Cell signalling & mitosis

Dividing NPCs in brain
Neural progenitor cells dividing during brain development

A fundamental open question in cell biology, development, and physiology is how cells are guided through mitosis to place specific daughter cells at defined positions. During the complex voyage of building tissues, cells integrate intrinsic factors, as well as extrinsic cues from their niches to modulate the progression, symmetry, orientation, and fate of their divisions. Misregulation of these processes is associated with loss of the cellular hierarchies and can ultimately lead to disease, notably cancer. We aim to unravel how different signalling pathways shape the cell fate during development and tissue renewal by modulating cell division.

Stem cell & cancer biology

The fate of adult stem cells is determined by the integration of extracellular signals released from their niches. For example, Wnt ligands are essential for stem cell maintenance and tissue homeostasis across many organs. We study the transduction of Wnt signals, notably in mammalian adult stem cells of the adrenal gland and the gut. We aim to identify and characterise signalling components, interactions and modifications that play key roles in stem cell renewal, and whose misregulation can lead to cancer.

Intestinal organoids.png
Intestinal stem cells cultured ex vivo form organoids shaped as the intestinal crypts. The organoids retain the cellular hierarchy of the original tissue.

Signal transduction & crosstalk

NePCs in neurospheres
Neural progenitors self renew ex vivo in neurosphere cultures thanks to the integration of extracellular cues

The extracellular signalling pathways are notorious for their cross talk, but it is still not well understood how stem and progenitor cells integrate different extracellular signals from a multi-signalling niche to modulate their fate and behaviour. We aim to characterise the fundamental molecular hubs where these signals converge and uncover biological functions regulated by these mechanisms.


Prof. Holger Bastians – University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG)

Dr. Xabier Contreras – University of the Basque Country

Prof. Gislene Pereira – Heidelberg University

Dr. Bon-Kyoung Koo –  Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA, Vienna)

Dr. Yuu Kimata – University of Cambridge

Dr. Carmen Ruiz de Almodovar – Heidelberg University

Prof. Thomas W. Holstein – Heidelberg University

Dr. Petra Beli – Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB, Mainz)