprint for Scientific Collaboration and Discovery. Cell, 167(5), 1145-1149, doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.007. 

Laugesen A, Højfeldt JW & K Helin (2016). Role of the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) in Transcriptional Regulation and CancerCold Spring Harb Perspect Med, doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a026575.

Brickman JM & Serup P (2016). Properties of embryoid bodies. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol, doi:10.1002/wdev.259.

Berclaz C, Szlag D, Nguyen D, Extermann J, Bouwens A, Marchand PJ, Nilsson J, Schmidt-Christensen A, Holmberg D, Grapin-Botton A & T Lasser (2016). Label-free fast 3D coherent imaging reveals pancreatic islet micro-vascularization and dynamic blood flow. Biomed Opt Express, 7(11), 4569-4580, doi:10.1364/boe.7.004569

Cooper S, Grijzenhout A, Underwood E, Ancelin K, Zhang T, Nesterova TB, Anil-Kirmizitas B, Bassett A, Kooistra SM, Agger K, Helin K, Heard E & N Brockdorff (2016). Jarid2 binds mono-ubiquitylated H2A lysine 119 to mediate crosstalk between Polycomb complexes PRC1 and PRC2. Nature Communications, 1-8, doi:10.1038/ncomms13661.

Morsing  M, Klitgaard MC, Jafari A, Villadsen R, Kassem M, Petersen OW & L Rønnov-Jessen (2016). Evidence of two distinct functionally specialized fibroblast lineages in breast stroma. Breast Cancer Research, 18:108, 1-11, doi:10.1186/s13058-016-0769-2

Illingworth RS, Holzenspies JJ, Roske FV, Bickmore WA & JM Brickman (2016). Polycomb enables primitive endoderm lineage priming in embryonic stem cells. eLife, 1-28, 5doi:10.7554/eLife.14926.

Arregi I, Climent M, Iliev D, Strasser J, Gouignard N, Johansson JK, Singh T, Mazur M, Semb H, Artner I, Minichiello L & EM Pera (2016). Retinol dehydrogenase-10 regulates pancreas organogenesis and endocrine cell differentiation via paracrine retinoic acid signalling. Endocrinology, 1-17, doi:10.1210/en.2016-1745.

Comet I, Riising EM, Leblanc B & K Helin (2016). Maintaining cell identity: PRC2-mediated regulation of transcription and cancer. Nat Reviews Cancer, 1-8, doi:10.1038/nrc.2016.83.

Højfeldt JW & K Helin (2016). Regional tumour glutamine supply affects chromatin and cell identity. Nature Cell Biology, 18(10), 1027-1029, doi:10.1038/ncb3414.

Grapin-Botton A (2016). Three-dimensional pancreas organogenesis models. Diabetes Obes Metab, 18 (Suppl. 1), 33-40, doi:10.1111/dom.12720.

Gonzalez JM, Morgani SM, Bone RA, Bonderup K, Abelchian S, Brakebusch C & JM Brickman (2016). Embryonic Stem Cell Culture Conditions Support Distinct States Associated with Different Developmental Stages and Potency. Stem Cell Reports, 7(2), 177-191, doi:10.1016/j.stemcr.2016.07.009.

Radzisheuskaya A, Shlyueva D, Müller I & K Helin (2016). Optimizing sgRNA position markedly improves the efficiency of CRISPR/dCas9-mediated transcriptional repression. Nucleic Acids Research, 1-13,  doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw583.

PhD graduations

Congratulations to two of our PhD students who have successfully passed their PhD public defence:
Caitlin Collin from the Serup group, defended her PhD dissertation on December 7, 2016. Thesis title: Integration of multiple sources of partly redundant Notch ligands promotes proper pancreatic cell fate decisions.

Hjalte List Larsen from the Grapin-Botton group defended his thesis defence on December 14, 2016. Thesis title: Single-cell analysis of lineage allocation during pancreas organogenesis

Best talk prize to Svend Dahl-Jensen

PhD student Svend Dahl-Jensen was awarded the Best talk prize at the 18th EMBL PhD Symposium in Heidelberg, November 17, 2016

At the last EMBL PhD Symposium ‘Life by Numbers, Towards Quantitative Biology’ that took place in Heidelberg, Svend (Grapin-Botton group) was recognized for his talk, entitled "Deconstructing the formation of the ductal network in the pancreas". 
The EMBL Symposium addressed the demands for quantitative focus in the field, where system-wide approaches and theoretical modeling play a central role. 

The Copenhagen Bioscience PhD programme kicks-off

The first group of Copenhagen Bioscience PhD Programme students started their training at the four NNF centers, beginning of September 2016. It started with busy weeks of lectures and introductory events, continued with a rotation period and ended where each student chosing a lab for the four years of graduate education and training. More information about the programme and students is available HERE

Novo Nordisk Fonden PhD-program ceremoni.

