Programme(s) to which this project applies:
|☑ MPhil/PhD||☒ MRes[Med]||☒ URIS|
Embryonic stem cells (ES cells) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) are pluripotent and thus hold great promise in regenerative medicine, studying disease mechanisms and drug discovery.
Mouse ES cells are derived from the blastocyst of preimplantation development and contribute to the somatic cell lineages and the germline upon reintroduction to the blastocyst but are excluded from the extraembryonic tissues in the placenta and yolk sac that are derived from the trophectoderm (TE) and the primitive endoderm (PrE). For most mammals, however, establishing ES cell cultures has been challenging. For example, despite many years of intensive efforts by the scientific community, porcine ES cells are still not established. Based on genetic studies of signaling pathways required in preimplantation embryos, we developed a technology to establish stem cells from mouse 4-8 cell stage preimplantation embryos where some embryo cells still retain the development potential to all extraembryonic and embryonic cell lineages (or totipotency features). These new type stem cells are named expanded potential stem cells or EPSCs (Yang et al Nature 2017; Yang et al Nature Protocols 2019). A single EPSC contributes to both the embryo proper and the TE lineages in chimera assay. Trophoblast stem cell (TSC) lines, extraembryonic endoderm stem (XEN) cells, and ESCs could be directly derived from EPSCs in vitro. Molecular analyses of the epigenome and single-cell transcriptome in EPSCs revealed enrichment for blastomere-specific signature and a dynamic DNA methylome.
The EPSC strategy enables establishment of stem cells from multiple mammalian species including pig and human (Gao et al. Nature Cell Biology 2019). Importantly, establishment of porcine EPSCs is the first time that bona fide stem cells are derived from porcine preimplantation embryos. The EPSCs of mammals share similar molecular features and developmental potential (all cell types of extraembryonic as well embryonic lineages). Human and porcine EPSCs are robust in culture and permit efficient genome-editing. The successful generation of EPSCs produces new tools for stem cell fundamental studies, and opens a wealth of avenues for translational research in biotechnology, agriculture, and regenerative medicine.
Professor PT Liu, School of Biomedical Sciences
Professor Pengtao Liu obtained his PhD in Genetics and Development from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, USA. He did postdoc training at National Cancer Institute, NIH (USA). Prof Liu was a faculty member from 2013-2017 at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, and an affiliated faculty member of Wellcome-MRC Stem Cell Institute of University of Cambridge. Prof Liu recently moved his lab to the University of Hong Kong. Prof Liu’s research interests span both fundamental and translational studies in genetics, single cell genomics, development, stem cell, immunity, cancer and interdisciplinary areas. Prof Liu has research collaborations in UK, Europe, US and China. Various research projects are available in the lab for postgraduate students.
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HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.
HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.