2021 Winner: Determining cell cycle regulation in pluripotent stem cells with functional CRISPR screening

Project Information
Determining cell cycle regulation in pluripotent stem cells with functional CRISPR screening
Physical and Biological Sciences
Undergraduate research
Many lines of evidence implicate pluripotency transcription factors, such as
Oct4 and Nanog, as important components of cell cycle regulation and cell
differentiation (Loh et al., Nat. Genet., 2006). Though they are merely a subset of a
much larger array, Oct4 and Nanog are essential for the self-renewal and maintenance
of pluripotency in embryonic stem cells (Loh et al., Nat. Genet., 2006). Yet, less is
known about the mechanisms concerning how these pluripotency transcription factors
can impact cell cycle progression and quiescence. In this study, CRISPR activation
and CRISPR interference will be implemented to functionally assess gene regulatory
elements by either activating or repressing them. These perturbations will be used to
test the functions of specific cell cycle genes involved in Gap 1 phase transition. Focus
is gravitated towards genes associated with the Gap 1 phase of the cell cycle because
it is known that an accelerated Gap 1 phase greatly diminishes the influence of external
differentiation signals to prevent cell differentiation (Kapinas et al., J. Cell. Physiol.,
2013). Ultimately, our results will be combined with previously established CRISPR
screen data using wild-type Cas9 in an effort to better understand the principles
dictating the differentiation and division processes of embryonic stem cells.
Students
  • Edward Chen Wu (Stevenson)
Mentors