The goal of the Rangan Laboratory is to understand how a stem cell fate is initiated, maintained and terminated. Stem cells have the capacity to both self-renew and differentiate. Improper differentiation or self-renewal of stem cells can result in a loss of homeostasis, which has been implicated in human afflictions such as cancer and degenerative diseases.
We investigate germ line stem cells (GSCs) in the developmental context of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. In the developing embryo and ovary, we are able to study each aspect of the stem cell life cycle - initiation, maintenance, and differentiation. We are specifically interested in understanding the role of small RNAs, non-coding RNAs, and translational regulators within this system. Many mechanisms governing these processes have been shown to be widely conserved, thus making findings in our system broadly applicable. By utilizing Drosophila genetics paired with genomic approaches, my lab is interested in addressing the following questions:
- What is the role of heterochromatin formation in small RNA production?
- What are the targets of translational regulators that are required for GSC maintenance?
- What is the role of non-coding RNA in maintaining a stem cell fate?