CPH Bioscience students 2016

Applications for 2017 Copenhagen Bioscience PhD Programme

Applications for the next round of PhD studentships could be submitted until December 15, 2016. Interviews will be held in Copenhagen in March 2017, for students to start in September 2017.

Joshua Brickman on the use of human stem cells in animal embryos

In this commentary to the Danish scientific online journal Videnskab, Joshua Brickman is referring to lifting the ban on the use of human stem cells in animal embryos in the U.S. According to Professor Brickman, this should not be considered problematic research since it does not involve genetic changes. "Like in any other research area, knowledge can be misused and therefore projects should be examined case by case, rather than to be banned completely. The ethical regulations in the U.K. could be a good example for that" adds Joshua Brickman. LINK to the interview. 

Interview: the potential and great challenges of stem cells

In an interview to the Danish Medical Doctors’ Weekly Magazine, ‘Ugeskrift for Læger’, (http://ugeskriftet.dk/), DanStem Executive Director, Professor Henrik Semb has commented on the potential of stem cell research and the great challenges for future treatment. According to Henrik, now, after 20 years of basic research, scientists are getting ready to move into clinical trials and develop therapies for type one diabetes patients. “It will take at least two years, until we can test it in humans, and we predict that new questions will arise afterwards where we shall go back to the lab until all problems will be solved.” “Stem cells have great potential, but they will not solve all medical problems,” summarizes Professor Henrik Semb. The article was published on the ‘Ugeskrift for Læger’ magazine, Nr. 18/2016, September 6, 2016

Joshua Brickman on the Stem Cell Podcast

The stem cell podcast features stem cell scientists talking about their recent research in an informative and informal way. In this podcast Joshua Brickman is talking about his work on stem cells and culture conditions. Professor Brickman and his group investigate the basis for transcriptional priming and commitment in ES cells and early in the specification of the endoderm lineage. The group aims to understand the relevance of these priming events to stem and progenitor cell potency. LINK to the podcast

Type 1 Diabetes patients visited for a 'coffee meeting with scientists'

On October 18, 2016 a group of young type one diabetic patients (T1D) came over to DanStem accompanied by Dr. Tore Vigård a clinical scientist from Lund University, specialized in Preventive Pediatrics. DanStem is involved with ample outreach activities, yet, this meeting was unique since it gave the scientists and the patients the opportunity to interact, focusing on stem cell research done at the center and the potential of stem cell research in future treatment of diabetes. 

Danstem scientists visited schools as part of 'Videnskaben på besøg'

Senior scientist Mette Christine Jørgensen (Serup group) and PhD student Svend Dahl Jensen (Grapin-Botton group) have participated at ''Videnskaben på besøg'' ('Science is visiting') initiative, where scientists visit schools for a short lecture about their field of research. On September 26-30, 2016, Mette and Svend have visited three schools and interacted with over 150 students. The scientists gave an introduction to stem cell research, talking about the potential of stem cells and about using stem cells in future diabetes treatments, also discussing the availability of (unproven) stem cell treatments at private clinics.

B.Sc. students from DIS visited DanStem

On the afternoon of Wednesday 19 October, 17 B.Sc. students from DIS (Danish Institute for Study Abroad) Copenhagen - www.disabroad.org/copenhagen/ - visited DanStem as part of their course on ”Epigenetics and the Environment”.

The students are currently enrolled at various US universities and are studying at DIS Copenhagen for an exchange semester. 

The students were presented with a 5-minute introduction to DanStem then a talk by Assistant Professor Phil Allan Seymour about “Pancreas Development: Transcription Factors, Signaling Pathways & Epigenetics” The 17 students then split into two groups and spent half an hour dissecting (with an emphasis on the digestive system and pancreas) an adult mouse in pairs (run by Phil) or were given a tour of the Center by PhD students Jonas and Anuska a Q&A session over coffee. 

DanStem's Wikimarathon

On November 30, 2016 the Wikipedia expert Ole Anderson visited DanStem together with Cathy Southworth, a communication expert from the University of Edinburgh, for a Wiki-Marathon. This is a full day session, where senior and junior scientists learnt how to create a profile, edit and interact with the thriving Wikipedia community. The session continued with editing and creating Hit List Wikipedia pages related to the work of DanStem. The scientific leader was professor Anne Grapin-Botton.

The DanStem Seminar Series 2017

Each year we are hosting key note speakers in our seminar series. The seminars are taking place on Wednesdays, 12:00 and they are open to all, no registration is required. See our seminars planned for 2017 via the following LINK

To reply to this email, please write to naomi.dayan@sund.ku.dk


Sendt d. 15 December 2016