Dr. Hanna Mikkola's group is interested in the development of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). Their goal is to identify members of the transcriptional regulatory network that controls HSC development and function. As many of these regulators are involved both in normal blood cell development and in hematopoietic malignancies, understanding how these molecules work will also unravel the regulatory mechanisms that are disturbed in leukemias. Another line of their research focuses on studying the fetal hematopoietic microenvironments that nurture developing HSCs. As the main limitation hindering improvement of HSC therapies is the inability to maintain the self-renewal capacity and pluripotency of HSCs in culture, understanding how these programs develop in the embryo will be instrumental for learning how to expand cord blood or bone marrow HSCs, or even to generate HSCs from human embryonic stem cells, ultimately developing better cure for leukemia and other blood cell disorders.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications:
Schenke-Layland K, Angelis E, Rhodes KE, Heydarkhan-Hagvall S, Mikkola HK, Maclellan WR. Collagen IV induces trophoectoderm differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells. Stem Cells. 2007; 25(6): 1529-38.
Teitell MA, Mikkola HK. Transcriptional activators, repressors, and epigenetic modifiers controlling hematopoietic stem cell development. Pediatr Res. 2006; 59(4 Pt 2): 33R-9R.
Mikkola HK, Orkin SH. The journey of developing hematopoietic stem cells. Development. 2006; 133(19): 3733-44.
Mikkola HK, Gekas C, Orkin SH, Dieterlen-Lievre F. Placenta as a site for hematopoietic stem cell development. Exp Hematol. 2005; 33(9): 1048-54.
Mikkola HK, Orkin SH. Gene targeting and transgenic strategies for the analysis of hematopoietic development in the mouse. Methods Mol Med. 2005; 105: 3-22.